The Sound Of Music

Connie Fisher returns as Maria in the world’s best-loved musical
New Theatre, Oxford, Tue December 7th 2010 - Mon January 3rd 2011

December 9, 2010
“The hiiiilllllllls are aliiiiive with the sound of meeeewwwsic…” You already know Rodgers and Hammerstein’s The Sound of Music, I suspect whether willingly or not you will have seen the 1965 film starring Julie Andrews, and you most probably were aware of the 2006 TV talent series How Do You Solve a Problem Like Maria?, won by Connie Fisher, who plays the lead in this most recent stage production direct from the London Palladium.

This is a pert and polished show, with posh sets, fancy frocks, and lots of pretty backdrops. Everything is ‘just so’. Fisher puts on a pleasant Maria, evidently inspired by Andrews’ efforts though played with a kookier edge. Her voice is strong and sweet and although the jokes are a bit lame Fisher has the kind of presence that makes you want to be nice and give her a hearty laugh. And that’s nice. In fact, every thing about this production is ‘nice’...

Each song is delivered just as you will remember it from the film, performed accurately and agreeably. The dance routines are again reminiscent of the film: neat, seamless, though verging on the restrained. You’re not going to be surprised.

That said, the Von Trapp children are all exceptional. They were cute without being sickening, talented without being conceited and seemed as though they were having a blast. The nuns too gave good nun – headmistressly stern, with an occasional trace of naughtiness. Max Detweiler, played by Martin Callaghan, also stood out as bringing some oomph to the production – he had an Eddie Izzard-cum-Philip Seymour Hoffman thing about him. Captain Von Trapp was appropriately unemotional, and dare I say looked rather strapping in his knee-high boots.

Of course, there are serious and sad themes to the story. Captain Von Trapp is trying to resist the German invasion of Austria, his children are adjusting to having lost their mother… and Maria has only an ugly dress to wear.

This is a quality production that takes no risks. If you’re already a die-hard fan of the Sound of Music and want to see an archetypal rendition of your favourite numbers then you won’t be disappointed. Then, for the politically incorrect amongst you, the curtain call offers the rare opportunity to applaud a Nazi while wolf-whistling a nun. Wunderbar!
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