If you’ve grown up with The Sound of Music, you’ve probably fantasised about being one of the von Trapp’s adorable, tuneful children at some point in your childhood. And chances are, you’ve grown up with The Sound of Music.
That’s what makes this musical everlasting. The audience spans generations. Yet seniors and kids alike are familiar with the songs (I would know; in last night’s Melbourne production, I sat near a young girl who insisted on singing along to The Lonely Goatherd).
It’s a classic musical everyone knows and loves. People are ready to be immersed in the story.
And now that The Sound of Music has come to Melbourne for a limited run, I expect we’ll see flocks head through the gorgeous doors of the Regent Theatre to be a part of the von Trapp family for the night.
The Sound of Music: Melbourne Review
It’s a tale we’re familiar with; a whimsical nun called Maria (“a flibbertigibbet,” a certain nun would say) is sent to the home of a strict, widowed captain to care for his 7 children. She finds the captain distant from his children and from anything that could bring joy to the home – all because it reminds him too much of his dead wife.
But Maria, herself unable to take a stroll through the hills without singing, brings a certain energy to the house and … well, you know the drill.
The Sound of Music was a Rodgers & Hammerstein musical a good half decade before the 1965 movie. Yet there are few differences between the stage production and the moving picture. You’d recognise a fair portion of the scenes, dialogues, and songs from the movie.
The musical follows the same order of events, even if it does mix up the song chronology you’d be used to. There are several additional songs thrown in – to give Baroness Schraeder (played by Marina Prior) and Uncle Max a voice – but these tunes don’t add much to the performance.
In fact, the best parts of the show are the parts you already know; the children’s performances of Do-Re-Mi, The Lonely Goatherd, and So Long, Farewell.
It’s a good thing children feature in the show; they inject all the liveliness into the performances, although Amy Lehpamer brings a youthful vivacity to Maria’s character that’s charming to watch.
The other stand-out is the Mother Abbess (Jacqueline Dark), a formidable soprano whose serious, powerful voice sends a frisson around the theatre.
Something to remember when you go into the performance is that this is a classic musical.
I don’t mean classic in the sense of renowned here. It’s classical. You can expect high-quality choir performances and elaborate sets (although it was a shame to see that the set had been greatly reduced in size instead of making the most of the Regent’s grand stage).
But there are none of the excessive gimmicks or lively dancing that you would see in more modern musicals like Matilda the Musical.
Yep, that also means no pinecones on chairs or frogs in pockets. In fact, it takes little work on Maria’s part to endear herself to her charges.
Nor is there excessive sentimentality. The romance between Maria and Captain von Trapp seemed stilted, although that might have something to do with the lack of intimacy the large Regent Theatre provides.
Cameron Daddo plays a stiff Captain von Trapp, but this may be more in keeping with the real-life captain on whom The Sound of Music is based; the true Maria confessed in her own autobiography that she only learned to love the captain long after they were married.
“I really and truly was not in love. I liked him but didn’t love him. However, I loved the children, so in a way I really married the children. I learned to love him more than I have ever loved before or after.” – Maria von Trapp
Christopher Plummer (who played the captain in the film) might also have been more impressed with this rendition. He called the film version “The Sound of Mucus”, because “it was so awful and sentimental and gooey“.
Still, the stage musical barrels along at a fast pace, speeding through the scenes we know so well, so that before you know it, you’re coming to the grand finale.
The Salzburg Festival scenes are the real part you’ll remember as soldiers come marching down the aisles to survey the crowds while the von Trapp family performs.
You’re drawn into the performance, becoming an Austrian audience rather than a Melbourne one. You’re almost ready to join in the final rendition of Edelweiss.
Much as Plummer wouldn’t like to hear it, there’s something heart-warming about the show. It’s the familiarity factor. The songs, the lines, the scenes … you eagerly anticipate each one and then declare that it’s your favourite before the next scene eclipses it.
And in any case, I’m glad it’s Rodger & Hammerstein’s musical we’ve embraced. The true story of the von Trapps – that they began singing in their mid-teens to mid-20s to earn a livelihood after they lost most of their wealth – may have lacked the charisma to make the distance.
Tickets for The Sound of Music in Melbourne
Where: Regent Theatre, 191 Collins Street.
If you can’t afford the best seats in the house, or they’re already sold out, I recommend heading to the Dress Circle. The Stalls don’t have a great incline, so if you’re stuck behind a taller person, you’ll have quite a restricted view.
On the other hand, restricted view seats in the Dress Circle are pretty good value for money. Our Dress Circle seats were 4 rows from the front and on the far right. While that cut off a small portion of the stage, it didn’t really affect our view. The seats are wide and comfy and the incline is perfect.
When: On now until 31 July.
Please note, there’s a lock-out period that goes for quite a while once the show has started. Try to get into your seats before it begins, otherwise, you may miss some 20 minutes of the show.
Cost: $79.90-$143.45. Tickets for The Sound of Music in Melbourne can be bought at Ticketmaster.