Music: Richard Rodgers
Lyrics: Oscar Hammerstein II
Book: Howard Lindsay and Russel Crouse
Director: Martin Connor
Musical Director: Jeremy Wootton
Some sixty years since its inception The Sound of Music still retains a fantastic allure and preciousness. It starts with Maria, the eccentric and lackadaisical nun, being examined by her peers in the convent. They ask How Do You Solve a Problem Like Maria? and conclude she is not entirely suited to monastic life. So as a test she is sent to be governess in the von Trapp family’s nearby home in the Austrian Tyrol mountains. Emilie Fleming really shines in the role especially as a wide-eyed ingénue and then later under the spell of love for her employer, Captain von Trapp. The captain who has lost his wife and runs his home life like a military operation is performed with perfect complexity by Andrew Lancel.
The seven children are delightfully portrayed and the show comes into its own during their set pieces. The first of these, Do-Re-Mi, is just one of the many earworms this fabulous musical leaves you with. Bill Kenwright’s production benefits from masterful and inventive direction by Martin Connor. And Richard Rodgers’ wonderful score is exquisitely interpreted by MD Jeremy Wootton who we see bobbing up and down throughout in the orchestral pit.
Also noteworthy is Bill Deamer’s choreography, especially for the von Trapp family’s ball when the Captain and Maria dance together, triggering a Cupid’s arrow for both. Gary McCann’s set both frames the narrative and is functional too, setting the scene in the remote mountains. But not remote enough to escape the jaws of the invading Nazis, and after appearing in a musical soiree the family go on the run. No spoilers here but you probably know the outcome from the film already.
Oscar Hammerstein II’s lyrics also develop the story (suggested by The Trapp Family Singers by Maria Augusta Trapp) and the show switches from dialogue to song seamlessly. The songs include the plaintive Edelweiss, the celebratory The Sound of Music and the witty The Lonely Goatherd. Welsh soprano Megan Llewellyn as Mother Abbess really knows how to belt out a good tune. But it is Fleming who blossoms before our eyes who is the mainstay of the piece.
If you are a lover of the film you won’t be disappointed by this staging; or if you just like a tear-jerking good musical this one is for you.
Runs until 29th February 2020