★★★★ | The Sound Of Music

Let’s be honest, The Sound of Music needs no introduction. The story of Maria, who is sent from the Abbey to look after the Von Trapp family, is one that is known to most. This classic musical is crammed full of songs that you cannot help but know the words to, such is their foothold in popular culture. “Climb Every Mountain”, “My Favourite Things”, “Sixteen Going on Seventeen” and, of course, “The Sound of Music” are all in there, but the question is, with a show which has been performed so frequently over so many years, what can a new version bring to the stage?

Firstly, this production brings a very good cast. Danielle Hope, who made her professional debut as Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz, following winning the BBC’s Over the Rainbow program, was very impressive. Her singing voice was beautiful and effortless and her stage presence could be felt. Staying on the right side of twee, she made a very good Maria and had won me over by the conclusion of her first number. Jan Hartley utterly blew the audience away with her goose pimple-inducing rendition of “Climb Every Mountain” and Grace Chapman was equally impressive and perfectly natural in her role as Liesl. Most surprisingly for me though, was the incredible talent of the youngsters playing the Von Trapp children.

This production also brings with it a remarkable set. Appearing grand in scale (especially for a touring production), detailed and effective, it lifts the production and makes it feel fresh.The lighting and direction were of a high standard and the addition of a live orchestra only enhanced the experience. The sound in the theatre was perfect with a superb balance of music and lyrics and the performers delivered perfect diction in every line allowing the words to be heard clearly. Technically, it was a well-put together show.
Where the production faltered slightly was in the overly camp portrayal of (Uncle) Max Detweiler and that sometimes, especially during the party scenes, the number of people in the touring cast didn’t quite fill the stage. However, I wouldn’t necessarily hold these very trivial quibbles against such a broadly enjoyable production.

Having seen the Sound of Music undertaken by numerous professional companies over the years I have to say that this is perhaps the best version I’ve seen. Of course it’s camp, of course it’s kitsch, but therein lays the fun and the enduring appeal of this show. This touring production seems to really revitalise the show as a whole, so iron your wimple, polish your sailors whistle and catch this production on national tour.

The Sound of Music plays at the Sheffield Lyceum until 14 February 2015 (www.sheffieldtheatres.co.uk) before continuing on its national tour (http://www.kenwright.com/index.php?id=1440)

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By Paul Szabo

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Also playing at:
Kings Theatre, Glasgow
Sands Theatre, Carlisle
New Theatre, Cardiff
Wimbledon Theatre, Wimbledon
New Theatre, Hull
Milton Keynes Theatre, Milton Keynes
New Victoria Theatre, Woking
Hippodrome Theatre, Bristol
Congress Theatre Eastbourne
Grand Theatre, Leeds
Grand Opera House, Belfast
Bord Gais Theatre, Dublin
The Lowry, Salford

About the author: Paul Szabo
In between visits to the theatre, watching films, photography, walking, scuba diving and singing (badly); Paul writes for TheGayUK.