As swansongs go, ‘The Sound of Music’ takes some beating. The last musical written by Rodgers and Hammerstein (lyricist Hammerstein died of stomach cancer nine months after its 1959 Broadway premiere), its songs are knitted into our national psyche, thanks mostly to the award-winning 1965 film adaptation starring Julie Andrews and Christopher Plummer.
The Salzburg-set story, for the few of you who might not have seen it, is one of a trainee nun, Maria Rainer, sent to be governess to the seven children of a widowed naval captain in the months leading up to the Anschluss: the annexing of Austria by Nazi Germany.
This production stays true to the original stage version, so fans of the film should be aware that the sequence of events is a little different. The troubling politics plays a greater role, and R&H lovers will appreciate lesser-known numbers such as ‘How Can Love Survive’ and ‘No Way to Stop It’, with their dark, cynical narrative. The flipside, however, is that the human side of the story is given scant room to breathe, with two key turning points – Maria’s winning of the childrens’ trust; and her romance with the captain – developed at breakneck speed. There’s not much chemistry between the two leads, in part due to Charlotte Wakefield (Maria’s) slightly laboured spoken performance, more suited to a larger arena than such an intimate setting. By contrast, Michael Xavier (Captain von Trapp’s) more natural demeanor was a pleasure to watch.
And there’s plenty else to love about this show. The soaring, melodic score – which includes classics ‘Edelweiss’, ‘My Favorite Things’, ‘Climb Ev’ry Mountain’– are delivered by talented singers (not least the delightful children, who drew coos from the audience).
There’s also its simple, uplifting message. The Open Air Theatre makes a superb setting: an oasis within an oasis, its miniature amphitheatre is flanked by tall trees and shrubbery, and director Rachel Kavanaugh puts ‘off-stage’ areas to good use. In Act II, after darkness has fallen, searchlights sweep the audience and armed Nazi guards run through the rows – the effect is chilling. You don’t get that watching it on the box.
By Tania Ballantine
Average User Rating
4.8 / 5
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Let’s start at the very beginning… this production of The Sound of Music is sheer delight from start to finish. The static stageset manages to convey all the multiple scenes needed for this beloved musical set in Salzburg and the open air atmosphere in Regent’s Park only enhances this. Rachel Kavanaugh, directing, has kept in all the highlights of the film, although the order of songs differs and even adds new ones. Who’d have thought Uncle Max and the Baroness could sing?! Superb casting with Charlotte Wakefield as the irrepressible Maria and Michael Xavier as the yummiest Captain Von Trapp! Extended for an extra week, I urge you to get a ticket! This is better than whiskers on kittens!
Amazing! Massive fan of Regents Park Open Air Theatre since discovering it last year and this production of The Sound of Music definitely didn't disappoint. Great staging, magical story, fantastic singers and wonderful kids made this another incredibly enjoyable evening at the open air theatre.
Great performances, and having grown up on the film, a breath of fresh air into what I know of the Sound of Music. The singers had wonderful voices, and did extraordinarly well, as during the performance I saw, the rain pelted down on the cast for the entire first half - from "raindrops on roses" onwards.
A wonderful heart warming production which uplifted the spirits on what was a very damp and miserable evening. Charlotte Wakefield was magnificent as Maria both beguiling and full of fun and the children charming beyond belief. This production was one of the best I have seen in recent years. Just a joy to see.
My mother and I (huge fans of the evergreen film version) enjoyed a magical evening at Regents Park yesterday, submerging ourselves in this latest version of Messrs. Rodgers and Hammerstein's masterpiece. Charlotte Wakefield's enthusiastic and lovable Maria had her audience captured from the first note and more than admirably carried the whole show despite rather soulless support from her counterpart lead, Michael Xavier's wooden and immature Captain von Trapp. Wakefield could have passed at times for Julie Andrews whereas Xavier - fine-voiced as he is - was light years short of Christopher Plummer. We would have liked the show to stick closer to the film version - some songs have been re-positioned and certain moments such as Maria's discovery of her love for the Captain worked less well than they did on celluloid - but the set was wonderful and there were some stunning performances in supporting roles such as Helen Hobson's splendidly strong and sympathetic Mother Abbess. The children did their bit - even if in a couple of cases with mechanical rather than heartfelt rendition - and the show can be recommended as a thoroughly enjoyable summer's evening out in London.
A superb production of Rodgers and Hammerstein's greatest hit.Wonderful acting, singing and dancing ..A perfect family entertainment for a summer afternoon or evening.Try to go in the evening if you can - the lighting effects are brilliant.Simple but highly effective staging and amazing costumes.Productions at OAT seem to improve every year.Another knockout show in this fairy tale venue.You simply must see this show.
It was amazing very one sung so brilliantly I enjoyed it so much the actors acted so well especially the children.
This is an amazing production!Everything works very well,the actors are brilliant,the singing superb,the costumes ,a pure 1st class evening out for young and the not so old !!!
A sensational show. The familiar songs have been re-imagined with interesting new harmonies and keys, and some rarely-heard numbers included as well. The dance choreography is clever and funny. The dialogue is tight and witty. Previews have been a sell-out and the show is on course to be a hit. The atmosphere in the auditorium is electric, and every night, people are reduced to tears with regular standing ovations at the end. A stunning achievement.
Having prided myself on never having seen the film or any stage production, on the grounds of the film's reputation as being yuk-inducingly saccharine/schmaltzy (one of my university cronies c.1970 gained great credit from having - literally - thrown up in the cinema while watching it), I approached this with (persuasive) wife and some 10 friends with trepidation. But I was completely blown over, almost instantly. A wonderful (based on real life) story. No gratuitous sentimentality, great and creative set & staging, and wonderful performances: not just from the adults, but (unusually) from a set of children who looked as if their character's age was the same as their own, rather than the usual of older actors trying to act younger than they really are. Loved it unreservedly.
Sound of Music at Regents park Theatre was fantastic. I couldn't fault it - music, acting, costumes, even the weather (!) made it an absolutely wonderful afternoon. The political aspect was handled very well also, and the children were well rehearsed and sang and spoke very convincingly. See it before it goes!