In the absence of hills, the Haymarket Theatre in Basingstoke is alive with 'The Sound of Music' this fortnight, as BATS, following the success of ‘South Pacific’ earlier this year, have chosen to present another Rodgers and Hammerstein classic. BATS deliver to high professional standards, as their NODA Accolade of Excellence "for last year's 'Annie Get Your Gun' proves.
The story is so familiar that a summary is superfluous but director Ray ]effery made one or two changes which distinguished this production from other run-of-the-mill versions. The biggest difference was the expansion of ‘The Lonely Goatherd’ into a full company number, which gave the otherwise under-used men's chorus a chance to display their thigh-slapping prowess and yodelling ability.
‘My Favourite Things’ was restored to1 the bedroom scene as Maria calmed the children's anxieties during a rather unusual storm - shouldn't lightning precede thunder? The second act included ‘Something Good’, written for the film starring Julie Andrews.
All thoughts of the film vanished, however, as Theresa Lunn lived the part of Maria. The naturalness of her acting and a glorious singing voice dominated the show. Jim Welling was suitably starchy as Captain Von Trapp, albeit with more than a little hint of Professor Higgins. The role of Max was played in sprightly fashion by Robert Isaac who made the most musical contribution to the two trios in which he was involved. As Elsa, Liz Ilett moved well and found just the right tone for a woman who finds herself usurped in the Captain's affections by Maria. I hardly remember the time when I was ‘Sixteen going on Seventeen’ but Bryn Hughes and Emma Finch as Rolf and Liesl captured the joy and pain of young love.
Despite some initial difficulty miming and performing a karaoke version of the opening chorus, the nuns sang well enough at Maria's wedding, even if the strict rules of the Abbey seemed to prohibit smiling. The children, of course came close to stealing the show with their delightfully choreographed routines; especially impressive in the vocal gymnastics of ‘Do-re-mi’ and the mechanical clock movements accompanying ‘So long, farewell’. The final chorus of ‘Climb every mountain’ led by Ann Connolly's Mother Abbess, was uplifting.