Music: Richard Rodgers
Lyrics: Oscar Hammerstein II
Book: Howard Lindsay &Russel Crouse
Director: Martin Connor
Choreographer: Bill Deamer
Designer: Gary McCann
Reviewer: Lauren Humphreys
Richard Rogers and Oscar Hammerstein II’s, musical theatre classic The Sound of Music is still managing to delight audiences, almost 60 years on since its first appearance on stage.
On Gary McCann’s impressive set, complemented by Nick Richings’ perfectly judged lighting design, with an exquisite sounding orchestra led by David Steadman, and under Martin Connor’s sure-footed direction, this polished production is a quality piece of musical theatre.
Danielle Hope is a fresh-faced and youthful Maria (saddled howeverwith a rather unfortunate wig) who has clearly been taking lessons at the Julie Andrews’ School of Musical Theatre Diction, her dialogue is razor sharp and her enunciation would make Miss Andrews proud. She is also in possession of an impressive vocal range which she uses to great effect in these much-loved classics. If criticism were to be made though, she does lack a little of the vitality and spark that the rôle requires.
Hope has in support, a strong ensemble cast: the troupe of von Trapp children are a beguiling bunch, delightfully un-precocious and singing like angels, they manage to bring a realism to rôles which have, in other productions, tended to verge upon the saccharine sweet. Jan Hartley’s Mother Abbess rendition of the anthem “Climb Ev’ry Mountain” is also worthy of praise; quite literally a show-stopper, bringing as it does the curtain down on Act One and Steven Houghton is a solid, if at times a little stiff, Captain von Trapp, he does however deliver a well-judged, heart-felt “Edelweiss” as the show builds to its conclusion.
Where the 2015 tour deviates from previous productions is that it trims Maria’s “I Have Confidence” (possibly due to its already lengthy running time) and the Nazi threat that pervades the big screen version is somewhat missing here. However, when the swastika background drops down during the family’s appearance at the music festival, there is a tangible mood shift in the auditorium.
It remains a great story, with truly great songs and there is much to praise here in this deftly-handled production with itssolid and highly accomplished cast. It is so well-loved, by so many, that to criticise it is like kicking a puppy. If a show can make the corners of your mouth turn up involuntarily into a smile on recognition of the first notes of a tune, then ithas got to be a winner in anyone’s book.
Runs until Saturday 28 February 2015 then touring
Photo credit: Pamela Raith