Open Air Theatre, Regent's Park, London
Theatre review: Regent's Park is alive with The Sound of Music
Tuesday 06 August 2013
Regent's Park may be not able to run to an Alpine peak, but the Open Air Theatre in its bosky embrace proves to be a lovely location for this Rodgers and Hammerstein classic in which the presence of the mountains is so strongly felt.
The glades are alive with the sound of music and, wisely eschewing any attempts at gimmicky reworking, Rachel Kavanaugh's revival offers an admirably warm, straightforward and sincerely felt account of its (at times glutinously) sentimental story of nuns and Nazis and a young postulant who brings singing and love back to the motherless, defensively regimented of a widowed naval Captain.
Charlotte Wakefield is winningly headlong, spontaneous and full of life as Maria, hardly seeming much older than a teenager herself at the start and in clear, uncomplicated voice. Her seven charges are played by three rotating sets of child actors and the team I saw were an ideal product of brilliant drilling and bubbling zest, with Imogen Gurney turning in a smart, affecting performance as Brigitta, the insightful 12 year old who notices embarrassing things such as how her nanny and father have fallen in love.
The last time Michael Xavier appeared at this address, he was a suggestively louche Wolf in Into the Woods. He's certainly gone to the opposite extreme now; his Captain von Trapp may be handsome and imposing but he's so stiff with rectitude throughout as to seem incapable of unbending into romance, even (or especially) when discarding his shoes and socks to join Maria for a mutual dunking of feet in the water trough during “Something Good”.
Peter McKintosh's clever circular set serves, with minimal changes, as the abbey (Helen Hobson is in soaring form for “Climb Ev'ry Mountain"), the Captain's estate and the concert hall where, with Nazi banners unfurled and gun-wielding storm-troopers stationed round the audience, the production creates a genuine atmosphere tension and menace when the von Trapp family use their performance at the Salzburg Festival as a camouflage for escape.
The stage version makes more than the film of the political strains within Austria at the time of the Anschluss and Michael Matus, as the comically opportunistic impresario Max, and Caroline Keif's worldly, calculating Elsa bring out all the queasy jauntiness (“You may be bent on deeds of derring-do/But up against a shark what would a herring do?”) in “No Way to Stop It” their duet advocating appeasement. Recommended.
To Sept 7; 0844 826 4242
film Sex scene trailer sees a shirtless Jamie Dornan turn up the heat
Maisie Williams single-handedly rises to the challengeTV
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Venezuela Expo Tattoo 2015: Extreme body art from 'Vampire Woman' to 109mm earlobes
- 2 Saudi preacher who 'raped and tortured' his five -year-old daughter to death is released after paying 'blood money'
- 3 Ball pool for adults opens in London
- 4 Amal Clooney gives excellent response to fashion question at European Court of Human Rights
- 5 Canadian woman suing police who locked her in van with sex offender who then raped her
Venezuela Expo Tattoo 2015: Extreme body art from 'Vampire Woman' to 109mm earlobes
Game of Thrones really doesn't want Danny Dyer - EastEnders star rejected three times
Game of Thrones season 5 trailer: The first full-length look is here
Sia apologises for 'Elastic Heart' music video that sees Shia LaBeouf wrestle 12-year-old Maddie Ziegler
The secret joke hidden in Silence of the Lambs' most famous line
9 reasons Greece's experiment with the radical left is doomed to failure
Have we reached 'peak food'? Shortages loom as global production rates slow
Greece elections: Syriza and EU on collision course after election win for left-wing party
Stephen Fry explains what he would say if he was 'confronted by God'
British grandmother Lindsay Sandiford faces execution by firing squad in Indonesia
Liberal Democrat minister defends comments suggesting immigration causes pub closures