Take one of the most loved musicals of all time, throw in a hit Saturday night TV talent show, and the result is box office gold. So does this hotly anticipated production live up to expectations?
The answer is yes and no. Director Jeremy Sams’ somewhat low key staging offers a reasonable amount to satisfy fans of the movie, and many of the familiar set pieces, Do-Re-Mi in particular, are charmingly choreographed by Arlene Phillips. No one in the cast, including How Do You Solve a Problem Like Maria? winner Connie Fisher, gives a really duff performance and designer Robert Jones ably suggests everything from the opulence of the von Trapp home to the serenity of the abbey, even if the mobile mountain set is more clever than effective.
Indeed the right ingredients are there and audiences are bound to lap up the niceness of it all in months to come. But what the production sadly lacks is an emotional depth which draws you in to the lives of those on stage. Sticking in the main to the original stage script is a worthy decision in many respects but the narrative often moves so quickly that it is difficult to believe in the central love affair.
Sweet-voiced Fisher proves she can tackle both the light and serious sides of the lead role but as yet her acting is rather mannered and her star quality limited. A late replacement for the role of Captain von Trapp, Alexander Hanson comes up trumps - when music returns to his home and he embraces each of his children in turn it is the one genuine tear jerking moment of the whole evening.
While Lesley Garrett’s Mother Abbess is a little hard to believe, her rendition of Climb Ev’ry Mountain is something to savour. Mention should also be made of the naturally cute but very talented child performers and some fine choral singing from the ensemble.