Presented by Andrew Lloyd Webber, David Ian, John Frost and The Really Useful Company
Reviewed 12 August 2016
More than just the hills are alive with this absolutely wonderful production of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s classic, The Sound Of Music. There is a vibrancy and exuberance that abounds from all aspects of this latest airing of the well-loved musical.
For those who may have been hiding under the strudel counter of an Austrian bakery, the storyline is simple – set in 1938 Austria, a postulant nun is sent to the home of an ex-Naval hero to look after his seven children (“What’s so fearsome about that?”);the couple end up falling in love; form the Von Trapp Family Singers; and all must flee from the growing Nazi forces – and can be so full of sweetness that one could need a huge dose of Insulin afterwards. NOT the case here!
Director Jeremy Sams maintains the original charm of the show, but has freshened the whole thing up with some very clever little touches, and breathed new life and energy into this version. It is pacy, never dull and sparkles with glorious moments galore. Arlene Phillips’ bright, precision driven choreography and Robert Jones’ stylish evocative sets all add to the freshness. The Abbey sets in particular are stunning and come across as quite authentic.
Sounding a little like Julie Andrews, but never imitating her, Amy Lehpamer is charming as Maria and the audience warm to her immediately. Her rapport with all on stage is spot-on at all times. Cameron Daddo is perhaps the best Captain Von Trapp this reviewer has seen. In a role that has the danger of making the actor stiff and wooden, Daddo is full of military bearing whilst managing to show a nice human quality. It’s so good to see him grace a stage again.
Marina Prior is the perfect choice to play Baroness Schraeder, with her looks and voice as beautiful as ever. The comic role of Max Detweiler is expertly handled by David James. Another who handles the comedy well is the lovely Lorraine Bayly as housekeeper, Frau Schmidt, who at 79 proves that she still has what it takes to entertain. Reminding one of Charmian Carr (the film Liesl), Stephanie Jones is lovely; whilst Du Toit Bredenkamp gives a slightly different interpretation from the norm of Rolf that works well.
As Mother Abbess, Jacqueline Dark gives us the required goose bumps with her stunning rendition of Climb Every Mountain, and is more than ably assisted in the Abbey by Andrea Creighton (Sister Berthe), Eleanor Blythman (Sister Margaretta) and Johanna Allen (Sister Sophia). It must also be mentioned, that when combined with the Ensemble nuns, the harmonies from all are spectacular.
Arguably, the biggest factor that makes or breaks any version of The Sound Of Music (no matter how well everything and everyone else works) is the casting of the six younger Von Trapp children. For the Adelaide season, this production has two sets of local youngsters. Opening night saw Anna McAuliffe (Gretl), Danika Roach (Marta), Alicia Hammond (Brigitta), Oscar Bridges (Kurt), Jacinda Tsakalos (Louisa) and Nathan Stafford (Friedrich) blow the audience away with their cuteness and incredible talent. In particular, Hammond with spot on comic timing, and Bridges and Stafford both demonstrating expert dance skills. All six, however, deserved the standing ovation that they received on Opening Night.
The Sound Of Music doesn’t allow an Ensemble to do much, but this one does it extremely well. Special mention needs to be made of the men who played the Stormtroopers in the Concert scene – I don’t think a bomb going off would have made them blink: a brilliant example of complete concentration.
This reviewer suggests that you climb every mountain, ford every stream, follow every by-way to find this dream of a production.
Reviewed by Brian Godfrey
Venue: Adelaide Festival Theatre
Season: Until 4 Sept 2016
Duration: 2 hours 30 mins (including interval)
Tickets: From $79.90 (An additional transaction fee and/or a credit/debit payment processing fee may apply)
Bookings: www.soundofmusictour.com.au or BASS or 131 246 Groups12+ 08 8205 2220