The Sound of MusicLeft - Corinne Davies, Lena Inkson and Peter Knol. Cover - Ann Adlem as the Mother Abbess. Photos - Gary Marsh

The audience fell silent as the auditorium lights dimmed. Flakes of snow fell onto the cold, stark white stage as nuns glided into view singing ‘Preludium’. The ensemble gathered to mourn the wife of Captain Von Trapp in muted colours and tones.

It was a grim, yet beautifully touching opening to the 2010 MS Society’s Production of The Sound of Music, and a precursor for the wonderful night yet to come. Directed and designed by John Senczuk the performance was enjoyable, moving and memorable. If a tad too long.

A raised, sloping stage upon the stage ensured the audience could see the drama. It was much smaller than the stage width which I found odd, but it was still helpful to define the primary area of action. An angled proscenium at the back of the stage framed the mountains and cyclorama, both of which were used well and lit superbly by Trent Suidgeest. Overall the lighting was subtle and effective.

The costumes (designed by Senczuk and Penny Mazzucchelli) were fairly classic (there isn’t much you can do with a nun’s habit). There were several stunning outfits for Elsa (the Baroness), including an eye catching red dress for the ballroom scene. The Captains casual outfits were too modern for my liking, but I adored the children’s curtains and travelling outfits, and Maria’s wedding dress was divine.

Choreography by Carolyn Sinnett was excellent, especially the ballroom sequence on the sloping floor. As Musical Director, Tim Cunniffe has used his usual brilliance to bring out the best in every performer and musician and conducted a tight compact band. The ensemble as a whole was fantastic, working well together, with powerful and high quality singing.

Sadly the sound quality, as always at the Regal, lacked the precision needed when dealing with multiple microphones and changes between speaking and singing. The entire sound level could have been brought down a few notches, and more attention needed to be paid to blending the sound so it wasn’t so obvious it was coming out of a speaker 10 meters above the performer’s heads. On the plus side, the miking of the band was good, and didn’t drown out the singing.

This production has three different children’s casts, and I had the pleasure of seeing the Snowflake cast. They had evidently spent time getting to know each other as they were relaxed and familiar on stage. Unfortunately as Liesel, Alysha McGreevy didn’t connect well with Rolf (Tim Campbell) leading to a disappointing rendition of ‘16 going on 17’; but McGreevy came into her own as the performance went on. Kurt (Ashlea Tunbridge) and Friedrich (Laurence Westrip) looked like they were having the most fun, and it was a joy to watch them carry through with their characters even when the spotlight wasn’t on them.

Gretel (Chloe Marlow) had the lines that made the entire audience coo, and Brigitta (Emily Galineau) was poetically pragmatic. The highlight of the children’s performance overall was during the storm scene as they sang ‘The Lonely Goatherd’ and at the Salzburg Concert performing ‘Do-re-mi’.

Peter Knol was perfect for the Captain whilst talking and singing, although he has a bad habit of listening with his mouth open which made him look awkward. His voice was rich and deep, and his accent (Knol is from the Netherlands) added to the element of formality. As the forthright Maria, Casey Edwards bubbled with personality and life, and sang as if it was bursting out of her. She was passionate, talented and truly embodied the character of Maria.

The star for me was Ann Adlem as Mother Superior. Regal yet compassionate, Adlem managed to convey an experienced and worldly character that made me (and I expect the entire audience) want to listen to her advice. Her renditions of ‘Climb Every Mountain’ caused my heart to leap into my throat and goose bumps appear on my arms.

At the end of the night I left with a tear in my eye, a spring in my step, beautiful visual images and some classic songs going around and around and around in my head. This is a great production, and I encourage everyone to see it.

Multiple Sclerosis Society of Western Australia presents
The Sound of Music

Director John Senczuk
Musical Director Tim Cunniffe

Venue: Regal Theatre, Perth
Dates: 8 - 17 October, 2010
Duration: 2hr 30 (including 20 min interval)
Tickets: $80.00 - $29.00
Bookings: 1300 795 012 | (transaction fees apply)

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