Last night saw the opening night of The Sound of Music at the Grand Theatre and the Yorkshire hills were alive with the sound of a standing ovation.
Having recently run at the London Palladium, the West End experience is brought straight to Yorkshire’s doorstep. Starring Jason Donovan as Captain Von Trapp and Verity Rushworth as Maria, the production often follows the academy award winning 1965 film to the letter. At the same time however, it is given its own stamp, with the tense backdrop of Nazi occupied Austria given more precedence
The sets (designed by Robert Jones) were awesome (in the true sense of the word) and the set changes were seamlessly executed, adding to the performance overall. The audience is treated to no expenses spared grandeur of the VonTrapp home, authentic mountain scenes and an impressive abbey. The casting, too, is a success. Verity Rushworth captures Maria’s charm and naivety perfectly and the comic delivery in her acting brings truly touching and humorous moments. All of the children performed excellently, their professionalism and talent really exceptional at such young ages. Without doubt, Mother Abbess (played by Marilyn Hill Smith) was my favourite performance and I am not embarrassed to admit that her bolstering rendition of Climb Every Mountain gave me goosebumps. Though I am embarrassed to admit that had I not been in a room full of strangers, I probably would have wept with joy into my lederhosen.
I was, however, underwhelmed by Jason Donovan. He lacked the physical presence required to play a brooding Captain Von Trapp and he seemed to overcompensate through overacting. His rendition of Edelweiss was flat – unfortunately obvious due to him singing the melody alongside of a perfectly in tune violin. Against the rest of the casts pitch perfect singing and believable acting, his performance failed to hit the mark.
Fortunately, this did not affect my overall enjoyment of the production and I would absolutely recommend anybody to go and see it. It is not an easy task to recreate a musical so surpassing, though this production was not only extremely enjoyable but an excellent example musical theatre overall.
The Sound of Music is playing at the Leeds Grand 07 June 2011 – 25 June 2011 – Monday Evenings 7.00pm, Tuesday – Saturday Evenings 7.30pm, Wednesday and Saturday Matinees 2.30pm – Box Office – 0844 848 2706
Kirsty Hulse – find her on twitter here