Christchurch is alive with the sound of music! This year, Bournemouth Musical Theatre have turned their attention to one of the nation’s most loved musicals, The Sound of Music. Set during Nazi Germany’s acquisition of Austria in 1938, the show tells the story of the free-spirited Maria who is sent to look after the Von Trapp children whilst she considers whether she wants to become a nun.
So how do you solve the problem of bringing Maria’s story to life? Director David Sandham’s answer is evident to see: with plenty of enthusiasm, fun choreography, colourful characterisation and a unique set. Like most amateur groups, it was clear that each individual, whether cast, creative team, costume, front of house and so on, has a passion for the stage as all have come together to create a seamless performance, guaranteed to evoke nostalgia for the 1965 film starring Julie Andrews.
In this principle role, Amy McIntosh excels; her classical vocal training shining through with each lyric perfectly dictated. Amy’s range and characterisation are almost comparable to Julie Andrew’s seminal performance, particularly in the titular song. Vocally, she is matched by Jenny Corbin as Mother Abbess, who demonstrates you do not need a big chorus to close act one, but a powerfully performed song. I noticed the lady next to me was very emotional after Jenny’s rendition of ‘Climb Ev’ry Mountain’.
As the other initial ‘authoritative’ figure in Maria’s life, Alex Cook as Captain Von Trapp perfectly characterises an emotionally broken man whilst never losing the Captain’s commanding nature; the guitar playing was an added bonus! The young actors playing the Von Trapp children on my night had the audience onside from the beginning, each having their own unique character perfected, with plenty of giggles and “awws” directed at the youngest cast member Lexi Shakespeare as Gretl. At the other end of the age bracket, Hannah Bushnell as Leisl gives a lovely performance of ‘Sixteen Going On Seventeen’, alongside equally accomplished Duncan Reid as Rolf, showing off a beautifully and almost magically choreographed routine. The creative team have certainly given the younger actors the tools needed to succeed and I’m sure the other team of children will be just as confident.
Lisa Stead as the wealthy Frau Elsa Schraeder offers a nice contrast to Amy’s lower-class Maria, expertly carrying off the mannerisms of the upper-class. Meanwhile, in the role of Max Detweiler, Ian Metcalfe adds a great deal of comedy to proceedings.
All supporting roles and ensemble maintained the high standard. I particularly enjoyed the nun’s chorus and could easily pick out the alto harmony – something not always easily accomplished! I’m not sure the backing track vocals were really needed at the beginning, though they did give an impression of a thriving abbey. Similarly, the unique staging and projection allowed a flawless portrayal of location without the use of bulky scenery, bar a static staircase running the middle of the stage. However, this was navigated by cast members with ease and had the added bonus of ensuring all action took place downstage and close to the audience, giving the cast no room to hide (not that they needed it). Having the cast close to us also worked in their favour when a couple a mic glitches occurred (seldom avoided on opening nights).
Overall, Bournemouth Musical Theatre’s Sound of Music is a triumph and could most definitely be added to my list of ‘Favourite Things’. The production is guaranteed to be enjoyed by all ages and includes all of the most-loved songs, an emotionally-charged plot and visually captivating staging. Plus, if you fancy yourself a singer, why not go along to one of their sing-a-long shows on the Friday evening or Saturday matinee? Further performances at the Regent Centre, matinees and evenings Thursday 30 May – Saturday 1 June. Tickets £18.50, concessions £16.50.