The Reality Behind the Von Trapp Family Singers

Janina Casey
2 min readMar 22, 2018

Janina Casey received her Bachelor’s from New York-based St. John’s University and, for the past 15 years, she has been working in the financial sector and is involved in equity sales and research. A former child actress, Janina Casey acted in several theater productions including Sound of Music, which was staged at the Jones Beach Theater in Wantagh, New York.

The Sound of Music, a 1959 musical written by the iconic duo Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II, was their eighth and final collaborative effort, as Hammerstein succumbed to cancer several months after the Broadway premiere. The original Broadway production was a success, garnering five Tony awards and running for nearly 1,500 performances. Since then, it has enjoyed continued popularity with numerous worldwide revivals.

Although based on true events, the musical actually includes a number of fictional elements. There were several differences between the musical’s story and the source material, Maria Kutschera’s 1949 memoir, The Story of the Trapp Family Singer, including the following:

1. Maria wasn’t called in to take care of all seven children. Instead, her services were called upon when one of the children had scarlet fever and became too ill to go to school.

2. Based on the musical’s ending, the von Trapps were able to escape Hitler’s rise to power by climbing the Alps (hence, the song, Climb Every Mountain). However, if they actually did that, they would have run across Hitler’s forces, who were guarding Austria’s borders. Instead, they were able to board a train going to Italy just before Hitler ordered the border to be shut down.

3. The timeline on the musical was also a bit skewed. By the time the von Trapps left Austria, Maria and the Baron had already spent several years married and have been blessed with two children of their own. In addition, Maria was carrying their third child at the time.

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Janina Casey

Janina Casey also acted in live theater performances, including in a production of The Sound of Music staged at the outdoor Jones Beach Theater in Wantagh, NY.