maria and children#

Lucy O’Byrne as Maria with the von Trapp children

The Sound of Music

Belgrade Theatre, Coventry


There’s a very good reason that the story of The Sound of Music is held in great affection worldwide, it’s fantastic yet true.

This new production is a miracle. The quality of the music seems to be the focus, the quality of particularly the singing is out of this world. But that isn’t intended to denigrate the acting, the sets and the rest, the production values are simply first-class throughout.

It’s worth remembering at the outset that the stage show is quite different from the film and, in many ways, better. There is more music, with more songs, the set is breathtaking in its simplicity and versatility.

The story? The background is Salzburg during the peaceful Anchluss of March 1938 that combined an unhappy Austria with an empire-building Nazi Germany.

Baron Georg von Trapp (Neil McDermott), a naval hero in the Austrian navy, required to report for duty with the submarine service of the Third Reich, is the father of seven motherless children requiring a governess with strong nerves.

Prospective nun Maria (Lucy O’Byrne) is sent by the Mother Abbess (Megan Llewellyn) to fill the gap. Maria makes outspoken attempts to persuade Captain von Trapp to learn about and love his children and it’s his growing appreciation of their musical talents that provides the drama of the show.

The children in the show are marvellous, three teams, both singing and dancing, reflecting well the range of ages and personalities in the original family. The visit of love interest Elsa Shraeader (Kara Lane) with impresario Max Detweiler (Howard Samuels) from Vienna puts the family in the position where they can escape from Austria into neutral Switzerland helped by the nuns of Maria’s abbey.

It’s a moving story at the best of times but add some of the best quality singing particularly of the nuns (Lucy Miller, Zoe Ann Bown, Tammy Davies) supported by a real orchestra in the pit, but star for me, even over and above the quality of Maria’s voice, was the Mother Abbess (Megan Llewellyn) whose voice could wring tears from a rock.

The packed auditorium gave a standing ovation, couldn’t resist singing along at the overtures, and Climb every Mountain will ring in my ears for a while yet.

This Bill Kenwright production, directed by Martin Connor runs to 10-02-18 then on continues on tour.

Jane Howard


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