The Haymarket will be alive with The Sound of Music this week and next, thanks to Basingstoke Amateur Theatrical Society (BATS).
Talented amateurs are filling its rehearsal rooms and back stage area as they give up their free time to stage a beloved musical for local audiences.
Director and choreographer Martyn Knight, musical director Trevor Defferd and the team’s treatment of the show is a fitting tribute to devoted member of the BATS family Dave Webb, who passed away in July.
The show has been timed to last just the right length and will certainly bring warmth to an autumn evening. Only a very hard heart indeed could resist the appeal of Gretl and co as they march around smiling and merrily singing some of the most popular musical numbers of all time.
It was my privilege to attend a full dress preview, during which I was welcomed by the society, in particular chairman Anthony Mitchell and Annie and Lesley of the pit choir. Alternate Rogers and Hammerstein teams composed of the children, Liesl and Rolf are in operation for the run and I saw the tall and elegant Zoe Morris and the talented Hammerstein bunch, joined by Nick Brannam as Rolf.
Nick directed the society’s last show Little Shop of Horrors and it was lovely to hear him singing again, as he has a terrific voice. He also boasts a fabulous accent as the telegram-delivering young Nazi with a soft spot for Von Trapp’s eldest daughter.
Little Shop’s leading lady Laura Newborough plays Maria, the young novice guided by Mother Abbess (Tracey Gonzato) and placed with the family of Captain Von Trapp (Peter Francis, who has the unenviable task of mastering multiple whistles) to care for his seven children.
Incidentally, Newborough’s young daughter Ella is one of the Gretls, giving them a lovely opportunity to appear on stage working closely together.
But Maria’s opposition is Kirsty Kingham’s fabulously feisty Baroness Schraeder. Kingham has a powerhouse voice and creates that necessary contrast and tension between the two women by communicating that she could quite easily knock Maria out with a microscopic movement of her beautifully arched eyebrows!
Rounding out the key cast are Ian Moseley as the pragmatic Max Detweiler and Abigail Parsons and Colin Webb as the key Von Trapp household staff.
Among many highlights are Do Re Me and its lovely choreography, Laura’s varying expressions as Maria steels herself during I Have Confidence, Myra Ward’s comedic moment as Fraulein Schweiger, Max and the Baroness’ fun How Can Love Survive? and the genuinely moving conclusion as the nuns wave the family off as they commence their journey through the mountains.
Romance, a wedding, action, Nazis and some laughs too - who could ask for more?