Fans of Connie Fisher may arrive at The Sound of Music - slightly disappointed that they will not see their Maria in the current tour of the hit show. But by the time that the wonderfully warm Verity Rushworth sings her last note, they may concede - like me - that the problem is well and truly solved, as she gives a magical turn, filled with versatility.
Connie was always very credible and on good nights, she could convey the emotion of the piece very well and her vocals were superb. But, Rushworth acts her socks off, imbues Maria with the tom boy elements that the role demands and her rapport with both Jason Donovan (Captain Georg Von Trapp) and the children is a joy to watch.
It's a shame that Donovan does not really match her vocally or in terms of performance, as he is saddled with a muddled accent and plays the Captain as stiff, as opposed to repressed. But, whenever Rushworth shares the stage with him, he raises his game - she is that talented.
Rogers and Hammerstein's Music and lyrics are so well known that as soon as you hear the likes of "My Favourite Things", "Sixteen Going On Seventeen", and the title track - your feet start tapping. Rushworth is ably matched by the brilliant Marilyn Hill Smith (The Mother Abbess) who takes the roof off during "Climb Ev'ry Mountain."
There is also great support from Jacinta Mulcahy who makes her Baroness Schrader likeable and sweet, Claire Fishenden and Chris Barton as the love struck couple and Michael Remick as the stuck in a rut - friend of Georg's - Mat Detweiler. The children are all delightful and leave many in the audience visibly moved on the night I attended.
Bec Chippendale's Set does not wobble as much as during the last tour and gives the piece depth, where required. But it's Verity Rushworth who keeps this sweet natured show running like clockwork, as her rich vocals and poignant performance leaves you not wanting to say "So Long, Farewell" to this evergreen classic.