ShareThe road to the town house in Hollywood started with a decision made years ago by the von Trapp kids’ father, Stefan—son of Werner, grandson of Capt. von Trapp (otherwise known as Christopher Plummer), step-grandson of Maria (Julie Andrews). He had grown up in Vermont with a bunch of cousins, and ultimately decided the atmosphere and the real and cinematic bloodlines were a bit oppressive. With his wife, Annie, he moved far away—to Kalispell, Montana, where he learned stonemasonry skills, opened a business, and had three girls and a boy. Werner would visit in the summer—to the kids he was always “Opa,” German for “grandpa”—and teach them the Austrian folk songs he had sung as a child. One summer he was too ill to make the trip, and the kids recorded their first homemade CD so he could hear it back in Vermont.
In 2001, the New Age pianist George Winston heard the children sing at a festival in Montana, and was impressed enough to have them open for him while he was touring the state. Gradually, they began to get gigs of their own. At the start, their set list consisted of Austrian folk songs and Sound of Music selections. August, who joined his sisters when he was 7, wearing lederhosen to their dirndls, was first soprano.
Stefan had done masonry work for television-series wildlife guru Jack Hanna , who has a house in Montana, and through him became friendly with Wayne Newton, whom the kids knew from the Chevy Chase movie Vegas Vacation. Newton gave them what Amanda calls “amazing advice.” (Read more.)