Theatre in Wales

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An entrancing production

The Sound of Music

touring company , Venue Cymru, Llandudno , May-22-10
The Sound of Music by touring company When The Sound of Music first opened, its story of a governess taking on a family of children and softening towards their autocratic father, seemed little more to me than a re-tread of The King and I. When the film came out I enjoyed it but nowhere near as much as earlier Rodgers & Hammerstein adaptations, nor indeed as much as its later incarnation as Singalonga Sound of Music.

So why did this production grab me from the very opening, keep me absolutely enthralled and entranced right up to and including its final heart-grabbing image?

Partly because it is such a very, very good production. Jeremy Sams' direction keeps things always flowing while making the background events of the anschluss absolutely clear.

I could have happily watched the set form and reform all evening, Robert Jones' designs are ingenious and they move during changes with almost balletic grace.

Then there are the two songs omitted from the film, How Can Love Survive and No Way To Stop It, both sung by Max and the Baroness. They not only give those roles greater depth, they add to the Nazi threat whose undertow is felt earlier in the story than we expect.

But even given all this, what really makes this production so memorable are the performances. It would be difficult to imagine a better Maria than Connie Fisher. She catches all the country girl awkwardness, the ease with the children, the firmness of character that allows Maria to stand up to the Captain and the genuineness of the love that she gradually feels for him. She also of course sings delightfully and is not afraid to move with delectable gawkiness when called for. To top it all her comedy is enchanting. I'm sure I would have enjoyed the production without her but there is something very special about seeing someone fitting like a glove a part they were born to play.

The six younger Trapp children I saw on May the 19th were wonderful. From the moment they came on they simply were the individual members of that particular family and their ensemble work was breathtakingly good. Claire Fishenden caught perfectly Liesl's passage from older sister to young woman with her own confused feelings of growing up.

Michael Praed is every inch the stern but honourable Captain, you really feel his inner turmoil of love, duty and integrity. Marilyn Hill Smith is a delightful Mother Abbess, finding just the right way to deal not only with a problem like Maria but with her other nuns too.

Both Martin Callaghan and Jacinta Mulcahy made the most of the extra depths allowed to Max and the Baroness.

This is a large-scale, colourful, tuneful musical which is also, in this production at least, a deeply satisfying and emotional theatrical event. I loved it and so did the packed house who shared my evening with me.

Reviewed by: Victor Hallett

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