Review: The Sound of Music
Taking on one of the most famous roles in musical theatre, Maria in The Sound of Music, Verity Rushworth has some big shoes to fill, those of Julie Andrews. But they are the perfect fit.
At Norwich Theatre Royal for two weeks direct from the West End, this production has been heaped with critical acclaim and deserves every plaudit.
It may be more than 50 years since the show debuted on Broadway, but it's not showing any signs of age.
From the moment she first appears on stage, perched on a mountain singing the spine-tingling famous title song, you know that Rushworth is the ideal guardian for such a beloved role.
And she captures the spirit of the character completely.
Inspired by true events and set in Austria against the backdrop of one of the most turbulent periods in Europe's history, Maria, a novice who really doesn't suit a wimple (the other nuns comment that she's been known to wear hair rollers underneath it), and 'headache...angel...girl' is sent to become the governess for the seven Von Trapp children in the hope that the 'problem' will be solved.
After winning their hearts with her joie de vivre, and fashioning them some new clothes out of old curtains, she then captures the heart of their widower father, played by Robin of Sherwood and Dynasty star Michael Praed.
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His transformation from a cold disciplinarian who summons his children with a whistle and thinks that marching is the best form of exercise to a man who allows himself to have feelings and take pleasure in the world again warms the cockles.
The children were pitch perfect, had spot-on comic timing (Do-Re-Mi is one of the most joyous numbers I've ever seen in the theatre) and were impossibly cute.
And special mention must be made of Marilyn Hill Smith who plays the Mother Abbess.
In full voice, you really believe she could Climb Ev'ry Mountain.
Of course the songs are the reason for this musical's enduring appeal, and this is Rodgers and Hammerstein at their absolute best: My Favourite Things, I Have Confidence, So Long, Farewell... each is an absolute classic.
An absolute triumph, the show had members of the crowd on their feet. Here's to another 50 years of The Sound of Music.
t The Sound of Music is at Norwich Theatre Royal until August 20.