In all his years of reviewing this reviewer has never had the opportunity to review a professional touring stage production of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s ever popular musical The Sound Of Music, until now. The long wait proves very much worth while as this fabulous production finally lands on the Nottingham Theatre Royal stage. It is richly dressed in costume and extra-ordinary sets. The entire cast and orchestra are 150% perfect and the singing and live orchestration are crystal clear and performed with great honesty, clarity and warmth by all the stellar cast. Bill Kenwright’s new production is such an absolute winner that we at East Midlands Theatre.com feel like climbing a few high mountains ourselves and shouting its praises, from their peaks, out to the whole world. Nick Richings’ superb lighting and pin sharp sound by Dan Samson add enormously to the overall grand effect of this show.
The stunning set transitions from location to location just melt into place and the whole show is dripping with talent. In the main role as Maria Rainer Lucy O’Byrne has the character balance just right. Her singing is exemplary and it is no surprise that she is winning legions of fans as the UK tour progresses. Andrew Lancel’s Captain Von Trapp is spot on. He is not so strict that it jars when he changes from Naval Commander of his household to loving father and romantically inclined towards the new governess Maria. Lancel’s mellow singing voice is seldom used in the show but when it is it is a match for any of the other performers and shows the true tenderness of his character well.
The Von Trapp children performers this evening are Zach Loizou (Friedrich), Elsa McKenna (Louisa), Zac Pile (Kurt), Ruby Stokes (Brigitta), Jessie Popkiewicz-Smith (Marta) and the very sweet Alana Willis as (Gretl). All of the children put in impeccable performances looking and behaving like the well to do Austrian children of the early 1940s. The elder daughter Liesel is performed with great affection by Annie Holland and wonderfully matched by a very athletic and choreographically and musically competent Kane Verrall as her young admirer Rolf Gruber.
Actor Howard Samuels lends a very slightly camp and light character note to The Sound of Music story as Max Detweiler and Lucy Van Gasse is totally perfect as Elsa Schraeder. The Mother Abbess must be a wonderful role for an actor/singer to play and in this production Jan Hartley soars into singing action pushing those powerful notes in ‘Climb Every Mountain’ out over the full Nottingham Theatre Royal auditorium and over the proverbial mountains of Nottinghamshire.
This reviewer spent most of the show in perpetual awe at the stunning standards of this production that instantly took him back to his own childhood when his parents would constantly play the original soundtrack on a music centre in the living room. He is completely sold on the musical drama so much that he half expects to walk out of the Nottingham Theatre Royal and find himself in 1940s Salzburg!
Directed by Martin Connor , choreographed by Bill Deamer and musically directed by David Steadman this spectacular Bill Kenwright touring production of The Sound of Music is visually very sound and musical perfection.
Running at Nottingham Theatre Royal until 24 September.
Reviewer: Phil Lowe