Grand Theatre, Leeds – 21 July 2015
Raindrops on Roses and Whiskers on Kittens, as the saying goes, are favourite things. Well my favourite things are well acted performances and well sung musicals and The Sound of Music certainly managed this.
This latest offering in what appears to be a Kenwright season at the Grand is maybe the best show so far. This glorious new production, directed by Martin Connor, hasn’t cut any corners for this tour. Clever set design and scene changes transported us to an Alpine haven where, at least in the beginning, life was untouched by the Nazi menace threatening Europe at the time
‘But how did they solve the problem of Maria?’ I hear you cry. Well, in Danielle Hope they have a courageous postulant nun, struggling tunefully with her conscience over whether to follow the God or Captain Von Trapp. Anyone who thinks reality TV shows aimed at finding stars of the future are a nonsense would certainly reconsider after seeing Hope exercise her amazing vocal range in this production. Her victory in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Over The Rainbow was just the start of this wonderfully talented actress.
Local boy, Steven Houghton takes on the role of Captain Von Trapp. A handsome, aloof disciplinarian, whose barriers are broken down by his encounter with Maria and by music. There is a real spark between Maria and the Captain that helps take the story beyond the sugar coating that most people associate with The Sound of Music.
And as for those children, they are superb, once more the heart and soul of this most tireless of musicals. Grace Chapman as oldest child Liesl was convincing in her role as the big sister of the brood, genuinely seeming to care for the little ones in her charge. And the many other children who play the Von Trapps are outstandingly talented for ones so young
There are moments of sorrow, joy and some genuine humour but its the singing that powers this show. The rhapsodic nuns in The Sound Of Music are lead by Jan Hartley as the Mother Abbess. Hartley’s Abbess is one of the best I’ve seen and her Climb Every Mountain was as uplifting and inspirational as you could hope for. Closing both first and second half of the show. The end of the first was a truly breathtaking performance but the end of the second, as the family escaped over the Mountains into Switzerland, brought tears to the eyes.
The Sound of Music is a musical that transcends all ages and the audience at the Grand reflected that, from children right through to the elderly. It may not be edgy or modern, but watching The Sound of Music is like slipping on a comfortable pair of slippers and indulging in one of your favourite things
At Leeds Grand until Saturday 1st August 2015