Review: Stage show recaptures the magic of the Sound of Music
I challenge anyone to dislike The Sound of Music - the classic re-telling of the story of the Trapp Family Singers set against the rise of the Nazis in 1930s Austria.
New Wimbledon Theatre is running a stage version of the show, which coincides with the 50th anniversary of the famous film, until April 11.
Playing the iconic role of Maria von Trapp is Danielle Hope, who won BBC TV's 'Over the Rainbow' and made her professional debut as Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz at the London Palladium.
Like the rest of the cast she gives an accomplished performance in the role made famous by Julie Andrews. But the show doesn't have the total 'wow' factor that might have encouraged me to sing-a-long.
The stand-out performer was Jan Hartley, as the Mother Abbess. Her rendition of 'Climb Every Mountain' was the most moving part of the evening.
Otherwise the show was - as with the film - eminently likeable. The young actors playing the part of the seven Van Trapp children were well-drilled in their marching routines, charming the audience as they fell in love with Maria, their new governess.
Their father, Captain von Trapp, was played on Wednesday by Lynden Edwards. The role is normally taken by Steven Houghton, who is well-known for his television roles in Coronation Street and London’s Burning as well as leading roles in Spend Spend Spend, Blood Brothers, White Christmas, Martin Guerre and Grease.
The Sound of Music tells the true story of the singing family, from their romantic beginnings and search for happiness, to their escape to freedom as Austria becomes part of the Third Reich at the start of WWII.
The songs - including Edelweiss, My Favorite Things, Do-Re-Mi, Climb Ev’ry Mountain, So Long, Farewell and the title song, The Sound of Music - feel like part of the tapestry of 20th century life, and it was certainly uplifting to hear them again.
Lynden Edwards' heartfelt version of Edelweiss effectively highlighted his character's Austrian pride - making his agony clear before he fled to neutral Switzerland with his family.
Howard Samuels as concert organiser Max Detweiler added a few comic touches to the story, with this performance having more humorous moments than the film, helping everyone leave with a smile on their face.
By Sue Choularton
April 1, 2015