Launching in a stunning and almost foreboding display with nuns floating through the audience illuminated by candles, the latest incarnation of The Sound of Music smoothly transitions to the famous mountaintop melody of the title song to continue tumbling from one superb rendition of it’s well-worn musical numbers to the next––occasionally interrupted by slightly strained dialogue.
50 years on from the exhaustively celebrated 1965 film adaption, this visually lavish production comes from the London Palladium. Its run on the Sydney stage is sure to delight fans young and old.
Props must be given to the casting directors; the relatively unknown Amy Lehpamer earns her stripes as a Julie-Andrews-incarnate in the lead role of the charming but misguided Maria. The opening night audience let out instinctive cheers for the most recognisable faces––including Lorraine Bayly (long time Australian variety performer extraordinaire) as housemaid Frau Schmidt; the obligatory Daddo family representative, Cameron Daddo, as the stern Captain Von Trapp; and the ever effervescent Marina Prior as the Baroness Schraeder.
David James wholly embraces his role of the loveable ‘Uncle’ Max Detweiler. A true standout however is Jacqueline Dark as the Mother Abbess, her rousing rendition of ‘Climb Every Mountain’ drawing the biggest applause.
The Sound of Music is in many ways a victim of it’s own popularity, this ‘light family story’ does address a dark time in history, a rude awakening when you find yourself sitting in front of a stage slathered in Nazi propaganda.
Some beneficial scenes that many would remember from the film are skipped over, and these story details are missed, resulting in a somewhat jarring experience when Maria and the Captain eventually confess their love. But her on-stage relationship with the Von Trapp children is totally endearing.
Many gaps can be filled from one’s own memories (and really, if you’re not a die hard Sound of Music fan I’m not sure why you’d be buying tickets). All around it is a worthy production of a true classic musical. (AM)