The Sound of Music

Opera House, Wellington

25/09/2008 - 11/10/2008

Production Details


The hills are alive once more. The world’s best-loved musical, The Sound of Music, returns to Wellington with a dazzling new production at the Opera House from 25 September. The season has been extended a week and now runs until 11 October.

Based on the uplifting true story of the Von Trapp family and the good natured Maria, The Sound of Music was the last collaboration between Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II, becoming one of the most successful Oscar-winning film musicals of all time.

This timeless family classic will be directed by Grant Meese (Cats) and he is joined by renowned Musical Director Michael Nicholas Williams; sets and costumes for this new production have been brought to New Zealand directly from the United States.

The score for The Sound of Music touches the hearts of all ages and brims over with some of the most memorable songs ever performed on the musical stage including My Favourite Things, Do-Re-Mi, Edelweiss, Climb Every Mountain, Sixteen Going on Seventeen, The Lonely Goatherd and of course the glorious title song The Sound of Music.

Its stunning, joyous songs and timeless message of triumph over adversity remain as potent today as ever. Don’t miss it!

"A show that restores one’s faith in human nature. I left with a spring in my step and a smile on my face. Suddenly the world seemed a brighter place" – The Daily Telegraph

Dates & Times
25 Sep 2008 (Thu) – 11 Oct 2008 (Sat)

Friday 26 September 2008 7:30pm
Saturday 27 September 2008 2pm
Saturday 27 September 2008 7:30pm
Sunday 28 September 2008 4pm
Wednesday 1 October 2008 7:30pm
Thursday 2 October 2008 7:30pm
Friday 3 October 2008 7:30pm
Saturday 4 October 2008 2pm
Saturday 4 October 2008 7:30pm
Sunday 5 October 2008 4pm
Wednesday 8 October 2008 7:30pm
Thursday 9 October 2008 7:30pm
Friday 10 October 2008 7:30pm
Saturday 11 October 2008 2pm
Saturday 11 October 2008 7:30pm

Venue: The Opera House 
Address: 111-113 Manners Street, Wellington Central  

Adult Premium $69.90, A Reserve $59.90 B Reserve $49.90 C Reserve $39.90
Child (A, B & C Reserve) $39.90
Concession A Reserve $49.90 B and C Reserve $39.90
Group bookings 10+ $49.90
Please note, service fee will apply

Ticketek 04 384 3840 or 0800 TICKETEK

Maria:  Jessica Graham
Captain von Trapp:  Isaac Graham
Baroness Elsa Schraeder:  Merrin Cavel
Leisl:  Alicia Pierson
Mother Abbess:  Malinda Di Leva
Frau Schmidt: Suzie Evans
Rolf:  Benjamin Priest
Franz:  Chris Green
Von Shreiber:  Lloyd Scott
Max:  Stephen Gledhill
Baron Elderfeld:  Rex DaVanzo
Herr Zeller:  Shane McAlister
Gretyl:  Claudia Banas
Marta:  Madeline Horan
Brigitta:  Madeleine Coad
Kurt:  Sam Coad
Louisa:  Juliane Bush
Friedrich:  Felix Sampson
Gretyl:  Georgia Kargar
Marta:  Jessica Gallagher
Brigitta:  Georgia Hemphill
Kurt:  Garth Norman
Louisa:  Freya Milner
Friedrich:  Thomas Roughton
Sister Berthe: Michelle Bush
Sister Sophia:  Jo Eggleton
Sister Catherine:  Trish Butterfield
Sister Agatha:  Hannah Bain
Sister Margaretta:  Philippa Drinkwater
Postulants:  Lucy Sulzberger, Emily Middleton
Nuns:  MaryLouise Thomas, Pip Kayser, Holly Finlayson, Georgina Mathieson, Anna Rowe, Carolyn Woodcock, Catherine Hobbs, Sue Dunlop
Company:  Nick Purdie, Chris Brooks, Martin Brown
Backing Vocalists:  Bronte Fitzgibbon, Claire Williams, Shannon Reynolds, Kate Fausett, Eryn Street, Rose Burrows

Producers:  Wellington Musical Theatre
Choreography Assistance:  Leigh Evans & Keri Mills
Dialect Coach:  Nerissa Moore
Lighting Design:  Mark Hakaraia - Fused-fx
Lighting Operator:  Mark Hakaraia / Gary Kendall - Fused-fx
Sound Design:  Adrian Watts / James Woods - Oceania Audio
Sound Operator:  James Woods
Radio Microphones Matt Bentley, Patrick Landrigan,Vernon Prime
Audio Visual Support:  Aaron King - Fused-fx
Additional Scenic Art:  Marc Hill
Stage Manager:  Keri Mills
Assistant Stage Manager Conal McKone

