Tuesday 21st July: Leeds Grand Theatre.
The Sound of Music has been a household name and musical icon since its Broadway debut in 1959, and its recent debut at Leeds Grand firmly supported this with a standing ovation on Tuesday night. Based on a true story, Rogers and Hammerstein’s musical portrays the story of Maria, who becomes enlisted as governess for the Von Trapp family. Teaching the large family of 7 children the way to happiness through music and song, Maria transforms the lives of the Von Trapps as they witness the transformation of Austria and soon become outsiders – the only way of finding happiness being to flee the country.
Unlike the recent era of reinventing classics for a postmodern audience, the success of this production is owed to its traditional portrayal of the show.
This particular production was warm and bold throughout. Slick set changes between the abbey and the Von Trapp household left the younger audience members mesmerised, even if their patience began to wane after the ninety minute first act. Needless to say, they forgave the show for its duration in lieu of hearing their favourite songs on stage. From the soothing title number performed immaculately by Danielle Hope, to Mother Abbess’ show stopping Climb Ev’ry Mountain (performed by Jan Hartley), each section of the show had the perfect combination of pace and dialogue.
Unlike the recent era of reinventing classics for a postmodern audience, the success of this production is owed to its traditional portrayal of the show. Audiences have the opportunity to witness what makes The Sound of Music iconic. Modern technical advances were merely assets to the show, which still is able to impress the modern audience.
The Sound of Music wouldn’t have been so heart-warming if it were not for the talents of the children who performed as the Von Trapp family. The concept of child actors can sometimes deter an audience, but the children who performed in this production beamed professionalism and would be well suited to other child friendly productions such as Matilda. Maria and Captain Von Trapp’s (Steven Houghton) chemistry on stage was well balanced, and although the unfamiliar songs such as How Can Love Survive? fell short compared to the classics, it added to the development of the characters of Elsa Schraeder (Sarah Soetaert) and Max Detweiler (Howard Samuels), which gave the show its fine finishing touches.
Fears of The Sound of Music being outdated were diminished within the opening number of the show and its standing ovation show that countless families will undoubtedly continue to love this recent production of the show.
[Images: Pamela Reith]