Billy Zane in the Sound of Music

Former Chicagoan Billy Zane reprises the remarkable role of Captain von Trapp in The Sound of Music at the Lyric Opera of Chicago (20 North Wacker Drive) from April 25 to May 18.

Having played Billy Flynn on Broadway in Chicago to great acclaim, Mr. Zane shares his approach in taking on another great musical theater role: “Any success that I had in the role of Billy Flynn in Chicago was merely a reflection of the strength of the well-seasoned ensemble I had the pleasure of working with. When you work with professionals at the top of their game, as is the caliber of the company assembled for The Sound of Music, then they only raise yours. That and simply sharing the unbridled joy with the audience that is the privilege to perform such classic and grand material today. That is the sub textual key for an actor to the suppressed emotion of von Trapp; this artists’ truth may easily transfer on stage to the floodgate of emotion and love the Captain always had for his children, to finally be permitted public demonstration again, thanks to undeniable love for Maria and the irresistible sound of music.”

Mr. Zane says his favorite moment is in The Sound of Music is “when the Captain hears his children harmonize so beautifully and his world changes.”

The transition from film to stage acting can be quite a challenge. Mr. Zane discusses the joys and challenges of the two mediums, saying, “Once in the groove, stage is that curious contradiction of fear and boredom. Tantalizing because it is immediate and fresh every moment, while being perhaps the most repetitious practice in the arts. Film consists of long bouts of tedium punctuated by bursts of adrenalin and emotion conjured at will, on demand in unnatural and illogical sequence. Transition between the mediums is oddly natural as they are both so far from nature.”

On his Lyric Opera debut, where such luminaries as Maria Callas, Plácido Domingo and Luciano Pavarotti have previously performed, Mr. Zane says two words, “No pressure!” He continues, “I have been blessed to play in a few of the finest theaters in the world. From the Royal Haymarket on London’s West End to the Shubert on Broadway. The Lyric takes the cake! The scope, the history, the beauty. I am humbled, which as you now can imagine is no easy task.”

No stranger to the Civic Opera House, Mr. Zane visited the theater as a child growing up in Chicago. What memories does he have from his visits? Mr. Zane shares, “I think the last time I was in the theater I’m afraid to say was on a field trip from grade school. I promise to behave this time. Having enjoyed the opera at La Scala and the sick outdoor amphitheater in Verona, to the Sydney Opera House, I am most thrilled to experience the aesthetics and acoustics of the world renowned Lyric in a way only so few ever get the chance to, from the footlights. A rare privilege indeed.”

When Mr. Zane has some down time, he plans to visit his favorite haunts, which include RL Restaurant, Buddy Guy’s Legends, Meli Cafe, Neo Nightclub, and The Modern Wing at the Art Institute of Chicago.


About Cindy Burns

Currently writing for TCW's 'Woman About Town' column, Cindy Burns covers Chicago's social scene, events, fashion, and interviews women and men who are making a difference in the world. With an M.A. in American History from DePaul University, Ms. Burns is an author, freelance writer, avid reader and researcher. Ms. Burns has spent over 20 years serving on charitable boards and organizations, and currently serves as a member of the Women's Board of the Joffrey Ballet and the Women's Auxiliary Board of the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Chicago. She is also an Honorary Member of the Children's Service Board of Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children's Hospital. When Ms. Burns isn't running around Chicago covering current events, you can find her biking, on the tennis courts, or hiking in a mountainous region of her choice.