Ole Miss alum returns to Oxford in ‘The Sound of Music’ national tour

Published 10:35 am Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Tonight will mark a career milestone for Christina Tompkins.

The Ole Miss alum is part of the national tour of “The Sound of Music,” which plays a sold-out performance tonight at the Ford Center for the Performing Arts.

Tompkins, who graduated from Ole Miss in 2009 with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Musical Theatre, has served as the female swing on the tour since it began in September 2017 and has traveled all over the United States and into Canada in her time with the production.

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However, the performance in Oxford has been marked on her calendar from the beginning, Tompkins said.

“I’ve missed Ole Miss and when I saw the schedule for this tour, I literally screamed because I was so excited. It’s a full circle kind of moment,” Tompkins said, “[Coming back to perform at your alma mater] is not something that everyone gets to do, and to have some of my old professors in the audience and to be able to share this whole experience with them, I’m just so grateful. It’s such a blessing.”

As the tour’s only adult female swing, Tompkins has a challenging role.  She is required to learn every female ensemble or featured role, known more commonly as tracks, except the Mother Abbess and Maria. When another actor has to miss the show, even in the two roles Tompkins doesn’t cover, she will be called to perform and replace the missing ensemble member.

“It was definitely a little daunting at first because I had never been a swing before,” Tompkins said, “You have to learn quickly.”

To complicate matters, swings don’t always get the chance to rehearse a track before they are required to perform, which is what happened during the tour’s opening weekend in Seattle.

“I made my swing debut that weekend when someone got sick,” Tompkins said. “As a swing, you really learn by watching and taking a copious amount of notes, so when you get a call to go on…hopefully you did your homework.”

Swing roles can also request to perform at certain stops on the tour, in addition to stepping in for illness or absences.

Tompkins only request to perform on the tour was the Oxford stop.

“I just had to go on here,” Tompkins said.

For tonight’s performance, Tompkins will play Sister Sophia, one of the nuns with a featured role in “How Do You Solve A Problem Like Maria?”. Going on as Sister Sophia also places Tompkins on a featured role track where she will play other characters throughout the show.

“It’ll be nice to back on the stage and to sing at the Ford Center again,” Tompkins said.

For the past three years, Tompkins says that she has been able to make a living as an actor and that the training she received in theatre and music while at Ole Miss are a direct result of her success.

“There definitely have been some years where I get one or two shows throughout the year, but I’m really happy to say that I now make my living professionally acting. My experiences in the theatre department and the music department [at Ole Miss] have set me up for success. There are a lot of people you encounter in New York that don’t have a solid foundation in classical theatre and music training and that’s where my backbone is. Its helped me immensely on this tour and I think it’s a thing that set me apart from the other girls that were up for the swing part,” Tompkins said.

The cast will have a free morning in Oxford on Thursday, which Tompkins says will allow her to show off some of the city and campus’ best sites.

“We have city sheets that are given to us by our company manager on every stop on tour, but I definitely made the city sheets for this stop so that I could tell everyone where to go and what restaurants to eat in. We’ve gone to a lot of other college towns, too and the ‘Von Trapplings’ as we call them, which are the children in our show, have all this college gear. So I’m making them buy as much Ole Miss gear as possible before we leave,” Tompkins said.

The cast will leave Oxford on Thursday afternoon, headed to their next performance in Cleveland, Miss.