Let’s start at the very beginning, a very good place to start…
The Sound of Music isn’t just a musical, nor is it just a film, it’s a story that is embroiled in many people’s history or childhood, much like it was mine.
If you haven’t seen the film or stage show previously, it tells the story of Maria, a nun in training and how taking leave of her duties to become the governess to 8 children of ex Navy officer and widower, Captain Von Trapp leads her on a completely different path than the one she was once following.
Following the death of his wife, Maria brings the sound of music back into the Von Trapp house and in doing so awakens a part of the Captain that had meant he detached himself from his children. The film is set in 1940s Austria at the the time of the Nazi threat and is a sobering backdrop of the era which makes this so much more than just a love story.
Come Easter, Christmas or a dreary Sunday afternoon, I would sit with my Nanna and partake in the twice yearly showings on TV and sing along at the top of my lungs to song after song. I would chuckle at the nuns in the Abbey who made becomibg a nun seem hilarious, watch wide eyed and in awe when Liesl and Rolf dance in the rain and swoon over Captain Von Trapp.
The film holds such a special place in my heart that when I heard it would embark and after only seeing it as a movie, I was both excited and nervous. How could they capture the looming corridors of the Abbey, the vastness of Maria’s mountains and the sprawling estate of the Von Trapps on a such a small stage and furthermore, how could they possibly perform The Sound of Music without the national treasure that is Julie Andrews as the flibbertijibbet, Maria.
Somehow they managed it and to be entirely honest, I was blown away.
The Sound of Music isn’t the rip roaring and fast paced show you’d expect to see from shows at the theatre today. There’s no bells, whistles or special effects for example but what there is is beautiful and grand stage backdrops, including the dark wooden interiors and pillars of the Abbey, the sweeping staircase of the Von Trapp’s house and of course, the mountain, incredible acting and an extremely talented cast.
The stage show didn’t differ too much from the film, aside from a couple of new songs. In fact there were parts where I suspect the dialogue was pretty much word for word as the film (I should know, I could pretty much recite it to you whilst standing on my head) and even minute moments of interaction between Maria and the children could have been lifted directly from the 1965 film. I heard through the grapevine following the stage show being broadcast live on ITV over the Christmas period that social media was up in arms over the timings of the iconic songs and I was concerned that it would throw the show off kilter – the Lonely Goatherd without puppets, are you insane? I needn’t have worried, the delivery of classic songs such as Do Re Mi, Favourite Things and Something Good were perfect and punctuated the story telling brilliantly.
Lucy O’Byrne was Maria to the T. Scatty, adventurous, wide eyed and unsure of her path in life after joining the Abbey, her transition from nun to governess to friend and then to wife was delivered outstandlingly. To say she mirrored the performance given by Julie Andrews would be an understatement.
Her mannerisms and even inflections on certain words made it so to all intents and purpose Maria may as well have that left that mountain in 1965 and wandered straight onto the stage of the Regent Theatre.
She was note perfect throughout the show and her scenes with Gray O’Brien as the disciplinarian (and devilishly handsome) Captain Von Trapp gave me the same butterflies as they had when I was 10 years old sat on the floor of my Nanna’s living room, eating jam and bread and singing my bloody heart out.
The Von Trapp children are the heart and soul of this show. Had these roles been cast wrong the show would fallen apart at the seams but each of the 8 children are incredible actors and their interaction on stage as a family is so heart warming to watch, I especially aww’d over memorable moments such as Gretal’s poorly finger, Kurt and Friedrich being scared of the thunder and Liesl’s discovery at Rolph’s betrayal of the family.
The most poignant scene of all for me was Captain Von Trapps final performance at Kaltzberg Festival against the backdrop of the Nazi flag, singing to his beautiful Austria and unknowing of the fate of him and his family following that night. True to tradition, the tremor in the captains voice during the final words of this song began the waterworks and I was left dabbing at the tears rolled down my cheeks.
Looking at the audience of the theatre it was astounding to see the difference in generations enjoying the show, but then this is a show which defies an era, it’s a story which will long see generations of a family fall in love with the music and message of hope that has been retold for over 50 years (or sung for a thousand years!)
The Sound of Music UK Tour kicked of a namazing year of theatre at the Regent Theatre and you can catch it until Saturday 23rd January. Tickets are available online or via the box office.