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The Sound of Music Review at New Wimbledon Theatre
The Sound of Music is a production that can be on repeat so often one can almost become complacent about its qualities. After all, for those with short memories Bill Kenwright produced its UK tour in 2015 and here we are and here he is again, proudly sitting in the audience. There is a magic to the story that transcends any sense of déjà vu though. In its latest turn at New Wimbledon Theatre, the casting director has cracked upon another super talent in Lucy O’Byrne, she previously of BBC’s The Voice. O'Byrne imbues Maria with that generosity of spirit together with a streak of stubbornness. Her inner turmoil and lingering doubt about religious duties interfering with real life matters of the heart is also played out well.
Andrew Lancel, he of The Vice not The Voice, is a more interesting choice as Captain von Trapp. In its previous incarnation in 2010 in this very theatre, Michael "Robin Hood" Praed played the captain to a tee and you could see the manifestation of Maria's presence in its effect on the gradual growth of trust and love that was brought back into a house that had been starved of affection since the death of his wife. Lancel does not seem to carry that weight of tone and presence. There is a certain lack of friction and chemistry between the two leads. It does not ruin the spectacle at all but it does mean that there is a certain fast track to true love that is not emotionally resonant to the audience.
As for the songs? Well, there are always the songs and there are some stellar voices. O’Byrne can hold a note, not irritatingly so, and what material to play with. "My Favourite Things" is a delight, as is "So Long, Farewell", although when that was sung there may have been a slight pining for the end of the first half which was overlong by about 15 minutes.
The children - the magnificent seven - are merrily played by all. A small quibble is the story may have benefited from some deeper exploration of suspicion that normally greets the governesses of the house. There was a laugh or two but maybe more could have been done to make mischief. There is a lovely scene where eldest Liesl (beautifully played by Annie Holland)romances with her teenage sweetheart despite the fact that it almost turns into a Strictly Come Dancing routine.
The back story regarding the war is glossed over to a large extent and the political overtones are certainly never in danger of rearing too far above the mansion’s parapet. In fact, everything could have been been a bit weightier but perhaps a little shorter in duration. The Sound of Music will always win out in the end though. It always does.