Music by Richard Rodgers
Lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein 11
Directed by Jeremy Sams
Musical Direction by Luke Hunter
Presented by Andrew Lloyd Webber, David Ian, John Frost and The Really Useful Group
Capitol Theatre Sydney 17th December until 28th February 2016.
Reviewed by Bill Stephens
One of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s most enduring musicals , “The Sound of Music” returns to Sydney in a superb production which demonstrates why this show continues to delight audiences just as much as it ever did, even some 56 years after it first appeared on Broadway.
For those who know the show only through the Julie Andrews film, this production will contain some surprises, particularly in the placement of the songs. Director, Jeremy Sams has wisely returned to the stage version, but has also included two songs written specifically for the film, “I Have Confidence” and “Something Good”. Both work beautifully in this production.
He has also restored the two songs sung by Baroness and Max, not used for the film, “How Can Love Survive” and “No Way To Stop It”. Their inclusion better clarifies the Captains sudden decision not to go ahead with his planned marriage to the Baroness. Elsewhere he has tightened the action so that the show flows seamlessly from scene to scene.
|Amy Lehpamer and the children singing "The Lonely Goatherd"|
Though not as spectacular as expected, this touring version of the production first presented in the London Palladium in 2006, still offers much to enjoy. Sunsets and twinkling stars arrive on cue; the storm is frightening; the opening “Preludium” with its large contingent of nuns dissolving into Maria on the mountain singing “The Sound of Music” is thrilling, as is Jaqueline Dark’s sublime rendition of “Climb Every Mountain” which closes the first act.
There are also some surprises in the interpretations of the roles. This Maria, as played by Amy Lehpamer, is very much the unsophisticated country girl, impetuous, gauche and exactly as the nuns describe her in “Maria”. She also sings like a dream and her exuberant interaction with the von Trapp children is thoroughly delightful, especially with the eldest daughter Leisl, charmingly portrayed by Stefanie Jones. Their duet in the second act, “Sixteen Going On Seventeen”, provides one of the most poignant moments in the show.
|Cameron Daddo with the von Trapp children|
By contrast, Cameron Daddo offers a rather reserved interpretation of Captain von Trapp. However he sings pleasantly, and certainly has the requisite looks and charm to persuade any nun to give up her vows.
Marina Prior brings unexpected warmth and vulnerability to her portrayal of the Baroness Schraeder so that your heart goes out to her in her awkward attempts to mimic Maria’s easy rapport with the children. David James’ flamboyant portrayal of the festival director, Max Detweiler works well in contrast.
|Cameron Daddo, David James and Marina Prior sing "No Way To Stop It"|
Theatre veteran Lorraine Bayly, despite a heavy fall early during the first night performance, went on to charm the audience with her jolly, bustling Frau Schmidt, a neat contrast to the tall Philip Dodd as the von Trap household butler.
|Jacqueline Dark as The Mother Abbess|
Opera Australia alumni, Jacqueline Dark, (The Mother Abbess), Dominica Matthews, (Sister Berthe) and Joanna Allen, (Sister Sophia) together with Eleanor Blythman (Sister Margaretta) and a team of lustrously voiced nuns provide Nonnberg Abbey with a sensational heavenly choir who unerringly lift the spirits during the “Preludium”, “The Wedding Processional” and of course “Climb Every Mountain”.
Then there are the von Trapp children. Too good and too clever to be true, but who would have them any other way ? The first night team impressed mightily with their spirited acting, accurate singing and confident execution of the often quite demanding choreography, especially for the joyous “Do- Re-Mi”.
If you’re one of those people who love “The Sound of Music”, you won’t need urging to see this new production. If you’re among those who feel they couldn’t bear to sit through it again.. Believe me ..you can ..and you’ll love it. Give the kids- and yourself- a treat. Take them along to experience this real-live version of their favourite movie.