Teri Hansen first fell in love with musicals in general, and Rodgers & Hammerstein in particular, while growing up on Davis on Birmingham’s south side. It was just a short walk to the Dairy Deluxe on Woodward, where she favored the vanilla cone rolled in toasted almonds.
She slept on the top bunk in the room she shared with two sisters.
But Rodgers & Hammerstein’s “South Pacific” was being broadcast on TV, and she could hear it from her parents’ bedroom.
“They put us to bed, and it was a summer night, the windows were open. I remember hearing that music, like it was yesterday. I got down from the bunk bed and army-crawled down the hallway. There was a little crack in the door of my parents’ bedroom. The little black and white, 13-inch TV was on, so I thought, ‘I am going to sit on the floor and watch it.’ I’ve had a relationship with Rodgers & Hammerstein ever since,” says the actress who has a leading role in the 50th anniversary celebration tour of "The Sound of Music," running May 10-22 at the Fox Theater in Detroit.
But it wasn’t until high school, at Birmingham Seaholm, that Hansen even thought about being a singer.
“One day I was in a car with two girlfriends and they said, ‘You know Teri, you can sing.’ I was one of those shy, band-geeky, citizenship-type people, but they said, ‘You should audition for the high school musical,’ and I did. It was ‘The Music Man.’ ”
She won the lead, and later played the lead in “Brigadoon.”
Hansen’s father, former Detroit Lions tackle Dale Hansen, died while she was in junior high school, so she had to figure out a way to pay for college. Seaholm vocal music teacher and choirmaster, Eugene Branstrom, a genial Finnish-American from the Upper Peninsula, stepped in.
“Through the encouragement of Eugene Branstrom, I learned a song and (auditioned), and received a scholarship to Central Michigan University for my undergraduate degree,” Hansen said. (She kept up with Branstrom, who died last year.)
After earning an opera performance degree from Florida State, the actress joined the Houston Opera Studio, then she sang opera in Germany, and appeared on Broadway in “The Boys from Syracuse.” Her appearance in a Bravo film of Kurt Weill’s “Street Scenes” prompted producer Hal Prince to offer her the role of Magnolia in “Showboat,” for a London production.
Hansen last appeared at the Fisher in 2004, with the national tour of “Camelot” — she played Guinevere to Robert Goulet’s King Arthur.
As for “The Sound of Music,” Hansen says the film is great, but the musical has extra punch.
“You’re getting the power of the voice, all the senses are filled with live theater,” Hansen said. “Also, this is a brand new production. We’ve taken the movie and the stage version, put it in a pot and stirred it around.
“The chef is Tony award winner Jack O’Brien. The show is being produced by Rodgers & Hammerstein, and the children of Lindsay Crouse, who wrote the libretto, are part of our creative team.
“It’s a who’s who of the best of the best of Broadway, and I couldn’t be happier.”