THE SOUND OF MUSIC

St James Theatre 2, Wellington

12/09/2014 - 21/09/2014

The Civic – THE EDGE®, Auckland

03/10/2014 - 19/10/2014

Production Details



“DEFINITELY ONE OF MY FAVOURITE THINGS” – SKY NEWS, UK 

The world’s best-loved musical, The Sound of Music, comes to New Zealand from September with a lavish production from the home of West End musical theatre, the famous London Palladium. 

Joining the 30-strong cast as the Mother Abbess is international opera star Lesley Garrett, reprising her critically-acclaimed role in the original London production. Britain’s most popular soprano, Lesley Garrett CBE has 14 solo CDs to her credit and regularly performs in operas, in concert and on TV. 

The Sound of Music tells the uplifting true story of Maria, the fun-loving governess who changes the lives of the widowed Captain von Trapp and his seven children through her love of music. 

The original Broadway production won six Tony Awards, including Best Musical. The 1965 movie starring Julie Andrews as Maria won five Oscars, including Best Picture, and remains one of the most popular movies of all time. 

The Sound of Music brims over with some of the most memorable songs ever performed on the musical theatre stage, including: Sixteen Going on Seventeen Climb Ev’ry Mountain, The Lonely Goatherd, My Favorite Things, The Sound of Music, Do-Re-Mi, and Edelweiss

This iconic show touches the hearts of all ages – don’t miss it! 

“A delight from start to finish” – Manchester Evening News

ST JAMES THEATRE, Wellington
77-87 Courtenay Place, Te Aro. View Map.
12 – 21 September, 2014
Tuesday: 6.30pm
Wednesday – Friday: 7.30pm
Saturday: 2.30pm & 7.30pm
Sunday: 1pm & 5pm
BOOK NOW PHONE: 0800 842 538 or Visit an Outlet.

GROUPS of 8+ SAVE! 
Available: Tuesday – Thursday & Weekend matinée performances.
Limited Availability
PHONE: 04 384 3842

School Groups
Available Tuesday – Thursday performances. For availability call: 04 384 3842

THE CIVIC, Auckland
Corner Queen Street & Wellesley Street, Auckland CBD, View Map.
3 – 19 October, 2014
Tuesday: 6.30pm
Wednesday – Friday: 7.30pm
Saturday: 2.30pm & 7.30pm
Sunday: 1pm & 5pm
BOOK NOW PHONE: 09 970 9700 or Visit an Outlet.

GROUPS of 8+ SAVE!
Available: Tuesday – Thursday & Weekend matinée performances.
Limited Availability
PHONE: 09 970 9745

School Groups
Available Tuesday – Thursday performances. For availability call: 09 970 9745




Bloom and grow forever

Review by James Wenley 06th Oct 2014

If you’re not completely won over by the time the Von Trapp children are skipping along to Do-Re-Me, you should see a doctor immediately to check for a heart condition. 

The template for the New Zealand touring production is Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber’s 2006 production at the London Palladium (for which he cast Maria through a reality TV show), and winds our way with a largely South African cast, and some talented local kids. Writing in the program, Lloyd Webber reflects that he was teased by his school-mates after attending the opening of the 1961 London production; musicals were an “unfashionable cause”. Those are sentiments I can certainly sympathise with. I have a high regard for The Sound of Music, the final masterpiece from Rodgers and Hammerstein, but to admit so was hardly fashionable for a teenage boy. [More

Comments

Make a comment

Von Trapps in tune with 21st Century

Review by Paul Simei-Barton 06th Oct 2014

Right now The Sound of Music seems even more in tune with the times than when it premiered in 1959 and anticipated all the major themes of the 60s. 

A young musician with an old guitar abandons the security of her cloistered home to embrace risk and adventure.

Her spontaneity challenges the rigid authoritarianism of an uptight establishment and in the authenticity of the folk song she finds a potent protest against the repressive power of militarism. [More]

Comments

Make a comment

A lot to take in

Review by Kate Ward-Smythe 05th Oct 2014

This London Palladium Production of The Sound of Music is a delightful, warm celebration of some of musical theatre’s most enduring and much loved songs. Beneath the stylised dialogue and derivative characters, a global cast of stunning singers, with well-known English soprano Lesley Garrett at the helm, pay a wonderful tribute to Rodgers and Hammerstein’s most popular musical.  

While this is a new production of the original, it seems proudly traditional, and I imagine very close to what theatre and cinema audiences in the 1960s would have experienced. Certainly every scene, sentiment, score and song is pretty much in keeping with my childhood memories of the 20th Century Fox blockbuster, starring Julie Andrews and Christopher Plummer. In fact co-producer and self-confessed lover of this musical, Andrew Lloyd-Webber includes two songs from the movie which did not appear in the original stage musical.

Nostalgia can be a joyful experience and for the vast majority of the appreciative, reverent opening night audience, it is exactly that. Which is a good argument for Director Jeremy Sams and Associate Director Frank Thompson, not to modernise the interpretation of this cherished work. On saying that, just to be sure that this family musical is taken in context, I make it very clear to my 10 year old Ella, that what is said about the nature of love in particular, is very much in keeping with 1938. 

