I know that many folks consider 1965's The Sound of Music to be a lot of sugar and whipped cream served with showtunes. For a long time, I was one of those folks. As I got older, I really listened to the lyrics and realized that there is some vinegar in that whipped cream. In the open of the story, Maria sings "I go to the hills when my heart is lonely...." Where does she sing this? She's in the hills. Maria is lonely. But being in the hills fills her with such joy that mere words aren't enough to express it. She must sing her joy. That's what musical numbers are -- moments where mere spoken words aren't enough. Song and/or dance take over. Maria's life in the abbey, her intention to become a nun may not be so much a true calling as it is a refuge from hurt and heartbreak she has known in her young life.
"Perhaps I had a wicked childhood,
Perhaps I had a miserable youth,
But somewhere in that wicked, miserable past
There must have been a moment of truth..."
Maria and the widower Captain love each other -- and they love the children. They will risk their lives to protect and love those children. They protect their children from the evil spreading throughout Europe. The destructive bigotry of Nazism is on the rise and Captain von Trapp refuses to be a part of it. He speaks out against it. He's ordered into Nazi military service. He refuses. That took guts.
Julie Andrews truly was the perfect choice to play that film role. Her Maria was not a one-note character. Without the multi-talented Julie Andrews, the film would not have been the box office blockbuster that it was nor would it have won the Oscar for Best Picture of 1965. She may be the only actress to score three Best Actress Oscar nominations for musicals. There was Mary Poppins, The Sound of Music and her 1982 gender-bender musical comedy Victor Victoria. Judy Garland, Barbra Streisand, Liza Minnelli got only one Oscar nomination for acting in a musical.
Read more about the the youth of the Broadway and film great in her memoir, Home.