The Sound of Music continues at the Lyceum Theatre, Sheffield until 14 February, and then tours until 1 August.
Star rating: 3 stars ***
The seven hills of Sheffield are alive to Rodgers and Hammerstein’s The Sound of Music as Bill Kenwright’s new production comes to the Lyceum Theatre. It is billed as a new staging of the the musical, but fans of the actress Julie Andrews and the movie will be pleased to know that it doesn’t stray too far from the iconic 1960s film.
It’s four years since Danielle Hope took on the demanding role of Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz at the age of 18 (having won the BBC’s Over the Rainbow talent search). Now she becomes Maria Rainer, bringing a freshness and innocence to her performance. The actress’ relationship with the children playing the Von Trapp brood is particularly strong.
Steven Houghton is Captain Von Trapp. A seasoned musical theatre performer, he struts about the stage for much of the show. There is, though, an underlying softness to his performance which comes to the fore when he sings. This is especially evident as the Nazis close in during the Salzburg Festival and his voice breaks as he sings ‘Edelweiss’.
Howard Samuels, as Max Detweiler, adds mischievous fun to the proceedings – but it is the Von Trapp children and the Mother Abbess who draw the biggest applause of the night. Jan Hartley, as the Mother Abbess, brings Act I to an emotional crescendo with ‘Climb Ev’ry Mountain’.
Nineteen youngsters share the Von Trapp children roles in this new staging (Martin Connor directs). There were three that stood out on this occasion. Grace Chapman, in the role of Liesl, has a beautifully pure voice and shares a moment of magic with Luke George, as Rolf, when they sing ‘Sixteen Going On Seventeen’.
Isabelle Methven is delightfully impish in her role as Brigitta, and the audience instantly falls in love with little Hanna Zienkiewicz, playing Gretl, the youngest Von Trapp child.
But all the children show remarkable timing as they step, dance and wish everyone goodnight from the huge staircase that dominates the Von Trapp family home set.
The scene changes were for the most part smooth, but there was an unfortunate moment towards the end of the evening when part of a backdrop became tangled. Thankfully, it didn’t seem to faze the actors.
If you want to see Danielle Hope playing Maria at the Lyceum you’ll need to move quickly. The show runs until 14 February, but due to pre-contractual obligations, Hope will only be in Sheffield until 7 February. In her absence, the role of Maria will be played by Jessica Daley.