Producers Lloyd Webber, David Ian, The Really Useful Group, James Cundall and David Atkins have created a polished, large-scale traditional musical theatre experience, honouring this work. Their combined eye for detail on opening night is noted: the Civic’s awning is lit an appropriate sky-blue, in keeping with the palette of the promotions, and my reviewer’s programme is in a brown paper package, tied up with string. Just charming, if you like that sort of thing, which on this occasion, I do. 

Set designer Robert Jones’ Abbey, Austrian mountainside, and von Trapp villa, are conventional yet impressive and detailed (in particular, his ornate chandelier). Similarly, his costumes are suitably prim and proper, plus the nuns’ habit is the finest I’ve seen on stage. Breaking with the convention of pinnies, buttoned up frocks and sensible shoes, Maria’s wedding gown is full, fabulous and as chic as any other design I’ve seen on magazine covers lately. 

Lighting designer Mark Henderson sets a godly tone on the pre-show gauze, as heavenly clouds sit behind a golden halo. Henderson creates great depth and perspective as the audience journeys across the Austrian landscape. His slow sunset during Act Two, Scene 1 – as the brooding political undertones and aspirations of the Nazi party starts bleeding to the fore, affecting friendships and relationships – is art. His treatment of The Concert Hall in scene 4 – with up-lit omnipresent, armed Nazi guards and Robert Jones’ blood red banners with swastikas and the German Reich’s Coat of Arms – by contrast to the rest of the musical, is chilling.

Sound designer Mick Potter ensures the overall volume (as well as substantial reverb when required) sits just right for the vocals to soar through The Civic, warm and clean.

I confess, the perfectly pitched opening company number, Preludium, lead by Lesley Garrett, is so heavenly, I feel a flood of unexpected emotion, then a wave of sadness about Ewen Gilmour’s sudden death… and cry. Such is the power of music when done so well. Amen. 

Anyway, on with the show.

It’s clear from the first few notes of The Sound of Music, that Bethany Dickson is the perfect Maria Rainer. She’s full of the joys of spring: hopeful and happy plus she sings with a bright tone, full of youth and innocence. Her voice sits beautifully in every song. 

Thanks to the work of Robert Russell Bennett (orchestrations) and Musical Director Louis Zurnamer, the modest orchestra sounds much fuller and richer than the eight hard working players in the pit. No doubt with the help of the 3 keyboardists, the two violin players manage to sound like a full string section. The solo brass, woodwind and percussion players miraculously cover the rest of the score. While singers and player are mostly in synch and Zurnamer navigates the many tempo changes well, occasionally, as in ‘Sixteen Going On Seventeen’ for example, the orchestra sounds a little pedestrian.  

The youngest six of the seven von Trapp children (three revolving casts, from Wellington and Auckland), are delightful on opening night. Little Ella Robertson as Gretl is just too cute and Melody Lui-Webster (Marta) is a natural on stage. Sophie Parkinson (Louisa) and Tara Canton (Brigitta) are very well cast in their respective roles, plus young lads Matthew Turner (Friedrich) and Jaxson Cook (Kurt), as with all the children, possess excellent voices.

With Carmen Pretorius outstanding in the role of oldest child Liesl, their ensemble precision, in ‘Do-Re-Mi’ and ‘So Long, Farewell’ in particular, is wonderful to watch. The intricate choreography of Arlene Phillips and her associate choreographer Jonny Bowles, is seamlessly performed by the troupe.

Pretorius, like every company member, has an appealing voice, which sits nicely with Rhys Hewitt Williams (in the role of Rolf), during ‘Sixteen Going On Seventeen’.

Every iconic song, from ‘My Favourite Things’ (beautifully performed by Lesley Garrett and Bethany Dickson), to ‘Edelweiss’ (where Mark Rayment gets to show his sweet vocals), as well as the lesser-known yet spine-tingling ‘Wedding Processional’ and seemingly everlasting ‘Climb Ev’ry Mountain’, is performed with stirring commitment and exactness by this talented cast. 

At the end of the night, and still now, there are two aspects of this production that linger: the songs and the moment Nazi propaganda takes over the theatre.

While the former is expected, the latter surprises me. Which goes to show, that even this most wholesome genre of story-telling can take a dark, defining moment in history and create a dramatic mood and moment that is affecting.

Over breakfast, Ella hums ‘a few of her favourite things’, and then asks me why the Nazis were so mean to everyone. And so begins an on-going history lesson, including the story of the real Von Trapp family and the fact that over the weekend, this news headline caught my eye: “Anti-Semitism is once again on the rise in Europe, especially in Germany.”

The Sound Of Music, which ends with a chorus line of Nazis and Nuns taking a bow together, is a lot to take in.

Comments

Make a comment

Gets to the heart of a well-wrought story

Review by John Smythe 15th Sep 2014

In his programme note (which you too can read for $20!), producer Andrew Lloyd Webber reminds us critics derided as “saccharine” The Sound of Music’s debut (1959 on NYC’s Broadway; 1961 on London’s West End). He goes on to celebrate the greatness of Richard Rogers’ melodies and Oscar Hammerstein’s lyrics – accolades which are thoroughly deserved, of course.

