MARIA and her problems have been exercising the Mother Abbess for more than half-a-century and now she’s back again as The Sound of Music settles into its three-week run at Nottingham’s Theatre Royal.
The touring version comes direct from Andrew Lloyd Webber’s recent London Palladium offering, which removed any doubts that the story of the von Trapp family’s musical success and flight across the mountains as their beloved Austria is absorbed into Hitler’s Third Reich may have grown old hat.
Sentimental it may be, but it remains a fine, heart-warming tale, a splendid, lavish and colourful spectacular which delighted a Saturday night audience comprising a cross-section of young people alongside veteran theatregoers.
The show can be described as a triumph for Verity Rushworth, who has replaced Connie Fisher as Maria. Ditching Marlon from her previous life as Emmerdale’s Donna Windsor for Captain Georg von Trapp and his villa near Salzburg is really a no-brainer, even with seven kids in tow.
But those acting skills, honed alongside Zac Dingle and his clan, stand her in good stead. She brings vivacity and sparkle to the part and her lovely singing voice is an excellent vehicle for the superb Rodgers and Hammerstein score. She fully deserved the spontaneous standing ovation which greeted her curtain call.
Marilyn Hill Smith as the Mother Abbess provided another show-stopping moment with Climb Ev’ry Mountain and Keiron Crook as von Trapp also does well as he unbends from the first-half disciplinarian to the romantic idealist of the second. And there are fine performances from Martin Callaghan as Max Detweiler, Chris Barton (Rolf) and Claire Fishenden (Lisa).
The production is directed by Jeremy Sams with choreography by Arlene Phillips.
Seamless changes of scenery are another outstanding feature, with the action moving effortlessly from the abbey to the von Trapp villa and, of course, those mountains.
You can almost taste the apple strudel – now where did we put those lakes and mountains brochures?