There is surely no-one who hasn’t spent at least one Boxing Day of their life curled up (perhaps nursing a hangover) in front of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s The Sound of Music.
But the fact that the film has become such a mainstay of the British Christmas should not blind us to the sheer quality of the stage musical from which it originated. As Rachel Kavanaugh’s new production for Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre reveals, it is a deeply emotive piece concerning, amongst other things, a man so saddened by the death of his wife that he has shut out all forms of happiness from his life.
This is before we even start on the merits of the production as a visual and aural extravaganza of the slickest kind. Peter McKintosh’s single set stands as a constant throughout the evening, but by subtle embellishments and alterations in lighting, it succeeds in creating a wide variety of areas, including at the very end the summit of a mountain.
The cast is, without exception, superb. Charlotte Wakefield as Maria stands out for the sensitivity in her voice and her ability to convey an innocent, though far from unintelligent, enthusiasm for life. The real stars of the show, however, are the seven von Trapp children who respond so impressively to Alistair David’s excellent choreography.
When seen in all its glory on the stage it would be all too easy for The Sound of Music to feel saccharine or simply overblown. Through the quality of the production and the strength of the performances this version avoids any such traps, instead providing us with an evening of truly first class entertainment that also packs quite an emotional punch.
Until 7 September at Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre, Regent’s Park, London NW1 4NU with start times of 14.15 and 19.45. For tickets (£25-£55) call 0844 826 4242 or visit the Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre website.
Londonist received a complimentary ticket from The Corner Shop PR.
Photo: Charlotte Wakefield as Maria in Rachel Kavanaugh’s production of The Sound of Music.