Bristol Hippodrome


The Sound Of Music - August 2016

Echoes of past show makes sweet music

This was the second time I have seen The Sound of Music on stage and I have lost count of the number of times I have watched the film starring Julia Andrews but it never loses its charm.

Funnily enough when the film which was a box office smash hit first came out in the mid-1960s I was on holiday in Torquay, Devon, and the queues outside the cinema were huge however it was for families, not trendy young things so aged 16, I boycotted all screenings.

When aged 30-something I finally got to see the film on television and loved it.

On moving to Nailsea in the late 1970s neighbours from The Maples were in a production by Nailsea Musical Comedy Club so whole family went to see it at the Scotch Horn Centre.

I remember the shock when the Nazi stormtroopers ran through the audience wielding pistols and screaming ‘Heil Hitler’.

On Tuesday night at the Bristol Hippodrome my family went to see the latest ‘on tour’ version of The Sound of Music with BBC1’s The Voice runner-up Lucy O’Byrne as Maria, Coronation Street villain Andrew Lancel as Captain Von Trapp, and Canadian soprano Rebecca Caine as Mother Abbess.

But the person we really all came to see was Lucy Van Gasse playing the wealthy and independent Elsa Schraeder.

Lucy grew up in Nailsea and went to Backwell School was making her debut at the city theatre.

The set is exactly the same at the 2015 tour (click HERE to read previous review) with the only changes in the cast.

It opens at Nonnberg Abbey in the office of the Mother Abbess against a background of religious icons depicted in the stained glass windows when two nuns discuss the merits of Maria in a ‘good cop, bad cop’ scenario.

The heartwarming story is based (loosely) on the real life story of the Von Trapp Family singers and set in an era immediately preceding World War 2.

Lucy O’Byrne plays the tomboyish postulant at an Austrian abbey who becomes a governess in the home of a widowed naval captain with seven children and brings a new love of life and music into the home.

Before curtain-up sitting in the Piano Bar I heard a group of women discussing the show and one said she had bought a box of tissues in case she got tearful during the show.

I can only presume wartime memories prompted that remark but during the show which got a standing ovation from an enthusiast crowd another person sitting behind me who whispered continuously throughout was overheard to say ‘it is all very amateur’.

Not so nasty person – it is brilliant.

The singing, the acting, the stage presence of the performers are all first rate – we loved it – and our accompanying eight and 12-year-old grandchildren loved it too.

The operatic voices mixed with silly songs about goatherds – what’s not to like especially when the Mother Abbess climbed the musical scale with Climb E’vry Mountain at the end of the first act.

The small children were great – loved the trembling child in the thunderstorm scene although the bed didn’t dip and looked most uncomfortable and the image of them standing straight in a row with staggered heights wasn't quite right.

Lucy van Gasse who wears form-fitting silk suits and stilettoes is gorgeous as the sophisticated Elsa Schraeder who gets usurped in the affections of the Captain by Maria

The dance scene between Liesl played by Annie Holland – one time bass guitarist for the Britpop band Elastica – and her teen crush Kane Verrall as telegraph boy Rolf Gruber went from ballroom to ballet with ease.

Some of the costumes and accents seemed a little misplaced especially Andrew Lancel’s regalia but his acting versitily amazed us - best looking naval 'capitane' I have seen.

And can someone help out as I had difficulty explaining to the primary-aged granddaughter what exactly a ‘nun’ is or does but none of that spoilt our enjoyment.

The nationalistic words of Edelweiss embody Austrian patriotism in the face of the looming prospect of war and it is the music which conveys the feelings of foreboding.

If you haven’t seen the stage show and even if you have I recommend this production – plays Bristol until Saturday, September 3, at 7:30pm each evening with two matinee showings at 2:30pm on Thursday and Saturday.
For tickets click HERE.

Carol Deacon

Sound of singing at Bristol Hippodrome


PREVIEW: A Backwell School student who grew up in Nailsea has a leading role in the Sound of Music which opens on Tuesday, August 30, at the Bristol Hippodrome.

Stage star Lucy Van Gasse who still has family living in Nailsea and Congresbury plays Baroness Elsa Schraeder in the timeless classic.

Bristol Hippodrome Sarah Milne said: "Lucy's first experiences of theatre were at the Hippodrome and it’s also the first time she will be performing here which is rather lovely."

The classically trained soprano music graduate began her career with baby ballet lesson locally.

And aged 17 she played the lead role of' Dido in Dido & Aeneas at the prestigious St George's venue at Bristol.

Lucy made her debut in the West End in Andrew Lloyd Webber's Love Never Dies as the understudy for the leading role of Christine Daaé.

She has also performed in the hit musical Wicked as Glinda at the Apollo Theatre in London and as lead soprano on the UK tour of Putting On The Ritz.
Lucy continues to perform as a soloist and at classical crossover events with Amici Forever.

Last year she returned to her hometown to lead a Wicked workshop for Tillie’s School of Performing Arts at Nailsea and other local gigs include singing with her band at the Celebration Women – Long Table Lunch organised by Penny Brohn Cancer Care charity based at Pill.

The show also stars The Voice runner-up Lucy O'Byrne as Maria and Coronation Street's Andrew Lancel as Captain Von Trapp.
Lucy O'Bryne became a household name when she shot to success in the TV talent show.

With chart-topper as her mentor, and biggest fan, she made history as the first classical singer to reach the final, impressing the nation with her stunning vocal range.

Now, having recently performed at the BBC Proms, she makes her musical debut as the young postulant, Maria.

Her first album, Debut, was released earlier this year.

Andrew is best known as super-villain Frank Foster in Coronation Street, a role that earned him a 'villain of the year' award at the British Soap Awards.

He also played DI Neil Manson in the long-running ITV television series The Bill.

His numerous stage credits include Bill Kenwright’s touring productions of The Small Hand and Twelve Angry Men. Andrew starred in Epstein: The Man Who Made The Beatles in Liverpool and London, and most recently appeared on stage in The Damned United at the West Yorkshire Playhouse.

This wonderfully lavish staging of the classic musical is produced by Bill Kenwright, directed by Martin Connor, choreographed by Olivier Award winner Bill Deamer with musical direction by David Steadman.

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 the two Lucys and Andrew on stage are Jan Hartley (Mother Abbess), Duncan Smith (Max), Kane Verrall (Rolf), Annie Horn (Liesl), Alexander Evans (Herr Zeller) Zoe Ann Brown (Sister Margaretta), Kate Scott (Sister Berthe), Tammy Davies (Sister Sophia), Jude Neill (Ursula), Anouska Eaton (Baroness Elberfeld), Jon de Ville (Franz), Pippa Winslow (Frau Schmidt), Scott Ainslie (Admiral von Schreiber), Piers Bate (Baron Elberfeld) and Lewis Barnshaw.

PHOTOS: Top The Sound of Music UK Tour with Gray O'Brien from previous cast as Captain Von Trapp and

Lucy O'Byrne as Maria © Mark Yeoman and right Lucy Van Gasse the Nailsea girl made good