Get to Know: Merwin Foard of The Sound of Music

Merwin Foard as ‘Max Detweiler’. Photo Courtesy: Matthew Murphy

Arturo Hilario
El Observador

Recently we had the opportunity to speak to performer Merwin Foard who currently stars in the Broadway production of The Sound of Music which will be in San Jose from November 8-13 at Center for the Performing Arts. Foard breaks down what it’s like starting in theater, being part of the Disney family, and working on a musical about the real life Von Trapp Family, who right before World War II were one of the best-known musical groups.

Hey Merwin, thanks for the opportunity to speak to you! First off, what was the route of you becoming a Broadway performer?

Unlike most people who are in this business, doing dance at a studio or high school musicals I did not have that opportunity growing up in Charlotte North Carolina just because the school I went to didn’t offer that type of program. So I didn’t discover performing until I was in college. When I graduated high school I thought I was gonna go into broadcasting via radio dj and play music and they said ‘well do you sing’, ‘well not really’, ‘well we’re gonna teach you’. Suddenly I discovered I had this singing voice that people responded to. Then I’m getting into musicals instead of studying broadcasting. It’s been my career for 35 years.

What do you like best about your work? Is there a favorite aspect?

I like best the fact that every time we do a live performance the group of people that are in that room watching that performance, that’s the only time that group of people will ever be together and that’s kind of exciting. We’re doing the same show, 8 performances a week, the exciting thing for me is when you think about all of those people that are having a night out with their family and they are enjoying what you are doing on the stage and that means so much to me. That would be what I consider my favorite part of what I get to do.

Could you tell us a bit about your current role as Max Detweiler in The Sound of Music?

Max Detweiler is an impresario, and one of Captain Von Trapp’s best friends, and he’s a little bit of an opportunist, he’s like that guy that has one really nice suit but doesn’t really have the shoes to go with it and he shows up at the cocktail party expecting to rub elbows with people that might move his career forward so it never quite happens. He is the instigator to get the children to sing in the contest more for his own self aggrandizing and gratification but also hopefully it ends up being the ticket out that the Von Trapp family needs to escape Austria. It’s a wonderful character to play, the lines area real funny, and I’ve had a great time working this character out with our director Jack O’Brien in terms of really fleshing out more in this production than most Maxes have in previous productions.

What can audiences expect to see at The Sound of Music?

We find by talking to people that are people are so moved by this production because we are at a very specific politically charged climate right now in our country and the idea of a foreign faction could actually invade and take over your country just because they want to is more real today than it was in the 60’s when the show was on Broadway, that impacts people a great deal. Also, it’s very cinematic there are no traditional blackouts so then they change the sets and the action is seamless, even between one scene to the next are very fluid.

And I just hope that people will come out and enjoy their time with us once we arrive. We cannot wait to get there.  

The Sound of Music is in town from November 8-13. For ticket information and more visit <>.

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