What impresses me most with this revival, however, is how unified the story is thematically (book by Howard Lindsay and Russel Crouse, inspired by Maria Augusta von Trapp’s memoir, The Trapp Family Singers). It pits limits against liberty, repression against freedom, in every dimension of the dramatisation.

The repression of natural urges – including to run and sing – is omnipresent in Nonnberg Abbey. At the von Trapp Villa, the playfulness of childhood is totally suppressed under the militaristic regime of Captain Georg von Trapp, and his oldest daughter, Liesel, must explore her romantic interest in Rolf Gruber, the Telegram boy, by subterfuge. Then there is the looming threat of the occupation of Austria by Hitler’s Third Reich, which becomes a real and present danger to all who do not embrace it in the build to the climactic outcome.

There is nothing simplistic in how these ‘regimes’ are compared and contrasted. Even the antidote itself – music – can only have its liberating effect when strict rules are adhered to. And although The Sound of Music doesn’t offer a specific example, music can just as easily be a powerful instrument of repressive propaganda (e.g. ‘Tomorrow Belongs to Me’ in Cabaret) as an expression of free spiritedness.  

What The Sound of Music offers at its heart, then – as directed by Jeremy Sams for Andrew Loyd Webber, David Ian and the Really Useful Group – is the engaging opportunity to evaluate, consciously or otherwise, the different regimes in light of the relationship each one has with ‘love’, or the lack of it: the love of God, life, liberty, a lover, children, a father, the Fatherland … It’s all there.

Thankfully we were spared the ‘star power’ hype that dominated this UK revival, with its BBC One talent quest for finding the new Maria (negotiations having broken down to have Scarlett Johansson in the lead). By contrast, the quest for Kiwi kids to play Liesel’s younger siblings has brought it home to us in a heart-warming way.  (Three teams of six cover the roles, so I will name those who performed in the ‘gala opening’.)

The individual idiosyncrasies of Friedrich (Julian Peddie), Louisa (Daisy Maguire), Kurt (Alexander Lake-Smith), Briggita (Brooke Raitt), Marta (Amelia Walshe) and Gretl (Bronte Walshe) are very clearly delineated and played with beautifully balanced precision and relish.

Along with Liesl (Carmen Pretorius) – and apart from Maria herself – these are arguably the most demanding roles. This group of children meet the challenges of intricate harmonies and choreography – ‘So long, Farewell’ in particular – with an alacrity that must keep the seasoned professionals of their toes.

Bethany Dickson ticks all the boxes with her Maria Rainer, matching innocence, vulnerability and fear of becoming an adult with inner strength and integrity. And her voice is sublime. So too is Lesley Garrett’s soaring operatic voice, as the Mother Abbess, although it’s a shame she has to conform to wearing a radio mic.  

As Captain Georg von Trapp, Mark Rayment doesn’t quite have the full, rich baritone one might wish for but he hits his marks acting-wise, especially when it comes to his relationship with Taryn Sudding’s rich, elegant but politically weak baroness Schrader, and resisting the Reich – formidably personified by Christopher Dudgeon’s Herr Zeller.

Also lacking in moral fibre, until it comes to the crunch, is would-be impresario Max Detweiler, whose very human flaws are delightfully delineated by James Borthwick. Rhys Hewitt Williams likewise exercises our “what would I do?” muscles with his rather less complex Rolf Gruber. 

The whole cast (27-strong in each performance) plays to a purpose that transcends the show’s often broad theatrical conventions by bringing its essential and universal truths into focus.  

The Robert Jones-designed set is impeccably mechanised and managed by the backstage crew although when the clouds that wreathe Maria’s beloved mountains hang about in the Abbey, the Nuns are proved right: you cannot “catch a cloud and pin it down”. My only other gripe is that the follow-spots throw shadows on the sky at times.

Musical Director Louis Zurnamer and his orchestral octet enliven the air with the wonderfully familiar music and it’s impossible not to leave with a hum in your head and a spring in your step.

Being a fully professional show the ticket prices are high, so you need to know this production of The Sound of Music gets to the heart of a well-wrought story – not least by eschewing the modifications made for the film and staging the original script (while adding ‘I Have Confidence’ and ‘Something Good’ which Rogers wrote for the movie).

Comments

Make a comment

Sublime singing

Review by Ewen Coleman [Reproduced with permission of Fairfax Media] 15th Sep 2014

When one of the best known and most loved, musicals of all time, The Sound of Music, hits town, an air of excited anticipation abounds. Not only from those who grew up with the songs but those who have heard it talked about and may have only ever seen the film with Julie Andrews.

Yet how is a musical that began life 55 years ago going to stack up with a modern-day audience? In this production absolutely amazingly and of all the musicals in town this year, this is the one to see. [More]

Comments

Make a comment

Wellingon City Council
Aotearoa Gaming Trust
Creative NZ
Auckland City Council
Waiematā Local Board logo