Stars explained: * A production of no real merit with failings in all areas. ** A production showing evidence of not enough time or effort, or even talent, and which never breathes any real life into the piece – or a show lumbered with a terrible script. *** A good enjoyable show which might have some small flaws but has largely achieved what it set out to do.**** An excellent show which shows a great deal of work and stage craft with no noticeable or major flaws.***** A four star show which has found that extra bit of magic which lifts theatre to another plane.
Half stars fall between the ratings

Scaling the musical heights

The Sound of Music

The Arcadians

Crescent Theatre, Birmingham


I AM pretty sure most people know the story of The Sound of Music and even if you have only ever seen the film version then that’s good enough. There are few additions and changes within this stage production by The Arcadians but overall it remains pretty much unchanged.

The company clearly have had great fun in staging this lavish production with multiple scene changes, what seems like hundreds of costumes and a 12 piece orchestra, the latter under the capable musical direction of Lauren Coles.

Gabby Thomson took on the mammoth task of Maria and did a great job of supplying a secure level of confidence to the younger members of the cast through her performance. Her voice was controlled throughout and handled the songs with ease.    All the Von Trapp children seemed capable and well-cast with little Megan Best stealing the show as the tiny Gretl with her totally `cute’ appeal.

Captain Von Trapp was played by David Mann who at times seemed a little too controlled and rarely seemed to smile but otherwise delivered the role of the austere commander again with a calm confidence.

One of the nicest scenes was 16 going on 17 featuring Bronwen Collins- Jones as Liesl and Chris Cahill as Rolf. The couple included a nice dance routine choreographed by Chloe Turner which gave the pair an opportunity to show what they were capable of.

The role of The Mother Abress was played by the very experienced Claire Vaughan and the towering song Climb Every Mountain was powerfully delivered by her, faltering only slightly on the last two big notes.

The Arcadians have plenty of support as the cast swelled in numbers for the Von Trapps party and the final chorus.

Musically the score was well performed to a very high standard for an amateur production and the correlation between the score and onstage action was well executed.

The Arcadians under the Directorship of Sonya Williams have obviously set the bar very high here but overall I would have like have liked to see the whole performance with a little more energy as on the whole it felt safe. This was probably a result of first night nerves and the want to get things right and will no doubt improve over subsequent performances.

A final mention must be given to Ruth Peaker who signed the whole performance for those with hearing difficulties. As an important and often overlooked role, she worked extremely hard for the entire evening and beautifully interpreted these emotional songs in a way that added an additional level of visual entertainment to a solid and entertaining production of this timeless musical. To 23-11-13

Jeff Grant 

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