A Nostalgic, Delightful Presentation for Total Enjoyment
By Louw Mulder
The Teatro came alive, with the Sound of Music, when this musical opened at Montecasino last week. This run comes after what is believed to have been a hugely successful World Tour, forcing audiences onto their feet in Manila, Singapore, Macau and Colombo. Now, in Johannesburg, the stage production of the World’s most loved musical, is Climbing Every Mountain…
One thing about The Sound of Music, that will guarantee its success time and time again, is just that… The Sound of the Music. In my opinion, all these songs which are well-known theatre Anthems in their own right, are the essence of this musical, more than the story itself. Just as the numerous times I’ve Seen Sound of Music before, it was the music, and the songs with the ability to get stuck in your head for days after leaving the theatre, that emphasize the nostalgic, delightful production Sound of Music is.
We all know these well-known stage classics as composed by Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein, which include the catchy Do-Re-Mi, the popular Sixteen Going On Seventeen, the powerful Climb Ev’ry Mountain, as well as The Hills Are Alive catchphrase, in the title song. As would be an unequivocally necessity in the delivery of the Sound of these iconic tunes, I thought the orchestra was world-class, doing justice, with musical integrity, to each bar and key-change in the score. Well done to Musical Director Keving Kraak, who took this task under his baton, and succeeded with flying crescendos.
The traditional set and sceneries were once again an impressive sight to accentuate on the Sound of Music experience, but this is what you can come to expect from a production by The Really Useful Group, with Andrew Lloyd Webber and David Ian. Although very large in scale, the set is simple and minimalistic, leaving enough to the imagination, without the over excessive detail, that can easily destruct the audience’s attention.
What really impressed me, was Mick Potter’s Sound Design, and the execution thereof. The audience’s ability towards sound localization are perfected with the multiple audio channel sound system in the Teatro, which proved again to be World Class. This was laudably evident, with the manifestation of the multi-dimensional sounds of the thunderstorms in act one, and the church bells of the Abbey in the opening scene, as examples. From my point of view, together with all the theatre elements that galvanised appreciation towards what is unfolding on stage, the production value of Sound of Music deserves every standing ovation it got during their global stint.
Now, with the Sound of Music easily capable of connecting to the child in us all, it is most appropriate to mention the minor masters on stage. Although I only got the chance to witness one of the three sets of these mini-actors, I can defiantly attest to the professional and expert coaching they received from The Musical Theatre Workshop’s Anton Luitingh and Duane Alexander. These kids were a treat to watch and I believe that they can each be exceptionally proud of their performances. My opinion of all these kids’ roles, were justified throughout the performance, with adorable cheers, chats of cuteness, and also appreciative applause from the theatregoers around me on the night. They are worth seeing…
The adults in the cast include names, well-established in the South African Theatre scene. Andre Schwartz, who joined this team only recently for the South African leg of its tour, and Carmen Pretorius were cast in the leads. I thought that Pretorius makes an excellent Maria, with her acting, singing and demeanour portraying an authentic, and caring Governess with the necessary empathy elements of a nanny. I however thought that the vocal-wobble and the overacting of the technique known as the Sprechgesang, could have been the one element impeding Pretorius from giving the perfect performance. That said, I thought the visible chemistry between Pretorius and the kids was exceptional, and truly proficient.
Notable theatre veterans that form part of this strong cast include, Rika Sennett, admittedly one of my all-time favourite actresses, alongside Malcolm Terrey and Jonathan Taylor, to mention only three. But steadfast fans of Sound of Music will appreciate the underlying love theme between Rolf and Liesl. Michael McMeeking plays the role of the young delivery boy while Zoë Beavon stars in the role of the eldest Von Trapp. Both McMeeking and Beavon have all the rudiments necessary for their story to be told, but I thought that even though Beavon was superb in her acting and singing, her physical height was at times a little destructing, especially within the scenes where she was part of the seven children. I do however think that apart from this small piece of immaterial critique, the support Liesl gave to the young, inexperienced children during showtime, was visible, and therefore remarkably effective.
When looking back at the experience of this year’s production of Sound of Music, I can honestly say that this South African Cast once again delivered a show of the highest standards. From the harmonious voices of the nun choir, to the melodies of the whole ensemble, the experience in its holistic presentation, is something no one should miss.
The Sound Of Music will be on-stage at the Teatro, Montecasino, until 29 April, after which they will conclude their World Tour in Cape Town, running from 6 May 2018 – 27 May 2018. Tickets are available at Computicket.