Tuesday, 6 August 2013

The Sound of Music, Regents Park Open Air Theatre: Review

Regents Park is one of my favorite venues, its a beautiful setting and is truly magical with the right production. The parks musical this year is the widely loved The Sound of Music, a film most remember from their childhoods. I must admit, I saw the film quite a few years ago and thought it was a little boring. I knew the stage show would be very different because from what I heard this production was very stripped back and was more of a play with the addition of the iconic music than a fluffy musical which, from what I hear, is what other productions have seemed to have portrayed. 
The Sound of Music follows the story of Maria Rainer who is sent from a convent to be the governess the seven children of Captain Von Trapp, after struggling with her relationship with him they finally fall for each other and get married. Set against the backdrop of the Nazi take over this story is very powerful and shows the true meaning of love and family. 
Rachel Kavanaugh’s directs this production and it is very clear that she and the cast understand this story and the background through and through, I love the fairly slow transition that is made in the story from being a love story (almost a fairy tale) to being about the Nazi take over, it ends up to be very powerful and I was totally wrapped up in it. Peter McKintoshs design of the show has some amazing moments, it relies heavily on Tim Mitchell’s lighting design to create the different locations and its beautiful. The only criticism that I have is that I wish the Concert scene could have had a bit more of a dramatic scene change, that is the moment where it turns and I think it was a little underwhelming. 
This production is delightfully beautiful, its very true to the story and the orchestration highlights how wonderful the music of the show is. 
This production has a very youthful feel to it, Charlotte Wakefield and Michael Xaiver Lead the show as Maria Rainer and Captain Von Trapp. Charlotte Wakefield is glorious as Maria (I may be a little bias but I am not a lier!) She brings a very young, naive and innocent feel to the character to start off with which is really nice to watch as the show goes on because you can really see the character grow up and especially near the end of the musical (in the concert scene) you can really see the difference between her portrayal of the character from the beginning to the end. Michael Xaiver manages to balance the strict and loving side of his character very well, I think it could be a very strange transition for an actor to make in his character so quickly but he does it seamlessly. His chemistry with Charlotte Wakefield is fantastic to watch on stage also, its really sweet to watch these two characters discover their love for each other. 
Helen Hobson plays Mother Abbess and although she doesn’t stand out in the production she has the most wonderful relationship with Charlotte Wakefield on stage, its very motherly and she appears to know the character of Maria very well. Her rendition of Climb Every Mountain was a very emotional finish to Act 1, truly heavenly! The children in the show are great, a mention must go out to Imogen Gurney who plays Brigitta brilliantly. Faye Brookes plays a very naive and cute Liesl, even though she looks a little older than she should be she still plays the role very well. 
Elsa Schraeder is played by Caroline Keiff who couldn’t be more perfect for the role, the way she looks and acts the role makes me feel like no one else could play it! Michael Matus provides a lot of comedy to the show as Max Detweller, his onstage relationship with Caroline Keiff is great and their numbers together added something different to the production. 
Joshua Tonks is delightful as Rolf in the beginning, his relationship with Faye Brookes blossoms on stage and the turn in his character is actually very powerful. A mention must go out to Nadine Cox, Helen Walsh and Chloe Taylor whose harmonies were beautiful in How do you Solve a Problem Like Maria? 
Over all this is a beautiful production, Regents Park have really out done themselves with this one. A very special production that is going to be remembered for a long time and every future production will be, and should be, compared to this one. If you do not see this show, you’re missing out on something exceptional. 

Rating: ****

The Sound of Music plays Regents Park Open Air Theatre until the 7th September. Click here to book tickets. 

Cast Includes: Kimberly Blake, Faye Brookes, Helen Colby, Nadine Cox, Samuel Edwards, Tim Frances, Victoria Hinde, Helen Hobson, Christopher D. Hunt, Caroline Keiff, Stuart Matthew Price, Michael Matus, Harry Morrison, Gemma Page, Laura Pick, Anna Simmons, Chloe Taylor, Joshua Tonks, Charlotte Wakefield, Helen Walsh, Terence Wilton, Michael Xavier, Finlay Banks, Matthew Muncey, Jaydon Vijn, Elise Bugeja, Lily Burgering, Mia Jenkins, Alistair Blair, Oliver Breedon, Arthur Gledhill-Franks, Isabelle Allen, Imogen Gurney, Ava Merson-O' Brien, Jaime Adler, Emily Carey, Amybeth McNulty, Gemma Fray, Sarah Huttlestone and Honor Kneafsey. 

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