By Denny Patterson
The hills are alive and they are coming to South Florida. Rodgers and Hammerstein’s beloved classic The Sound of Music will be performed at the Coral Springs Center for the Arts on Sunday, December 30, 2018 for a one-night-only engagement. Maria and the Von Trapp family will once again thrill audiences in this brand new production that the Los Angeles Times has called, “Sparkling, fresh, and lively.” I had the pleasure of chatting with Nick Carroll, one of the show’s swings. A native of Lock Haven, Pennsylvania, Carroll has been working as a professional actor for the past couple of years for off-Broadway shows and Disney cruise ships. Some of his more notable regional roles include Lord Farquaad in Shrek the Musical, the Baker in Into the Woods, and Lurch in The Addams Family.
So, tell me, what made you want to audition for The Sound of Music?
I have been a professional actor living in New York for about four years now, and I worked at some regional theatres around the country and some cruise ships as well. The Sound of Music is a show I really enjoy and love and it was an exciting opportunity because I have never been in a national tour before.
Wow, your first national tour? That is exciting! Is this your first time ever performing in The Sound of Music?
No, I did The Sound of Music in high school when I was a junior. I played the Captain.
Where did your passion for acting come from?
I did my first show when I was around 8-years-old with Missoula Children’s Theatre, a company that sends out two professional actors in a van with all the set pieces and costumes and they will come to your town and hold auditions for a show on Monday and the show will be performed on Saturday. So, you do a show in a week. They get a lot of local kids involved and that is where I started performing. Then there is this theatre in my hometown that I started working with throughout middle school and high school. Since I am from a very small town, I found every theatre and singing opportunity that I could. I would sing in church, sing in school, sing the National Anthem, perform in choirs, and I took every opportunity I could to sing and perform. I decided this is what I wanted to pursue for a career, so I went to college and studied musical theatre and now I am a working actor.
Fantastic. Now, for The Sound of Music tour, you are a swing?
I am a swing. That means I understudy six of the male ensemble characters and I also understudy the Captain.
What has been the biggest challenge about being a swing?
The swing is a unique job. I have only been a swing once before and I also did a show where I understudied for like five roles, but I wasn’t technically a swing. I would say the biggest challenge is just sort of coming up with your own process to remember everything that’s happening. It’s funny, you open my script up to a scene where there’s like five men in it and each one is highlighted in a different color. It looks like a little gay pride flag. You just have to come up with a process. I could go a month without doing a show or I could go two days without doing a show. It’s a unique skill I am learning to hone because I have not done it a ton. To be able to drop into any role at any time, it can be rough. Someone could get injured or sick, and it is always a possibility that I will have to fill in for them. I just have to be ready at all times.
What can audiences expect from this tour?
This national tour is super exciting. It is a brand new national tour and it’s been on the road for a couple of years now. A brand new production with new sets, costumes, lighting, performers, it was made specifically for the road and to be experienced by new audiences. I think a lot of people know the movie super well, but they may not necessarily know the stage show which is a little bit different. It’s still the same story that we love with the super classic, beautiful songs. To me, live shows are always much more exciting than watching a movie because there is a different kind of connection with the actors. This show is so exciting and there is a lot to look forward to. It’s a show for the whole family. The Sound of Music originally started with our grandparents then they passed it onto their kids. I remember watching The Sound of Music with my parents and it’s just a fun story for the whole family.
So, this is a movie you grew up with.
Yes. This is one I grew up with. Along with many other musicals. I come from a theatre loving family, so that helps.
What do you look for in a good audience?
People who turn off their cell phones and people who are engaged. I think the songs are like super infectious. It’s like you’re going to be dancing in the aisles and stuff, it’s not that kind of show, but I think the songs and story gives off an infectious kind of energy that will make audiences attentive and excited. Like I said, it’s a show for all ages.
The Sound of Music is a show that is performed several times a year across the country. How will this national tour stand out?
Everyone involved with this production pours their hearts into their work. Because I am a swing, I am not in the show a lot of the times, so I like watching and it is fun to sit back and take a look at these gorgeous sets and beautiful costumes and the magnificent performances these actors are giving. Trust me, you will see how it will stand out.
As a swing, when you have to go on for someone, do you try to play the character exactly how they do it, or do you make the character your own?
Ah, that’s an interesting question. I think there is a bit of a mix. I do all of the blocking so I move all around and I say the exact same lines obviously, but you know, it’s still me. That is another part of why it’s fun being a swing. Getting to play all the different characters. Like one minute, you’re protecting your family from the Nazis, then the next, you are a Nazi. But yes, I tend to stick with the original direction, but I can take my own spin on it.
Throughout this entire experience, what is the number one lesson you have learned thus far?
Well, we are still pretty early on, so I am sure there are a lot of lessons to be learned. Especially living on the road. We are on a bus, come to a city to do a show, have a fun sleepover, then we are headed out the next morning. There is a unique living style, but so far in the rehearsal process, people need to have a lot of discipline. It’s not always easy to do a show that’s close to three hours long every night. You just need to be prepared and take care of yourself and do your best work and give the audience what they deserve. Give the audience a show they came to see. Every audience is different and new, and this may be someone’s very first show ever. The shows I saw early on in my life were so influential.
What do you personally hope to take away from this experience?
Like I said, being a swing is a new skill for me, so I would like to keep that special sort of brain power. I also look forward to seeing the country and being a part of this national tour. It’s going to be a great time.