It has been almost sixty years since the original production of The Sound of Music opened on Broadway in 1959. Since then the iconic film and countless stage productions have followed, and it’s easy to see why it has been dubbed “the world’s most popular musical”. The current version, staged at the Artscape Opera House in Cape Town, is every bit as magical as its predecessors. In fact, the musical feels like a good red wine: It just gets better with time.
All your favourites are included in the score: “My Favourite Things”, “Edelweiss”, “Do-Re-Mi”, “Sixteen Going on Seventeen”, “The Lonely Goatherd”, “Climb Ev’ry Mountain”, and of course the title song “The Sound of Music”. It’s difficult to not get nostalgic and you must constantly remind yourself to not sing along – the person sitting next to me will certainly not appreciate me singing along!
The power of this production certainly lies is the exquisite sets and the exceptionally smooth change-overs. From the moment you see carefree Maria on the hills, you know this is going to be something magical. All scene changes are automatic: the “hills” slide away, a desk runs on rails and the windows simply drop down from above the stage. These technical finishes takes the production to another level.
Andre Schwartz plays the role of Captain von Trapp and theatrical chameleon Carmen Pretorius is the ever-delightful Maria. It’s difficult to not compare Pretorius to Andrews in the 1965 film version. They look the same, they sound the same and they even have a similar energy. Pretorius plays the role with a certain ease and her chemistry with the child actors is noticeable. Whilst adding her own interpretation to the role, she manages to capture the magic of Maria and especially her rendition of “Do-Re-Mi” gives you that warm, familiar and fuzzy feeling.
It feels almost pedantic to point out flaws in such a marvellous production, but Schwartz delivered a disappointing performance. Compared to his fellow actors and singers, he didn’t rise to the occasion. There’s very little comparison with Christopher Plummer (who played Captain von Trapp in the 1965 film version). For the most part, Schwartz didn’t seem to vocally be up for the task. He has little presence, and his voice does not seem strong enough to command the respect that Captain von Trapp deserves.
But the real stars of the show, were the seven Von Trapp children (in this specific performance). Each and every one of them deserves a mention: Zoe Beavon (who plays 16-year-old Liesel, although the actress is an adult), Jamie McNally (13 years old), Jemma Thoson (14), James Grieve (12), Lulu Berström (10), Sarah Cobley (9) and Lara Smit (7).
It is difficult to not love each one of them. It’s a very demanding musical – vocally and as an actor and dancer – and these children impress around every corner. Not one moment do you feel they are just children acting. You almost forget they are actors on a stage. They have presence and all of them have bright futures ahead of themselves.
Even if you’ve never seen a production or the film version of this iconic musical, you should visit Artscape for this production. It’s magical and just like a fine wine, you will think about it for days to come.
Cape Town – ARTSCAPE Opera
6 May 2018 – 27 May 2018