Review: The Sound of Music, Ipswich Regent, to February 27
- Credit: Archant
A spirited cast and some great acting, big musical numbers and fabulous singing; a wonderful story tied up happily, these were a few of my favourite things.
Between Maria von Trapp’s 1949 autobiography, Rodgers and Hammerstein’s 1959 Broadway musical and the 1965 Julie Andrews film, the true story of the Trapp family singers’ origins has been resonating with audiences across the globe for more than six decades.
Young Nonnberg Abbey postulant Maria (the runner-up of last year’s The Voice, Lucy O’Byrne) is sent to become the governess of seven children. Their strict father Captain Von Trapp (Gray O’Brien), still grieving the death of his first wife, doesn’t know how to handle them or the free spirited Maria.
Throw in a mismatched fiancée, unexpected romance and a thrilling escape to freedom after the Third Reich marches into Austria and, as O’Brien himself told me, you’ve got the audience on your side from the start.
And we were. This was exactly what you’d expect from a show produced by Bill Kenwright. The choreography, music and performances were top notch.
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Boasting the most well-known songs ever performed on stage – Grease fans may disagree – you couldn’t help but tap your feet to rousing renditions of Climb Ev’ry Mountain, My Favorite Things, Do-Re-Mi, So Long, Farewell and The Sound of Music.
Classical singer O’Byrne and celebrated stage actress Jan Hartley as the Mother Abbess were a particular joy to watch; their voices were stunning. The seven actors playing Liesl, Friedrich, Louisa, Kurt, Brigitta, Marta and Gretl Von Trapp were amazing.
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O’Brien – who joked when I saw the show I’d understand why it was his musical debut – was better than he made out. His performance of Edelweiss was particularly poignant; the sight of the Nazi swastika hanging over the stage proving eerie and unsettling.
He won’t mind me saying he wasn’t the strongest singer of the bunch, but he wrung every drop of emotion out of his role; perhaps the most challenging of everybody’s. It’s why producers typically cast actors rather than singers.
If I had one niggle it was the printed scenery backdrops. Billowing in the draught it looked like an earthquake out the window of the Von Trapp home. A great start to the week-long run though.
Read my interview with O’Byrne and O’Brien here.