‘The Sound of Music’ was heartwarming.
It’s one of the most treasured musicals of all time and Queensland Musical Theatre certainly created a suitably charming rendition of the beloved ‘The Sound of Music’.
Set to the backdrop of pre WWII Austria, a young postulant is sent from the abbey to be a governess to a former ship captain’s seven children. There, she fosters a love of music within the children and restores the sense of family that they’d missed since their mother passed.
Director Deian Ping creatively utilised the theatrical space to bring this iconic story to life. I particularly enjoyed Ping creating an immersive environment during the Von Trapp family’s singing competition, with the audience feeling like the concert audience and the Nazi soldiers standing up into the audience, suspiciously watching from the sidelines.
Most of the show’s scene changes occurred during somewhat lengthy blackouts, which made the production feel slightly stilted. More fluid scene transitions would have perhaps been beneficial.
Alongside Gerard Livsey, Ping’s set design formed a mini Austria in Australia at the Twelfth Night Theatre. From the grand walls of the abbey to the Swiss Alps backdrop, the set–alongside stunning lighting design by Tom Dodds–developed striking visuals that assisted the production wonderfully. Costume design also by Ping was apt for each character and the children’s play clothes made from curtains were delightfully rustic.
One of the standout features of this production were the harmonies under Julie Whiting’s musical direction. While everyone knows the iconic songs such as the titular tune, ‘Favourite Things’ or ‘Do-Re-Mi’, it’s easy to forget the beautiful music and harmonies from the abbey. The Sisters opened the show with an utterly stunning rendition of ‘Praeludium’ and set the tone of the quality musical to follow.
Isabel Byrne’s choreography further immersed the audience in the style of the production and era. From the Von Trapp children’s joyous and wholesome moves to the traditional Ländler to the waltz, each dance seemed quaint and nostalgic.
There is immense pressure to live up to the legacy of Julie Andrews, but Lara Boyle played Maria impeccably. She conveyed all the sweetness, sincerity and spunk this cherished character needs which, combined with warm, crystal clear vocals, demonstrated this was truly a role she was born to play. She lifted every scene she was in and brought the best out of her young scene partners.
As the Captain Von Trapp, Nathaniel Currie truly encapsulated a strict sea commander and his progressing feelings for Maria were believable and heart-warming. His rendition of ‘Eidelweiss’ as he said goodbye to Austria was particularly touching. His children, played by Madeline Harper, Aiden Huntley, Sienna Randall, Benjamin O’Regan-Lambert, Genevieve Krause, Matia Godbold and Matilda Wilson as part of the Nonnberg cast, were absolute stars. They had natural family chemistry, wonderful vocals and clearly revelled in their cheeky roles; always putting a smile on your face whenever they were on stage. A special mention has to go to the littlest member of the Von Trapp family, Matilda Wilson as Gretl, whose adorable grin and commitment to her role had the audience completely enamoured.
Kathyrn Bradbury shone as Mother Abbess with divine vocals and a warm solemnity. Her rendition of ‘Climb Every Mountain’ was a standout number of the show. Alongside Kristie Rabbit, Kellie Wilson and Catherine Schwarten as Sisters Margaretta, Sophia and Berthe, the quartet injected some entertaining comic timing.
As the post boy turned Nazi, Rolf, Quinn Chambers was highly convincing as a romantic teen with a twinkle in his eye and his performance of ‘Sixteen Going on Seventeen’ with Harper as Liesl was the perfect blend of naïve flirtation.
Another standout performer was Kate Retzki as The Baroness who drew the audience in with an enigmatic presence. Whilst we agree with the children and don’t want her to be the Captain’s choice, Retzki still brought a likeability and humanness to an otherwise irritating character.
Overall, Queensland Musical Theatre should be highly commended for creating such a beautiful piece of theatre. It’s always delightful to see a treasured classic on stage and seeing it done with such grace and homage to the original brought a tear to my eye, as I’m sure it did for many others.
The Twelfth Night Theatre was alive with ‘The Sound of Music’ until Sunday 12 June. To find out about upcoming shows, visit the Queensland Musical Theatre website.