Head Mechanist:  A-C Wilton - Flying Shackle Ltd
Flyman:  Whareaia Moke / Glen Ayrton
Stage Crew:  Alistair Alcock, Stephen Highnam, Paul Miller, Dean O'Flarrety, Tony Stratford, Sean Cooper, Simon Raughton, Bruce Campbell
Props Crew:  Joanne Kennard, Raewyn Mills
Wardrobe Manager:  Terry Guillemot
assisted by: Jan Bowyer, Tara Browning, Avril DaVanzo, Heather DaVanzo, Rex DaVanzo,
Program Copy:  Emma Blackwell
Program Photography:  Ivor Earp-Jones - Earp-Jones Originals
Printing: Wyatt & Wilson Print
Musical Director / Keyboard Michael Nicholas Williams

Assistant Musical Director/Keyboard Tim Solly
Vector Wellington Orchestra
Violin:  Slava Fainitski
Cello:  Jane Brown
Double Bass:  Richard Slater
Flutes Alex:  Nyman, Mitchell McEwen
Oboe:  Louise Cox
Cor Anglais:  Louise Cox
Clarinets:  Mary Scott, Janina Paulo
Horns:  Caryl Stannard, Abbey Edlin
Trumpets:  Alexis French. David Kempton
Trombone:  Luke Christiansen
Percussion:  Brent Stewart
Keyboards:  Tim Solly, Catherine Norton

Bloom and grow forever

Review by Laurie Atkinson [Reproduced with permission of Fairfax Media] 01st Oct 2008

Every song and every reprise was greeted with enthusiastic applause on Thursday night when Wellington Musical Theatre’s massively promoted production of The Sound of Music opened before a packed (even the gods were open), excited house.

Since 1965 there has been hanging over any production of this old-fashioned, last of all operettas one of the most successful movies in cinema history. Rodgers and Hammerstein opened The Sound of Music with the bells of Nonnberg Abbey ringing the Angelus and the nuns singing Dixit Dominus. Not any longer.

The curtain now rises on an empty stage with the postulant Maria running around a la Julie Andrews singing the title song. It’s not that any production can’t compete with the starchy wholesomeness of Julie Andrews and the purity of her singing; it’s the exhilaration of the sweeping aerial shots of alpine pastures and snowy mountains combined with the music where it is completely trounced. So why remind us we’re not at the movies?

Such is the film’s influence that two songs written for the movie are now in the stage show and neither song is Rodgers at his best and they replace two comic songs that were once a welcome relief for the audience from the children and their aura of sentimentality and for Maria who sings just about every other song.

Yet, it is of course Maria’s show and Jessica Graham presents us with a strong, well-judged, attractively sung performance, lacking a bit in warmth perhaps but that may well be opening night jitters. As a portrait of an emotionally immature young woman seeking love and growing and maturing Jessica Graham succeeds. Maria’s situation is nicely mirrored in Alicia Pierson’s excellent performance as the romantic Liesl.

Captain Von Trapp is played by Isaac Graham who sings Edelweiss with quiet restraint and he makes the autocrat a kindly one though he looks rather young to be the father of seven children, all of whom do look their age and are well-drilled, talented and cute, particularly the youngest. As the Mother Abbess, Malinda Di Leva tackles the enduring and difficult Climb Every Mountain with ease and style, causing the audience to raise the roof after her final note.

The production is well served by the Vector Wellington Orchestra under Michael Nicholas Williams and it is lavishly presented with a large, well costumed cast and though the painted backdrop of the Austrian Alps looks as if it is a left-over from an old touring production of White Horse Inn, the interior scenes are striking.

All in all, a very successful production but I do wonder why the Nazis have to sound as if they have just been hamming it up in ‘Allo, ‘Allo! while all the Austrians speak in perfectly good New Zealand English.


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Fresh production of perennial work

Review by Pepe Becker 26th Sep 2008

What a treat! Right from the first Julie-Andrews-esque "The hills are alive…" to the final "Climb every mountain" curtain call, this production does all the things it should, including bringing the odd tear to the eye. As my friend beside me remarked at one point during the show, some bits "just get you every time, even when you know what’s coming… it’s just one of those things." This has to be Rogers & Hammerstein’s best collaboration ever, and it surely has stood the test of time since the original 1959 stage musical gained world-wide popularity in cinematic form in 1965. That famous film version of "The Sound of Music", starring Julie Andrews, has no doubt been one of the ‘favourite things’ of many a youngster in the past four decades, and, as the programme note said, there wouldn’t be many people alive today in New Zealand who couldn’t finish the line "Do, a deer…" – indeed, I suspect I’ll soon be getting requests from some of my piano students who attend this production, to learn to play that tune!

