When it comes to blockbuster musicals, few shows can claim as faithful
a crowd as Rodgers and Hammerstein’s seminal favourite, The
Sound of Music. The inherent sing-a-long nature of its
classic score is brought lavishly to life in this new production,
returning to the habit after its run at London’s Palladium Theatre.
cannot be many members of the British population who could not, given a
rosary and a guitar, play the part of Sister Maria themselves. There
will not be many songs unfamiliar to audiences: numbers such as “Do Re
Me“, “My Favourite Things” and “Eidelweiss” have entered the liturgy of
popular musical theatre.
Sister Maria, a restless
incumbent to a nunnery at the foot of the Alps, is sent by her Mother
Superior to act as governess to the Von Trapp family. Teaching the
children to abandon the strict lifestyle imposed on them by their
regimental father, the family learn to welcome the sound of music into
their lives. But the story is not all bright copper kettles and warm
woollen mittens: the encroaching menace of Nazi occupation in Austria
is sinisterly explored as Captain Von Trapp is forced to choose between
his Naval career and his country.
comfortably returns to the role which made her an overnight West End
star. Excelling as Sister Maria, Fisher cheerfully bounces around the
stage, effortlessly demonstrating the vocal sweetness and charisma
which earned her the role. Her performance captures the familiarity of
Julie Andrews’ portrayal of Maria whilst finding a unique sense of
Fisher is backed up by a solid cast.
Margaret Preece’s performance as the Mother Superior is heavenly. The
strong, operatic voice of the West End leading lady during “Climb Every
Mountain” is at once both spectacular and chilling. The Von Trapp
children, too, prove sweet and energetic, reaching the top notes as
eagerly as their older co-stars and performing Arlene Philips’ lively
choreography with great enthusiasm.
Though the scale of
the production has undergone some serious reductions since it was last
seen in the West End, Robert Jones’ costume and set design remains
elegant and sophisticated. Norma Desmond would be proud to appear at
the top of Captain Von Trapp’s grand marble art deco staircase and many
a monster would happily live confined within the spectacularly gloomy
cloisters and gothic peaks of Jones’ convent.
The problem of Maria has never been more happily solved than it is in this beautiful new production.