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“So long, farewell, Auf Wiedersehen, goodnight...”
Ah, there’s nothing quite like a good sing-a-long whilst outrunning the Nazis to combat the January blues, is there?
Yes, The Sound Of Music is back on the stage, folks, and Bill Kenwright’s production is big on production values, high on singing quality, and bathed in unapologetic sentiment.
Question is, just how do you solve a problem like Maria? Easy. Wheel in 23-year-old runner-up of The Voice, Lucy O’ Byrne.
Not only does the Irish red-head capture the pixie-ish look of Julie Andrews, she more than holds her own as Maria Rainer, the fun-loving Nun who becomes governess to the seven von Trapp children.
Set in Austria, 1938, just as the Nazis are about to annex the country, much of the tale focuses on how Maria brings love and music to the children’s previously strict-disciplined lives.
She soon falls in love with the uber-stiff Captain von Trapp, Coronation Street’s Gray O’ Brien.
Note, most of the love triangle between Mariam von Trapp and his fiancee, Esla Schraeder (Isla Carter), takes place off-stage, then it’s a race to see whether the all-singing family can flee the Third Reich in time.
Indeed, it’s the advent of the Nazis, three-quarters through the show, that brings much needed tension and drama to an otherwise nice but slow-burning production.
Thankfully, Rodgers & Hammerstein’s classic songs are all polished to perfection, Jan Hartley’s life-affirming Climb Ev’ry Mountain (Mother Abbess’s saving grace), and a majestic set (that accurately reflects the von Trapp’s wealth), make it all well worth sticking with.
The von Trapp children, meanwhile, go way and beyond what one might hope for in a show where children feature so widely.
Overall then, a solid, if slightly slow-paced revival. Nevertheless, those who love the 1965 movie version will undoubtedly love this, too.
Run ends Saturday