I must admit to having a touch of end-of-term-itis on opening night, but any thoughts of ‘here we go…this old thing…’ were immediately allayed when the polished band (the Vector Wellington Orchestra, conducted by Michael N Williams) started up and Maria (brilliantly sung and acted by Jessica Graham) burst into her joyous opening number. The musical and dramatic pacing is excellent throughout, Williams moving each number snappily yet smoothly on from the previous one, and the cast exhibiting a real sense of immediacy and flow and… enjoyment in their roles.

The lead couple (a married couple in real life, Jessica and Isaac Graham, as Maria and Captain von Trapp) are stunning – perfectly cast, she with a strong, clear, beautiful voice and lively spirit, with just a touch of melancholy; and he with a confidently rich baritone that reveals a heart-warming vulnerability at times, especially moving in his patriotic "Edelweiss" performance in the Concert Hall scene, just before the family’s secret escape from the clutches of the Third Reich officials.

The children, ah, the children… The cast I saw were absolutely gorgeous, and I must name them all individually, for they really are stars – in age order, oldest to youngest: Alicia Pierson as Liesl, Georgia Hemphill as Brigitta, Thomas Roughton as Friedrich, Freya Milner as Louisa, Jessica Gallagher as Marta, Garth Norman as Kurt and Georgia Kargar as little Gretl. The charming interplay between them and Maria is a delight to see and hear, and they have obviously all worked hard on every aspect that being in a musical entails. Each brings their own flair and personality to their character and they all show mature understanding of the deeper meaning behind some of the words they speak and sing. They are especially lovely in the storm scene, bouncing on the bed with Maria and singing about their favourite things to combat fear of the thundering noises outside; and acquit themselves marvelously in the tricky "Do, Mi, Mi; Mi, So, So; Re, Fa, Fa; La, Ti, Ti…" section of "Do, a deer". On opening night, there were countless other memorable moments from those young ones, including a beautiful "goodbye" high note from Kurt, and a spontaneous joyful wave from Gretl as the curtain came down. Also, the teenage roles of Liesl and Rolf (the postie-turned-Nazi-messenger, played by Benjamin Priest) are beautifully portrayed – both move, sing and act with ease, in completely different guises from their previous characters of Rumpleteazer and Skimbleshanks in Wellington Musical Theatres’ recent production of CATS.

The other main roles are also excellently delivered: Malinda di Leva is strong-voiced and sincere as the Mother Abbess; and Merrin Cavel and Stephen Gledhill give convincing performances as Captain von Trapp’s  almost-bride and friend respectively. Minor roles such as the abbey sisters, Frau Schmidt, Franz, Baron Elderfeld, Herr Zeller and von Schreiber are well done too. In fact, there are no weak players in this show, and no weak moments in delivery.

Special mention must be made about the wonderful scenery, costumes and lighting too: Terry (Terri? – spelled both ways in the programme, but female) Guillemot obviously has a great eye for detail, and the costumes are superb; Keri Mills has seen to it that the scene and prop shifts are perfectly timed, and the scenery itself is beautiful, creating just the right atmosphere – helped by Mark Hakaraia’s sensitive lighting design.

There was the odd minor imperfection on opening night – tuning occasionally pushed sharp (though that could have been due to the odd sound-system issue; perhaps fold-back was not always consistent?  Very occasionally the tone quality of the amplified sound seemed a bit raw and unrounded); somehow the pitch cue wasn’t accurately heard when the children, missing Maria, were singing "My Favourite Things" unaccompanied, resulting in a quick shift down a key when the instruments came back in; and I think maybe I heard the same line twice (something about putting the abbey in danger) in the night-time scene outside the convent near the end – but overall, the show is a resounding success.

The Wellington Musical Theatre, Director Grant Meese, Musical Director Michael N Williams (assisted by Tim Solly) and Executive Producer Michael Highsted – along with the whole team of cast and crew – have much to be proud of. The Sound of Music is something that everyone either knows about or should know about. It’s one of those perennial works that always moves the soul; based-on-truth, a story of love and loyalty, about overcoming obstacles and following one’s dreams – things we can all relate to at various times in global history and in our own lives here in NZ – and this production has a freshness and newness about it, whilst sticking to the integrity of the original. Do get along to see the show – you’re guaranteed to feel uplifted and enlivened by it!


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