Connie Fisher – who famously won the part through the television series How Do You Solve a Problem Like Maria? – has certainly made the role of Maria Rainer her own, and she is ably supported by a cast in which there isn’t a weak link. Michael Praed is a commanding Captain von Trapp, and I particularly liked the transformation of Liesl (Claire Fishenden) from sulky teenager into insecure young woman. Martin Callaghan is a lively and roguish Max Detweiler, nicely complemented by Jacinta Mulcahy as Baroness Schraeder. The children are suitably enchanting, and even the minor characters emerge as real personalities rather than just being singing wallpaper.
The quality of the voices is excellent throughout – though special mention must go to Marilyn Hill Smith as the Mother Abbess. (And veterans of the New Theatre who are used to putting up with poor sound balance in the venue will be pleased to hear that this is one production that has triumphed over this particular hurdle – those responsible for the sound of this particular music clearly know their stuff!)
There are points one could criticise: from time to time the acting is a little wooden, and an occasional huskiness in her singing voice makes it plain why Connie Fisher isn’t doing all eight shows each week, but these aren’t enough to put much of a dent in the overall experience. This is a fun, heart-warming, uplifting show – great entertainment for the whole family.