Photos – James Morgan
The Crown Theatre was alive… with the sound of music. And the music was glorious, both in its familiarity and its delivery, with outstanding performances by the entire cast.
The producers followed the script of the lesser-known 1959 stage musical, not the 1965 film, but they more than paid homage to the film, with many scenes and sets that would have pleased Sound of Music die-hards, from the floral curtain costuming to the winding bannister in the Von Trapp home. Scene changes were smooth and the costuming was lavish, with 400 costumes created for the production.
The curtain lifted on the Abbey, and haunting choral music from Mother Abbess (Johanna Allen) and the sisters. Allen’s voice was one of the highlights, transporting the audience to another time and place, where things seemed simpler and purer.
Rising star Amy Lehpamer, who had the unenviable task of living up to Julie Andrews’ much-loved Maria, pulled it off with panache. Her voice was strong without being shrill and she had a good measure of Andrews’ sparkle and earnestness. Cameron Daddo was perfectly cast as Captain Von Trapp and the other big names, Marina Prior and Lorraine Bayly as Baroness Schraeder and Frau Schmidt, shone on stage. The evening held many comic moments, especially when Max Detweiler (David James) was on stage.
The talented troupe of Von Trapp children all hailed from Western Australia, with each city staging the production holding auditions for the six youngest roles. One of the highlights for me was the children’s performance of So Long, Farewell – a cherished scene from the movie.
The Sound of Music is a love story but it is more than that – it deals with themes of loyalty, joy, faith and morality and these themes touch the heart and make it a moving experience. The Captain and Maria’s stand against Nazi rule despite the pressure to conform and play it safe was fleshed out more in this production (and the original stage play I assume) than the film, with lively debates between Captain Von Trapp, Baroness Schraeder and Max Detweiler about the weight of such a decision.
The audience was treated as the Austrian audience at the end of the second half, with the Von Trapp family performing at a concert flanked by Nazi soldiers, which was a clever way of including us and giving us empathy for the situation in which the Austrians found themselves pre-World War II. When the Von Trapp family was safe in the mountains and the lights came on, more than one person was dabbing at their eyes.
The wonder of seeing this magical story played out on stage and singing along to all those memorable songs – How Do You Solve a Problem Like Maria?, My Favorite Things, Do-Re-Mi, Climb Every Mountain, and of course The Sound of Music – is an absolute treat. The challenge is not to annoy colleagues and family members too much in the following days by bursting into song.
Andrew Lloyd Webber, John Frost, David Ian and the Really Useful Group present
The Sound of Music
Rodgers and Hammerstein
Director Jeremy Sams
Venue: Crown Theatre, Perth
Dates: from 14 September 2016
Tickets: from $79.90
Bookings: soundofmusictour.com.au | 136 100