Lucy O’Byrne returns to the stage as Maria in Bill Kenwright’s heartwarming production that had the audience in the palm of its hand from the moment the curtain lifted.
As one of the highest grossing movies of all time, The Sound of Music has been enjoyed both on screen and stage by millions ever since the musical show made its debut in 1959, followed by the iconic movie starring the legendary Julie Andrews in 1965.
Having found success on its previous tour where it visited Birmingham Hippodrome in 2016, The Sound of Music has returned to the city this week, running at the New Alexandra Theatre until Saturday. Lucy O’Byrne has once again stepped into the shoes of Maria, who is sent away from the abbey to become governess to the adorable Von Trapp children, played by an incredibly talented cast of youngsters.
Runner-up in The Voice, O’Bryne has made her mark in the world of theatre, having starred in the West End playing Fantine in Les Miserables, and certainly doesn’t disappoint in delivering sensational vocals in her opening number, The Sound of Music.
Fans of the film will notice slight changes in the stage production. There’s an addition of numbers that never made the movie such as No Way To Stop It, which is understandable as they don’t appear to add any further depth to what already is a strong and much-loved classical storyline. The order of songs is switched too, and although it may come as a surprise, it doesn’t take away from the talent that lays within this strong cast.
Eastender’s star Neil McDermott takes on the role of silver-haired Captain Von Trapp, a character of who has been through much after losing his wife and breaking off his engagement with Baroness Schraeder (Kara Lane). Although during parts it felt like McDermott let Von Trapp’s guard down a little too soon, his performance of the stunning Edelweiss was packed with emotion, and you can’t fault his vocals.
Praises must be given to both Kara Lane and Howard Samuels (Max) who both brought bags of personality to their roles. Lane works brilliantly as the ever-so-classy Baroness Schrader, and her hints of bitterness towards Maria are just subtle enough to make you want to cheer when she leaves Captain Von Trapp. It would be wrong of me not to mention the spectacular, Megan Llewellyn (Mother Abbess) whose outstanding vocals deserved a standing ovation alone for Climb Every Mountain.
The Von Trapp children too were simply magnificent. All of them brought a wonderful sense of charm and innocence to their role and worked together beautifully for So Long, Farewell, Do-Re-Mi and The Lonely Goatherd. Katie Shearman gave a lovely performance as the eldest Von Trapp, Leisl, and showed off both impressive vocals and dance skills in Sixteen Going On Seventeen.
Gary McCann’s set design is beautifully designed and structured, with clean changes between the abbey and the luxury Von Trapp house which does boast the grand staircase for the classic So Long, Farewell. Whilst a vast majority of this production shone from beginning to end, it did feel like some parts were a little more dragged out than they needed to be. Act One felt like it could’ve been drawn to a close just a touch earlier, but that being said it was an absolute delight to watch, with moments that had the audience singing and clapping along.
A feel-good show that will leave you exiting the theatre with a smile, it’s hard not to fall in love with this classic that I’m sure will continue to win over its audience for years to come.