Maria, the Captain, and all seven children are represented here, though they are given new names -- Captain Von Trapp becomes Captain Von Klapp, Maria is Mathilde, etc. Written by Eric Thomas Johnson and Frankie Johnson (the latter also plays little Gerdy, providing the show with some of its best comic moments), The Hills Are Alive! puts the cheery family in a situation that defies optimism. As the clan attempts to survive the elements, they are bedeviled by everything from bears to menacing mountain folk.
The songs are all written to be reminiscent of tunes from the Rodgers & Hammerstein musical, so, for example, there is an opening number called "All Nature's a Symphony" that makes one think of "The Sound of Music." "Wiegenlied," one of the show's funniest songs, has the Captain crooning a German "Edelweiss"-like tune that teaches children to fear their dreams.
The Fringe show embraces a gleefully dark sense of humor while still remaining fairly wholesome. Yet, it does not manage to draw as many laughs out of its source material as one might hope. The songs are often too earnest to be very funny, and while Ashley Ball does a hilarious impression of Julie Andrews, the show's focal point is the children, who spend most of their time whining about their circumstances.
Nonetheless, The Hills Are Alive! is a pleasant lark for fans of The Sound of Music who have always wondered how that hike to Switzerland might have gone.
-- Brooke Pierce