Bristol Hippodrome

 

Sound of Music - June 2015

 

Meeting girl called Maria

 

 

A sugar-coated Sound of Music opened at the Bristol Hippodrome this week.

So what’s not to like because the show receive mountainous plaudits on opening night?

This sweetened production of the hit musical does lack some of the more dramatic moments of previous shows and the saccharin coated 1960s film starring Julie Andrews but it is easy on the ear.

The musical based on the (almost) true story of the family von Trapp and their wartime escape from an annexed Austria aided by their dulcet ability and nuns living in a nearby convent.

And while the memorable songs can still give you goose bumps there isn’t much military marching so the sense of foreboding is lost along with the goose steps.

Most of us had come along to watch television talent contest winner Danielle Hope as Maria but she pulled out due to illness and her understudy Jessica Daley took the part on Tuesday evening.

Interesting enough Jessica was also a contestant in Over the Rainbow, the BBC talent-search looking for an actress/singer to play Dorothy Gale in Andrew Lloyd Webber's production of The Wizard of Oz.

But she lost out to Danielle in the sixth week sing-off!

I loved Jessica in the part and although a bit ‘goody-two-shoes’ that is how this story runs.

The opening scene is set at Nonnberg Abbey with is rows of dusty tomes going up to the Gods and adding colour to the impending gloom of war is the religious stained glass windows.

Operatic actress Jan Hartley is superior at the Mother Abbess and ably supported by her ‘murmur’ (looked up that appropriate collective noun) of nuns – loved the tears in the wedding scene.

Howard Samuels and Sarah Soetaert are some of the best Elsa Schrader and Max Detweiler portrayals I have seen but as usual the real scene stealers are the children.

Sixteen going on 17 Liesl is played by a girl with a great singing range - Grace Chapman - who is a little older than the Austrian teenager she plays.

Grace and budding love interest Luke George as telegraph boy Rolf Gruber dance beautifully although not in the gazebo and when the family hid in the cloisters I was sure it was Rolf who blows a whistle to alert the storm troopers?

It is always the cute smallest child you remember but the symmetry of the bowing boys, the girls with pigtails, the all-seeing girl who spills the beans about love and the one with a lisp all made a big impression.

There were some swish costume changes from leather lederhosen, playsuits made from recycled curtains to navy nautical dresses with sailor collars for the children.

In contrast the adults got to sport either sophisticated cocktail clothes or officer class uniforms while poor Maria only got to swap her drab habit thanks to a pretty blue dress donation by a fellow postulant.

Soap star Steven Houghton plays the widowed nationalist Captain von Trapp a naval man with a passion for his native Austria and distinct dislike for the Third Reich.

A more Germanic accent may have helped instead of his upper class English vowels but I warmed to him as the performance developed.

When Nailsea Musicals put on this show many moons ago we all jumped out of our skins when the Nazi soldiers ran thought the audience firing their pistols.

There were no surprises at the Hippodrome – few feeble searchlights turned on the stalls – I wanted more jump out of your skin moments.

Produced by Bill Kenwright, directed by Martin Connor, choreographed by Olivier Award winner Bill Deamer, musical direction by David Steadman, this new staging coincides with the 50th anniversary of the film version - the most successful movie musical in history.

The story of the Trapp Family Singers and Baroness Maria von Trapp’s 1949 autobiography inspired Richard Rodgers, Oscar Hammerstein II, Howard Lindsay and Russel Crouse to create a Broadway musical in 1959.

The unforgettable score features some of the most memorable songs ever performed on stage, including Edelweiss, My Favorite Things, Do-Re-Mi, Climb Ev’ry Mountain, So Long, Farewell and of course, the title song, The Sound of Music.

Five years ago is was Connie Fisher, winner of the BBC TV programme How Do You Solve a Problem Like Maria?, as Maria, alongside Michael Praed as the dashing but stiff-upper-lipped Captain Von Trapp.

It was difficult to compare the two shows without seeing Danielle in the lead role but it is a wholesome and comfortable musical which could have been a bit more edgy.

It feels like the iconic story is as old as the hills but the younger people who accompanied me showed a distinct lack of knowledge of World War II politics or history while the children in front fidgeted throughout the first half before they were removed.

And did I mention the person who was caught clandestinely filming the show earning a severe reprimand?

The Hippodrome will be alive with the sound of music until Saturday, July 4.

Carol Deacon

Sound of Music

 

PREVIEW: One of the greatest musicals of all time is coming to the Bristol Hippodrome for two weeks this summer.

A magnificent touring production of The Sound of Music plays from Monday to Saturday, June 22-July 4.

Playing the iconic role of Maria von Trapp is Danielle Hope who captured the hearts of the country when she won BBC television’s Over the Rainbow and made her professional debut as Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz at the London Palladium.

Danielle has since played Eponine in Les Misérables in London’s West End and Narrator in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.

Joining the company as Captain von Trapp is much-loved stage and television star Steven Houghton best known for his longstanding television roles in Coronation Street and London’s Burning,.

The Olivier award nominated actor has also taken on leading roles in Spend Spend Spend, Blood Brothers, White Christmas, Martin Guerre and Grease.

Produced by Bill Kenwright, directed by Martin Connor, choreographed by Olivier Award winner Bill Deamer, musical direction by David Steadman, this wonderfully lavish new staging of the classic musical coincides with the 50th anniversary of the film version - the most successful movie musical in history.

It all began with the story of the Trapp Family Singers and Baroness Maria von Trapp’s 1949 autobiography, which inspired Richard Rodgers, Oscar Hammerstein II, Howard Lindsay and Russel Crouse to create a Broadway musical in 1959.

The Sound of Music tells the true story of the world-famous singing family, from their romantic beginnings and search for happiness, to their thrilling escape to freedom as their beloved Austria becomes part of the Third Reich at the start of WWII.

The unforgettable score features some of the most memorable songs ever performed on stage, including Edelweiss, My Favorite Things, Do-Re-Mi, Climb Ev’ry Mountain, So Long, Farewell and of course, the title song, The Sound of Music.

Joining Danielle and Steven are West End stars Jan Hartley (Phantom of the Opera and West Side Story) and Sarah Soetaert (Chicago) who will play the Mother Abbess and Baroness Elsa Schrader, respectively, with Howard Samuels as Max, Grace Chapman as Liesl, Luke George as Rolf, Kate Milner Evans as Frau Schmidt and Martin Dickinson as Admiral Von Schreiber.

Completing the cast are Madeline Banbury, Lewis Barnshaw, Ellie Botterill, Zoe Ann Bown, Colin Burnicle, Elana Cerversi, Grace Chapman, Jessica Daley, Philip Day, Lynden Edwards, Cole Emsley, Grace Gardner, Libby Griffiths, Lewis Jamieson, William Keeler, Noah Key, Zach Loizou, Mia Long, Ava Merson-O’Brien, Isabelle Methven, Tilly Murray, Zaiya Omamon, Katie Shearman, Isabella Taylor, Joshua Warden, Liberty Wilson and Hanna Zienkiewicz.

Bill Kenwright presents a new production of The Sound of Music.

For further information and ticket bookings click HERE.