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Thursday, March 12, 1998 Published at 09:24 GMT


The sound of discord

Sixty years after they escaped from the Nazis, inspiring the much-loved musical the Sound of Music, all is not harmonious in the Von Trapp family.

[ image: The Von Trapp family ski resort]
The Von Trapp family ski resort
They are involved in a legal battle over the value of shares in their $3m ski resort and timeshare business in Vermont.

"We get into fights about the money," admitted Rosemarie Von Trapp, one of the original children. "But we do have love for each other, it shows everybody we are human. We are not a bubbly Sound of Music family, we are real people."

The messy power struggle for control of the estate will be settled by Vermont's Supreme Court in the state capital of Montpelier.

[ image: Some of the Von Trapp family]
Some of the Von Trapp family
But one of their key employees does not believe the family will be harmed by the dispute. "It's a very tough family," said Hans Van Hees, their resort manager. "They survived much hardship when they fled from Austria, starting their life in America on $4; total destruction of the lodge in 1980 and economic hardship. This will be survived as well."

The dispute has come just as the much-loved musical is being revived on Broadway.

[ image: Maria Von Trapp]
Maria Von Trapp
Even though senior members of the Von Trapp family will be guests of honour at the premiere on Thursday night, they will not gain financially as the matriarch of the family, Maria Von Trapp, mistakenly signed away their rights 40 years ago.

Although most people associate the Sound of Music with the hit movie, the stage show backers believe audiences will like it as much as they did when it was a successful Broadway musical, running for 1,443 performances.

[ image: The stage show is being revived after 40 years off Broadway]
The stage show is being revived after 40 years off Broadway
People who have seen the previews are captivated. "The music is phenomenal, the story is great and it's something that really moves me emotionally," enthused one man.

"When I was a kid growing up everyone wanted to be a Von Trapp because it seemed like such a cool thing to do," said another woman.

Show director Susan Schulman is confident that the production's first Broadway revival in nearly 40 years will be a success.

"The stage show actually is edgier than the movie," she said.

"The movie cut out quite a bit of the references to the political situation. It also dropped the most political song in the show, 'There's No Way To Stop It,' which is a song about whether you can sit back and let events happen or whether you need to take a stand."

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