Malvern Festival Theatre
(Bill Kenwright Productions)
|Lucy O'Byrne as Maria|
The Malvern Hills are gloriously alive with the Sound of Music this week, as this iconic Rodgers and Hammerstein musical, that has become synonymous with a great British Christmas, plays to packed houses at the Festival Theatre.
This family favourite is enjoying a five star revival, touring the country and receiving standing ovations. Director, Martin Connor, demonstrates his expertise through his clear vision, beautiful stagecraft and wonderful casting. It’s so refreshing to witness skilled direction on stage, a seemingly lost art these days. Olivier Award winning choreographer, Bill Deamer, adds to the magic of this musical with his eloquent interpretation of the delightful score, brought to life by Musical Director, David Steadman, and his talented musicians. Liesl (Annie Holland) and Rolf’s (Kane Verrall) dance, in Sixteen Going On Seventeen, is an exquisite blend of traditional folk dance and ballroom and the perfect example of Deamer’s genius and beautifully performed. Gary McGann has designed the most impressive set, transforming a simple stage into truly magnificent settings. It is a wonder how everything fitted into the theatre.
Making her musical debut is the immensely gifted, Lucy O’Byrne, a recent finalist on BBC’s The Voice. Her interpretation of Maria is enchanting and engaging and she makes this epic role look effortless. Gray O’Brien makes a dashing Captain von Trapp and, although his physicality lacked the assuredness and stillness more suited to his character, he is very charming. Isla Carter brings an exciting new energy to the prim, Frau Schraeder and Duncan Smith is hilarious as the theatrical, Max Detweiler. Jan Hartley is a loveable Mother Abbess with almost supernatural power vocals. The von Trapp children all excel in the individual roles and the supporting cast are brilliant in their various guises, in particular Pippa Winslow as the housekeeper, Frau Schmidt.
This is a superb production of a timeless classic and worthy of the highest praise. A Sound of Music runs at Malvern Festival Theatre until Saturday. Go and see it!