Over the years I have been fortunate to have seen a number of South African productions of the “The Sound of Music.”
On each occasion there was a facet that stood out. In this spectacular new production at the Teatro, directed by Jeremy Sams, it’s the glorious children who provided the cornerstone of this show. The group I saw on media night were utterly enchanting and stole every scene from their adult counterparts.
From the very mature looking 16-year-old (going on 17) Liesl (Zoe Bevon) to the tiniest and most adorable member of the cast, Gretl (Ruby Mia Cohen), they all shone. Daniel Roberts as the older Von Trapp son Friedrich, Luca Teague as Louisa, Caleb Spence as Kurt, Mia Nupen as Brigitta and Ruth Alexis Boyd as Marta – all worked together as a cohesive whole, surrounding the production with its heart and soul.
The adults were outgunned, I’m afraid. Andre Schwartz played Capt Von Trapp and Carmen Pretorius the pivotal part of Maria, using her vocal powers to great effect.
Also soaring above the clouds in the vocal department was Janelle Visagie as The Mother Abbess, whose rendition of Climb Ev’ry Mountain brought the capacity house down. Jonathan Taylor was Max Detweiler, a family friend and confidante who discovers the children’s singing prowess, while Haylea Heyns played the rich and manipulative Baroness Schraeder who has her eye on marrying the wealthy Captain. Rika Sennett was effective as Frau Schmidt, the starchy head of the household.
Rolf, the messenger, who weaves a romantic spell around the impressionable Liesl was played by Michael McMeeking.
This version is a visual feast with stunning costumes and an imaginative set and a live orchestra, under the baton of Kevin Kraak, rendering all those famous songs with a great deal of style and punch.
The story of the Von Trapp Family, the love between Captain Von Trapp and the often troubled governess Maria, and the rising tide of Nazism on their doorstep is well documented. It boasts amazing values and integrity, aspects that help to make this timeless, a show that both parents and their children have enjoyed for generations. The narrative remains faithful to the book and is punctuated by Rodgers and Hammerstein’s magnificent score which continually lifts the production.
The big, bold musical, when thoughtfully put together, is a tonic for the soul and “The Sound of Music” once again demonstrates its immense staying power. It is slick and energetic.
The Sound of Music is on at the Teatro, Montecasino, Fourways, until the 29 April.