Cambridge Arts Theatre, Cambridge – until 25 January 2020
Reviewed by Steph Lott
I wasn’t quite sure what to expect of the production of “The Sound Of Music” by the Cambridge Operatic Society. I, like most people I’m sure, have very fond memories of watching “The Sound of Music” on television or at the cinema, as a family, as a child. It’s iconic and Julie Andrews in particular is a hard act to follow.
I was therefore intrigued as to how it would translate from the silver screen to the stage.
I was not disappointed. I found the whole experience charming and thoroughly enjoyed the performance. It was a sweetly nostalgic evening, with splendid renditions of familiar songs.
I have already used the word “charming” and I may have to use it again or find suitable synonyms for the term! The highlight of the play for me was the Von Trapp children, played in the production I saw, by Team Mountains, consisting of Ekaterina Rah-Bohr, Oliver, Lily, Bruce, Beatrice, Isabel and Amalie. I was completely caught up by their wonderful singing and their chemistry as a family. Simply gorgeous and so endearing to watch. I also want to mention Ursula, played by Alice Barlow, who delivered her comedic part with wonderful timing, causing appreciative chuckles in the audience.
I attended first night and there are some points in the production that do need a little attention. When Maria (Christine Poole) first came on stage she seemed a little static and frozen which completely disappeared however once she was with the children.
There is also some chemistry that doesn’t work, for example between Maria (Christine Poole) and Von Trapp (Matt Gregory). I think the restraint and formality of Von Trapp conceals a deep passion for his family, his country and ultimately for Maria, but it came over as slightly stilted. I’m also not sure of staging which has 2 characters (Maria and Von Trapp) which, when they declare their love for each other, has them facing the audience and not looking at each other. The other incident which made me smile was when Elsa Schraeder (played by Sally Goldsmith) and Von Trapp decided to part company – neither party seemed particularly bothered by the prospect!
I am not surprised that it would be the acting and staging, if anything, that would require a bit of finessing when a musical is presented by an Operatic Society; the singing and the music, however, most certainly did not – it was glorious! Worthy of special mention is of course Christine Poole’s wonderful performance as Maria – she certainly gave Julie Andrews a run for her money! I also loved Caroline Dyson’s depiction of the Mother Abbess and I found the scenes between Maria and the Mother Abbess truly touching.
In summary I would thoroughly recommend seeing this production of “The Sound of Music”. It was charming (there’s that word again!) and funny and I loved hearing all those wonderful songs that I remember so well, sung and played so beautifully. Although it was a stage production it managed to capture the spirit and charm of the film.
And of course there are nuns. Wonderful nuns. Don’t forget those!