Well, its 2016 now (Happy New Year to everyone), and the opening show for my reviews this year is the classic “The Sound of Music” by Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II. This show is probably the most well known of all their many creations and to many represents this team at their creative peak. Sadly, this was also their last show as Oscar Hammerstein II died within a year of its first theatrical performance.
I was, to be honest, a bit apprehensive of this show as there is always one big potential downside to anyone singing the lead role of Maria, and that is that they are always in danger of being compared to Julie Andrews in the classic 1965 film version that is probably lodged firmly in so many people’s memories.
The upside of course is that whoever plays this part also gets to perform what are some of the best known musical numbers from any stage show (or film). In fact, the whole show is just full of so many classics that it is sometimes easy to forget that they are all from the source . Who out there does not know “The Sound of Music”, “My Favourite Things”, Do-Re-Mi”, “Edelweiss” and many more?
Lucy O’Byrne as Maria, I am happy to say, was a very pleasant surprise and a really good Maria. Sometimes, performers known best in recent years for their appearances on television shows such as “The Voice” may have the vocal abilities for a role like this, but do they have the acting and stage presence abilities? Well, Lucy can sing and act and brings an at times fragile and very gentle “Maria” to the stage. This is a Maria that you can actually take an interest in and care what happens to her.
Gray O’Brien as Captain Von Trapp gives us a solid performance of a military man who likes order in his life and from those around him, but there are also nice moments as Gray gives us a man who has been deeply affected by the death of his wife and only starting to come alive again when he meets Maria.
The Von Trapp children of course get to take a large part of the credit for any success of this show and they are all very good in their roles. Annie Horn as eldest (Liesl) gets the chance to perform one of the show’s classics – “Sixteen Going on Seventeen” along with love interest Rolf (Kane Verrall) and they both get a really nice dance routine to go with it.
Other good performances tonight are from Isla Carter (Elsa Schraeder) and Duncan Smith (Max Detweiler). Jan Hartley as Mother Abbess does for me steal a few scenes with great performances of “My Favourite Things” and “Climb Ev’ry Mountain”.
This production also has some very good stage sets that are designed with enough care to look great when in place, but also move quickly and easily between the required changes.
A real surprise and simply a great night out at the theatre for people of pretty much any age.
Review byTom King