Reviewed by Joanne Hughes
One of my most treasured childhood memories is of passing a wondrous few hours with my mum, dancing around the room and singing at the top of our voices to the well-known songs of the 1965 film Sound of Music. Thus, I was very excited to be going to see the acclaimed Bill Kenwright’s current production of the famous Rodgers and Hammerstein musical from which the film was created, particularly as I would be taking my young son and so re-creating such wondrous memories for him too.
I’d not been to the Kings Theatre in Portsmouth before and was very impressed. This beautiful heritage building is tardis-like in its appearance, from a small facade on the corner of the street, opening out to a stunning Edwardian interior, with a gorgeously decorated auditorium, in particular the fresco ceiling. Whilst the furnishings are somewhat tired, this does not detract from the overall ambience of this delightful venue. Be aware there is no specific theatre car park, however parking on the street is readily available.
From the opening scene, you are transported back to 1930’s Austria. The show follows the true story of Maria, a problematic postulant nun, who is sent, by the Mother Superior, to be the governess to the seven Von Trapp children so she can discover if a life outside the abbey would be more suitable. Romance flourishes between Maria and the distant, aloof naval patriarch who transforms into an adoring loveable father. The story culminates in the family’s thrilling escape to freedom from the Third Reich from right underneath their noses. It is easy to see how Lucy O’Bryne (The Voice runner up 2015) earned the accolade of being “quite possibly the best Maria since Julie Andrews herself” (The Scotsman) as her beautiful singing voice carried all the nuances required for this sensitive character. Neil McDermott (EastEnders) added his own touch to the Captain’s role, a role that Christopher Plummer in the film version made such tough act to follow (I’m still smitten with him every time I watch the film!).
The other shining stars of the show were the von Trapp children whose movements and voices were in perfect harmony; the duet and dance of Liesl and Rolf to the song of ‘Sixteen Going on Seventeen’ was truly wonderful, and resurrected memories of young love. Megan Llewellyn astounds as the Mother Abbess, and her powerful voice fills the auditorium as she performs ‘Climb Ev’ry Mountain’ – during the finale she gets one of the biggest cheers of the night. All the memorable songs, including Edelweiss, My Favourite Things, Do-Re-Mi, So Long Farewell, The Long Goatherd, and of course The Sound of Music are covered, together with two songs not featured in the film. These two songs, How Can Love Survive? and No Way To Stop It, are sung by the Captain’s love interest Baroness Schraeder, and his best friend Uncle Max, and bring a softer and amusing element to their characters.
The stunning set seamlessly moves from the tall pillars of the abbey to the spiral staircase of the von Trapp’s home all set against the backdrop of the famous snow-covered mountains. The music itself was truly amazing, and the fantastic orchestra was even able to recreate the acoustics of the abbey using technical wizardry – brilliant. The costumes were nothing short of fabulous, from the children’s’ naval uniforms, the ‘curtain’ outfits, to the beautiful ball-gowns, you truly felt you were back in that era.
The performance had the audience clapping and singing along and received a standing ovation during curtain call – I even had tears in my eyes, and my son had a beaming smile on his face – evidence that this production is something rather wonderful for all ages – the theatre was genuinely alive with The Sound of Music at the end of this show.
Not to be missed!
The Sound of Music is at the Kings Theatre in Portsmouth from 6-10 March 2018, for more information or to book tickets click visit kingsportsmouth.co.uk or call the box office on 023 9282 8282.
The Kings Theatre, Albert Road, Southsea, Portsmouth, Hants, PO5 2QJ | 023 9282 8282