I guess you could say the ChurcHILL was “alive with the sound of music” on Tuesday night. This was the opening night of Bill Kenwright’s new 2018 UK touring production. Before a note of Rogers and Hammerstein’s famous score was played, the dramatic alpine landscape on the front curtain transported you away from Bromley to the Austrian mountains.
Lucy O’Byrne (Les Misérables) was charming as Maria. She sang the role with much gusto and grace. The Captain, portrayed by Neil McDermott (Wind in the Willows, EastEnders), was a suitably distant aloof military figure during the first act. He later transformed into the adoring father and passionate Austrian in the second act when the Third Reich had an increasing presence in the story. Megan Llewellyn showed versatility as the wise, yet playful Mother Abyss wondering what to do with her problematic postulant.
The other dynamic duo to note were Kara Lane and Howard Samuels who were our Baroness Schraeder and Uncle Max respectively for the evening. The two of them created many moments of laughter for the audience and shone vocally in their characters’ two clever comedic numbers, “How Can Love Survive?” and “No Way To Stop It”, which were both sadly cut from the 1965 film.
The younger cast must be mentioned of course. I heard many sighs when little Gretl had her moments and the group moved and sang together with military precision. The simple choreography for “So Long Farewell” could have potentially been more complex than just marching and bowing given what young actors have generally proven they are capable of in recent new shows such as School of Rock and Matilda but the Von Trapps are well known for their marching.
The odd moment was lost due to an imbalance between the orchestra and vocal levels in the auditorium – Mother Abyss’ powerful soprano was practically drowned out by the entry of the organ at the climax of “Climb Every Mountain” which was a real shame. However, the pit ensemble led by Anthony Gabriele got their own moments to dazzle, particularly during Liesl and Rolf’s impressive dance break during “Sixteen going on Seventeen” and the “Grand Waltz” at the Captain’s dinner party.
I left the theatre with a smile on my face, ready to take on the world and climb some mountains. This new stage production has all the classic well-known numbers and is an enjoyable production for young and old.
Review by Fiona Scott
One of the greatest musicals of all time returns to the stage in this magnificent five-star production to enchant the young and the young at heart. This wonderfully lavish staging tells the true story of the world-famous singing family, from their romantic beginnings and search for happiness, to their thrilling escape to freedom at the start of WWll.
Lucy O’Byrne returns to the iconic role of Maria in which she was hailed by critics as ‘Quite possibly the best Maria since Julie Andrews herself’ (The Scotsman). Lucy was the runner-up of BBC One’s The Voice in 2015, impressing the nation and chart-topper Will.I.Am with her stunning vocal range, and was recently seen in the West End as Fantine in Les Misérables.
Joining as the dashing Captain Von Trapp is TV and stage favourite Neil McDermott, whose characters include playing heartthrob Ryan Malloy in EastEnders, as well as featuring in numerous West End productions such as Shrek The Musical where he played Lord Farquaad.
The unforgettable score features some of the most memorable songs ever performed on stage, including Edelweiss, My Favorite Things, Do-Re-Mi, Climb Ev’ry Mountain, So Long Farewell, and of course, The Sound of Music.
The Sound of Music plays the Bromley Churchill Theatre from Tuesday 9th – Saturday 12th January 2018 before moving on to Birmingham and other UK cities.
The Sound of Music
16th – 20th January 2018
New Alexandra Theatre, Birmingham
23rd – 27th January 2018
King’s Theatre, Glasgow
20th – 24th February 2018
13th – 17th March 2018
Palace Theatre, Manchester