When his family gathered around the television each holiday season to watch “The Sound of Music,” Randy Charleville could never have imagined that some day he’d be entertaining audiences across the country with the Broadway musical he’d grown to love.
“Ever since I was a little kid I was always captivated by watching movies and musicals,” says the Hamilton native, who attended both Wright State University and the musical theater program at the University of Cincinnati’s College Conservatory of Music.
“The movie with Julie Andrews and Christopher Plummer was a standard we watched every year. The story touches your heart and I got wrapped up in the amazing songs.”
Charleville will be on stage in the national touring production of the classic Rodgers and Hammerstein musical when it comes to the Schuster Center Feb. 13-18.
Based on real-life story of the famous Von Trapp Family singers, the musical is set in 1938 and centers around a young and spirited Maria, who is studying to become a nun in her native Austria. When she’s sent by the Mother Abbess to be a governess for the seven children of retired naval officer, Capt. Georg von Trapp, Maria teaches all of them to sing, a skill that ultimately leads to the family’s escape from the Nazis.
Popular songs from the show include “Do-Re-Mi,” “The Sound of Music” “Sixteen Going On Seventeen,” “Edelweiss,” “So Long, Farewell” and “My Favorite Things.”
One of Charleville’s favorite things is the song “Climb Every Mountain.” He says that song has an important message: “No matter what struggles and difficulties life brings, if we just keep following out hearts and dreams we can achieve whatever we hope to do. Never give up!”
That philosophy has enabled Randy Charleville to achieve his own dreams of a stage career. Area audiences have also seen him in “Wizard of Oz,” “Flashdance” and “Elf.”
“The Schuster Center is an incredible facility with wonderful acoustics and design,” says the actor who will portray Baron Elberfeld, a neighbor of the Von Trapps who is opposed to the takeover of his beloved Austria by Nazi Germany.
The road to acting
Charleville made his stage debut at the age of 5 in “The Three Little Pigs” at Van Buren Elementary School in Hamilton. “I was the pig with the brick house,” he remembers. “We had little squiggly tails we attached to our backside and we made pig faces from brown paper bags. “
That kindergarten experience changed his life. “I’ll never forget having that live audience in front of me and hearing them cheer and laugh and enjoy themselves so much,” he says now. “I got bitten by the theater bug and have been acting ever since.”
Between his year at Wright State and his years at CCM, Charleville spent a year performing at Opryland in Nashville. Although he also performs in television and film, he insists there’s nothing like live theater where there’s immediate audience reaction. “One of the things that’s so beautiful about performing is that it felt like my way of giving back in some small way,” he explains. “You never know what effect you’ll have on people.”
It isn’t unusual, he says, for people to approach him at Starbucks or at a restaurant to tell him how much they’ve enjoyed the show. “They might have a sick child or be going through hardships so if they were able to escape or laugh or cry for a short period of time, it’s fulfilling to think you’ve made a difference. I’m blessed to do what I love to do.”
Charleville labels this fresh version of “The Sound of Music” a “magical experience.”
“It’s very similar to the film,” he says. “Everyone thinks because it’s an older show it’s not relevant today, but that’s not the case. In addition to the beautiful songs and all of the children singing and dancing, the story-line reflects a lot of political struggles that continue to exist in our world. It demonstrates how a society can overcome difficulties.”