The Sound of Music, one of the greatest film musicals of all time stops at the New Theatre in Cardiff this week as it travels around the UK on tour. This wonderfully lavish staging tells the true story of the world-famous singing family, from their romantic beginnings and search for happiness, to their thrilling escape to freedom at the start of World War Two.
The shows beings in the Abbey with several nuns walking around and beautiful choral singing accompanying them in the background. As the nuns turned around you see that they are singing, and their voices made the hairs on the back of my neck stand up.
Lucy O’Byrne shines as Maria on stage combining a lovely personality and great nature with the Von Trapp children. Neil McDermott plays Captain Von Trapp with the right amount of authority, providing an overbearing presence as the Captain of the Ship (the house) in the First Act. From the first time they meet on stage there is real chemistry between Maria and Captain Von Trapp highlighted by their dancing in the party to welcome Elsa Schraeder.
Probably my highlight of the First Act was the performance of Sixteen Going On Seventeen by Jordan Oliver as Rolf and Katie Shearman as Liesl. While their chemistry was not too obvious at the start of the scene, it blossomed through their dancing, which was spectacular, and excellently choreographed.
Ending the First Act of the musical was Wales own Megan Llewellyn as Mother Abbess, with her stunning opera voice filling the auditorium singing The Hills are Alive. Once again this provided another spine-tingling moment in the musical.
The excited audience were obviously enjoying the show as demonstrated by their clapping and singing along to the overture at the start of the second act. As the musical moves on quickly the Captain and Maria decide to marry and the wedding is accompanied once again by phenomenal singing from the nuns.
Going much too fast the highlight of the second half was the families performance in the concert with Howard Samuels as Max stealing the scene trying to warn the Von Trapp family of their apparent impending doom.
Not to be forgotten, the children didn’t put a foot wrong all night and really looked like a true family, not only their chemistry together but also when they were on stage with Lucy O’Byrne or Neil McDermott.
Finally, I loved the set. Transforming from a larger than life mansion reminiscent of the one you see in the film into a bare abbey with no more furniture than a desk, chair and some bookshelves. The use of pillars to create completely different looks for the different scenes made the set changes very smooth but what astounded me was the very short time they could bring a large staircase on the stage in some of the changes.
- If you get the chance, The Sound of Music is one of the must-watch musicals, and can be seen at the New Theatre, Cardiff until Saturday February 17 2018.