Eileen Caiger Gray reviews The Sound of Music at the Sheffield Lyceum
On film The Sound Of Music conjures up the airy grandeur of mountaintops, the holiness of hallowed convent cloisters, echoing with heavenly harmonies, and a grand, palatial home with sweeping stairways and beautiful vistas.
Onstage, Gary McCann’s glorious, layered set achieves impact on all these fronts and with scene changes that are soothingly smooth and impressive.
As the irrepressible Maria, Danielle Hope is a delight. Full of smiling radiance and bounce, her all round loveliness, warmth and liveliness are just the job. The audience fully embrace this sweet-natured, sweet-voiced, feisty Maria as a true lover of whiskers on kittens and warm, woollen mittens.
Jan Hartley is another who touches hearts as the firm but fun Mother Abbess, her stupendous singing voice convincing everyone, once and for all, that they really should Climb Every Mountain.
Courtesy of ten magnificent musicians on keyboards, brass, wind, cello, double bass and a wealth of expert percussion (with church bells on!), under the robust baton of David Steadman, Rodgers and Hammerstein’s ever-fresh, exhilarating songs gain a full, round, uplifting orchestral sound. Bravissimo, the band!
Costumes are sumptuous too, the outfits of millionairess Elsa, admirably played by Sarah Soetaert, having particular flow, beauty and elegance.
Stephen Houghton’s frosty Captain von Trapp, not the strongest of singers, comes up trumps with his Edelweiss, while his size-graded brood of children, each played with great confidence, expertise and polished professionalism, prove an endearing bunch, the eldest, Liesl (Sixteen, Going On Seventeen) being sung, danced and engagingly brought to life by Grace Chapman.
Elevated enunciation, round vowels and deliberate diction are, of course, the cut-glass order of the day as this legendary romantic story unfolds, laced with light humour and heavy wartime drama (based loosely on the real Maria’s true life story).
With glorious music and fine singing sitting centre-stage, this is a warming 50th Anniversary celebration of the most successful film musical of all time and great entertainment.
The show tours until July in Glasgow, Wimbledon, Woking and Bristol.