Review: Forum comes alive to The Sound of Music
“Well, that was a treat,” said a woman leaving the opening night of The Sound of Music at the Millennium Forum on Tuesday evening. “A real treat.”
There weren’t many in a packed house who will have disagreed with her.
The words and music of Rodgers and Hammerstein have a timeless quality and it’s not difficult to imagine audiences still flocking to this most famous of musicals in 50, 60 or 100 years time.
The success of any production of the Sound of Music rests with the quality of the cast and Emilie Fleming as Maria, Andrew Lancel as Captain Von Trapp and Megan Llewellyn as Mother Abbess were all on top form.
But the stars of the show have to be the Von Trapp children and the young cast were simply wonderful.
In particular, Nicole Farrar carries off the important role of Liesl with aplomb.
The songs of The Sound of Music are so familiar, it is easy to take them for granted. But, brought to fresh life with live orchestral accompaniment, is a thrilling experience, not least Llewellyn stealing more than a little of Maria’s thunder with a stirring rendition of Climb Every Mountain to end the first act quite literally on a high note.
And Howard Samuels provides the comic relief in his role as family friend Max with a well-judged turn.
Legendary television and theatre producer Bill Kenwright knows enough about his business to leave what works alone and provides a no-nonsense approach to the show - letting the music take centre stage.
So familiar are those songs - Edelweiss, My Favourite Things, Do-Re-Mi and The Sound of Music, not to mention the Julie Andrews film version we all grew up with, it is easy to forget the original show was based on the autobiography of Baroness Maria Von Trapp and the very real peril of Nazi Germany that they escaped in 1938.
It is still a shock to the system to see how potent the Nazi swastika remains as a symbol when it appears as the backdrop to the concert as the family prepare to make their escape over the Alps to Switzerland from their Austrian home.
It may be one of the most famous film musicals ever made, but The Sound of Music was made to be performed on the stage just as it has been perfectly here.
The Sound of Music continues at the Millennium Forum until Saturday.