The Sound of MusicPosted on: 16 August 2013 by Laurence Green
Laurence Green says, "a show which will melt your heart and send you out into the night humming its lovely tunes. A definite hit!"
One of the best loved musical of all time is back in a sparkling new production. It is of course Rodgers and Hammerstein’s The Sound of Music which now takes up summer residence in the idyllic setting of the Open Air Theatre Regent’s Park.
Set on the eve of the 1938 Anschluss, the story, as you may recall, centres on feisty Austrian nun Maria who becomes governess to the seven offspring of widowed naval captain Georg van Trapp and manages to win the hearts of not only the children but also the captain, who is transformed from rigid patriarch into affectionate father. The mood, darkens, however, in the second half as the Nazi threat becomes ever more menacing, with armed soldiers sporting swastikas patrolling the auditorium.
Director Rachel Kavanaugh scrupulously avoids the saccharine elements of the famous film version and, in eschewing sentimentality, has created a far more realistic telling of a tale that is actually based on a true story. And then there is Rodgers and Hammerstein’s glorious score which includes such classics as Edelweiss, Do-Re-Mi, Climb Ev’ry Mountain, My Favourite Things, Sixteen Goping on Seventeen and the enchanting title number The Sound of Music. There is also the inclusion of one song No Way To Stop It which was omitted from the movie and successfully spears the false hopes of appeasement.
Furthermore there are some smart touches of wit which are neatly counterbalanced by the tension and drama that are introduced in the later stages, while the elegant set and costumes are highly effective.
But this production may be best remembered for a superb central performance by Charlotte Wakefield stepping into the role played by Julie Andrews in the film, who manages to be funny, forthright and movingly vulnerable as Maria, while her bright soprano voice, has a bell-like clarity and her rapport with the child actors feels, delightfully natural and spontaneous. Michael Xavier brings a fine understated poignancy to the role of on Trapp, determined not to yield to Nazi pressure, whose grief-stricken heart melts under Maria’s benigh influence. Helen Hobson, meanwhile combines spiritual wisdom with a soaring voice in the role of the Mother Abbess and there is an engaging comic performance from Michael Matus as a cynical impresario.
This, then, is a show which will melt your heart and send you out into the night humming its lovely tunes. A definite hit!
The Sound of Music at Open Air Theatre Regent’s Park runs until Saturday 7 September
Box office: 0844 826 4242
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