3rd December 2014
The Sound of Music
Reviewed by Trevor Locke and Jonathan Jones.
Curve’s production of Rodger’s and Hammerstein’s classic musical is on now, from Friday 28th November to Saturday 17th January.
ArtsIn was there to see the show and we thought it was marvellous.
Music by Richard Rodgers, lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II, Book by Howard Lindsay and Russel Crouse, suggested by The Trapp Family Singers by Maria Augusta Trapp.
Director: Paul Kerryson, Choreographer Drew McOnie, Musical Director Ben Atkinson, Set Designer Al Parkinson, Costume Designer Takis.
The story behind The Sound Of Music is a true one. There really was a Trapp family; the matriarch of the family was Maria Augusta von Trapp (1905 – 1987), they lived in Austria at the time of the Nazi invasion.
The book, from which the musical was devised, fictionalises several facts about the family and what they did, although the core of the story remains roughly the same. In the musical, Maria leaves the Abbey to become the governess to a wealthy Salzburg family with seven children. Maria falls in love with the children and teaches them to sing. Father of the family, Captain Georg von Trapp falls in love with Maria. They marry. In 1938 the German Third Reich annexed Austria and the family is forced to flee their homeland to escape the Nazis. In the storyline of the musical, the Trapp family forms a singing group that performs at a music festival in Salzburg. They escape the Nazis by crossing the mountains into Switzerland.
Perhaps I had a wicked childhood,
Perhaps I had a miserable youth,
But somewhere in my wicked,
There must have been a moment of truth
When the film version of the musical was released in 1965 I was 14 going on 15 and went to see the film when it first came out in the UK. I was totally entranced by it. It spoke to me. I imagine that many of those in tonight’s audience could tell similar stories. We know that some people have gone to see the film dozens of times. Tonight was the first time that I had seen the musical in a live production. We have seen several productions of musicals at Curve, such as The Water Babies and The King and I.
Director Paul Kerryson has caught all the feeling and flavour of the show and made it work on stage as much as it works in the film. This was Kerryson’s last music production as Artistic Director Curve, before Nokolai Foster takes over.
Certain things stood out in this production, the singing from the lead roles – Maria (Laura Pitt-Pulford), Mother Abbess (Lucy Schaufer) and the seven children. The singing, the dancing, the live band playing for two hours and twenty minutes – it all added up to a superbly enjoyable show. The audience enjoyed this production and there is no doubt that many of them will see it more than once.
There was little to detract from the production – apart from Al Parkinson’s set design which we thought was a bit clunky and various aspects of which failed to work, such as the depiction of the Von Trapp’s villa, which was far from convincing. Having said that, the scenes in the Abbey worked well and the wedding scene was imposing.
The show had some stand-out moments: particularly the singing by Lucy Schaufer (as the Mother Abbess) and Laura Pitt-Pulford‘s singing and acting (as Maria Rainer.) She caught the role beautifully, and the children (drawn from Curve’s community company) gave a suitably entrancing performing, both in singing and dancing. Michael French (as Captain von Trapp) put in a creditable performance (despite being a tad wooden at times.)
The Sound of Music provides top-class entertainment for Christmas and nothing could be better than taking the family out to see a live show – the perfect antidote to TV’s rather insipid programming this year.
It’s a fine production, a hugely good story and hearing those highly memorable songs once more adds up to a not-to-be-missed piece of live theatre.
Details of the show and bookings from Curve website
See our What’s on page for the introductory notes on this show
From our archives we have re-published our reviews of The Water Babies (musical) and Abigail’s Party (the play by Mike Leigh.)