The Sound of MusicPhotos – James Morgan

There is every reason why this fabulous show has earned its reputation as the world’s favourite musical. It has great music, rich story, fine characterisations, and sentimental and emotional appeal to burn. This production, first aired at the London Palladium in 2006 deserves all the accolades it has earned around the world. Adelaide is fortunate to have it as part of its Oz tour, demonstrating the complete suitability of our Festival Theatre to large, lush and lavish productions.

Amy Lehpamer as Maria leads a fine cast, some of whom may be feeling a little jaded after so many performances since starting in Sydney eight months ago, so that there is some unevenness beginning to show. The ever-flexible Lehpamer is as fresh, clear voiced  and spontaneous as a very appealing Maria; the suave Cameron Daddo is a suitably staid Captain von Trapp, and contributes nicely to the growing tension through the “Edelweiss” performance; and the seasoned Marina Prior is a nicer Baroness Schraeder than other performances have portrayed. 

Stephanie Jones could have stepped straight out of the famous film as Liesl, and displays some experienced movement in the chorography (by Arlene Phillips) with the fresh-voiced Du Toit Bredenkamp as Rolf in the doubtfully PC implications of Sixteen going on Seventeen. The veteran Lorraine Bayly is a sweet, frumpish Frau Schmidt, and David James just gets away with being almost OTT as the self-serving, bet-hedging Max Dettweiler

But the real scene stealers for charm, ability and cuteness are the six children, specially chosen for the Adelaide performances. Who says, ”Never act with children (or animals)”? These kids are a definite asset to this show and to this company. Their enthusiasm and ability was well displayed in their Do-Re-Mi  and The Lonely Goatherd, and their singing could show some of the adults a thing or two in terms of blend and ensemble. 

The big disappointment on opening night was the unity (in blend and even in pitch) of the Nuns chorus, and their rather energetic movement as a certain lack of the dignity and serenity one may have come to expect from a group of holy sisters. Led by the experienced and powerfully operatic Jacqueline Dark as the Mother Abbess, (who was much more focussed in her show-stopping Climb Every Mountain), there are nevertheless, some nice moments with the Nuns as they contemplate How to Solve a Problem Like Maria, and in the Wedding Chorus. Incidentally, there is a very fine big pipe organ lurking backstage in this theatre which can be played from a console in the pit. Its lack of use in this scene was a missed opportunity.

The sets and costumes (by Robert Jones) in this production are superb, and seamlessly changed, morphing from crisp mountain top to dark abbey to grand villa and its garden, and more, all perfectly lit (by Mark Henderson), appropriately portending the shadow of war and the Anschluss in the second act. The Orchestra, directed by Luke Hunter was excellent, well balanced and never overwhelming.

As brilliant as the production is, the music itself is the real star of this show. Some cannot restrain themselves from wanting to sing along, and indeed the performance almost invites this, as the music is so well known. If you’ve seen it before, go and see this performance for a great reprise. If you haven’t seen it before, climb every mountain and ford every stream to get there.

Andrew Lloyd-Webber, David Ian, John Frost and the Really Useful Group present
by Richard Rogers (Music) and Oscar Hammerstein II (Lyrics) | book by Howard Lindsay and Russell Crouse

Director Jeremy Sams

Venue: Festival Theatre, Adelaide
Dates: from 9 August 2016
Times: Wed–Sat 7.30pm, Wed 1.00pm, Sat 2.00pm, Sun 1pm and 6pm
Tickets: from $79.90
Bookings: | 131 246

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