When it comes to blockbuster musicals, few shows can claim as faithful a crowd as Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein’s seminal favourite, The Sound of Music. Andrew Lloyd Webber has brought this classic vividly to life in this multi-million pound production, firing the Technicolor glaze of the original film with new material and sumptuous orchestrations.
There cannot be many theatre goers who could not, given a rosary and a guitar, play the part of Sister Maria, the restless incumbent of a nunnery who is sent to act as governess to the Von Trapp family, helping them to find reconnect through the joy of music. And yet, this is a musical of more than bright copper kettles and warm woollen mittens, setting itself against the encroaching Nazi occupation of Austria.
Verity Rushworth is airy and light as Maria. As vocally clear as a fresh running stream, Rushmore is mellower than her overemphatic predecessor, Connie Fisher, and gives a surprisingly modern, cheekily comedic performance. Jason Donovan is ever the pop-star, physically and vocally: anyone who can glean cat-calls whilst surrounded by swastikas has more than the command of an audience and, furthermore, an excellent command of the character.
Though the scale of the production has undergone reductions since its initial run, Robert Jones’s exquisite costume and set design remains elegant and sophisticated. Beautifully lit by Mark Henderson, the magnificent baroque interiors of the Von Trapp family manor are filled with a splendour evoking Friedrich the Great’s pleasure palaces and many a monster would happily live penned within the gothic peaks and gloomy cloisters of Jones’s god-fearing convent.
Raised by glorious choral numbers and creative choreography, The Sound of Music is a perfect evening of family theatre.