The Sound of Music continues at Curve, Leicester until 17 January 2015.
Laura Pitt-Pulford’s Maria in Rodgers and Hammerstein’s The Sound of Music whirls round tree trunks and straps a guitar on her back to cycle away from the Abbey. So when, head held high, she sings ‘I Have Confidence in Me’, it has force as well as fluency and charm. Director Paul Kerryson even slips in a dancing quartet of girls in dirndls and boys in lederhosen to see her off.
She draws herself up to her full height and stands her ground from the start with Michael French’s mellifluous Captain Von Trapp, whose better side is also detectable beneath the stern correctness of his exterior. This is a gloriously energetic production (choreography is by Drew McOnie) that sees Maria and the children physically bouncing on the bed during the thunderstorm, and in which the dance between Liesl (Emma Harrold) and Rolf (Jack Wilcox) has glitz and vigour about it but also the beauty of a pas de deux.
This is Kerryson’s swansong at Curve and every detail is honed to perfection. The Abbey scenes – powerfully Catholic, to the backdrop of a giant panel depicting a Renaissance Annunciation – are all slow, studied movement, impeccably sung plainsong and soaring sacred music. Lucy Schaufer excels as Mother Abbess, reaching that final high note of ‘Climb Ev’ry Mountain’ with a power and confidence that brings huge applause.
It’s a stellar cast altogether, with a very impressive cast of children. They sing all their numbers with warmth and expression, speak clearly and have a natural rapport with Pitt-Pulford, whose Maria comes back to them from honeymoon with a new maturity. Her wedding is visually stunning on Curve’s enormous stage. A delectably elegantly dressed Emma Clifford is well matched with Mark Inscoe as the outsiders, Baroness Schraeder and Max Dettweiler, and the production is well served by the ten-piece orchestra led by musical director Ben Atkinson. Altogether stunning.