The Sound of Music

Think of The Sound of Music and your mind is immediately transported to Julie Andrews, Austria, the von Trapp family and all those well-loved tunes.

Broadway Across Canada’s new production of The Sound of Music is bang-on from start to finish, awash with colourful sets, a talented cast and music.

The two and 3/4-hour, two-act production moves quickly and the story is kept true to form, only sped up a bit in pace. As the world is more than familiar with this timeless story, my husband and I were looking for three elements in this production to hone in on: set design, music and how well Maria and the children work together.

We’re pleased to announce that all three elements exceed expectations. The show is easy to get into: it moves along and entertains throughout.

Jill-Christine Wiley as Maria gives us a lovable lead with a sweet, uplifting voice that effortlessly works with the children’s.

Lauren Kidwell, Jill Christine
[Lauren Kidwell, Jill-Christine Wiley]

And speaking of vocal talent, Lauren Kidwell as The Mother Abbess is a powerhouse. We were likely not the only ones having goose bumps as Climb Ev’ry Mountain builds to its crescendo, earning her a huge round of applause at curtain call. The nuns also harmonize beautifully during the opening number (Preludium) and the wedding ceremony.

The kids are all great and show a playful spontaneity as a unit while giving the audience a glimpse into each one’s character, right down to little Gretl (played by charming Madeleine Guilbot; big sis Danielle is her understudy).

Keslie Ward’s Liesl, the eldest von Trapp sibling, gets her heart broken by Rolf Gruber (a solid performance by Chad P. Campbell) when she finds he has fallen in line with the growing Nazi regime in Austria.

Baritone Mike McLean offers a romantic vision of Captain von Trapp and is very well suited for Wiley’s Maria. Stephanie Gray keeps her cool and stands her ground as housekeeper Frau Schmidt while Jake Mills offers a comical Max Detweiler.

As the Nazi party gains momentum, the family smartly decide to outsmart the Germans by performing at a talent show in Kaltzberg. When they’re chosen for an encore, they decide on So Long, Farewell.

Each member exits the stage, hides, and as a family, eventually escape to the sanctuary of the Nonnberg Abbey, where The Mother Abbess is able to offer them temporary shelter in the garden until the Nazi hunt has subsided.

In an act of love and compassion, Rolf spots the family hiding back there and Liesl, off to the side, protecting them. He decides to give them a free pass, telling the other Germans that the coast is clear in the garden.

Scenic Designer Douglas W. Schmidt’s modular sets are stunning. The lace backdrop inside the von Trapp family home changes colour to suit the mood of each scene.

Maria, von Trapp children

Lighting Designer Natasha Katz is a wiz here too; equally magnificent is the set and lighting at the Cathedral at Nonnberg Abbess, serving as the wedding venue of the Captain and Maria.

From the von Trapp home’s winding staircase and chandelier to three-layered walls for perspective, the show is a visual pleasure to take in.

This show will delight audiences of all ages. Matt Lenz has recreated a fabulous production based on Jack O’Brien’s original direction. If you can get tickets, by all means, indulge in this heart-filled production, on now at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre through Sunday, September 17.

Photos by Matthew Murphy.

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