The Sound of Music

Date 24th October 2019
Society Tavistock Musical Theatre Company
Venue Tavistock Town Hall
Type of Production Musical
Director Julian J Bennett
Musical Director Rosemary Fox
Choreographer Patti Stott

Report

Author: Gareth Davies

The Sound of Music

Date

Thursday 24th October 2019

Company

Tavistock Musical Theatre Company

Venue

Tavistock Town Hall

Type of Production

Musical

Director

Julian J Bennett

Musical Director

Rosemary Fox

Choreographer

Patti Stott

Report

Following last year’s ‘The King and I’ the West Devon hills were alive with ‘The Sound of Music’ this autumn when TMTC brought their second consecutive Rodgers and Hammerstein musical to life in Tavistock. Performing to sell-out audiences, the performance I attended was a full house. It is so good to see this company in a healthy position again, on and off stage.  

The musical opened with a lovely rendition of ‘Dixit Dominus’ sung well by the nuns and led by The Mother Abbess, Olwen Keates, who also gave a beautifully moving rendition of ‘Climb Every Mountain’, hitting her higher notes perfectly, with a gorgeous line to her voice.  Maria, played by Anna Dunford, gave a wonderful performance, singing the many well-known classics.  I especially enjoyed ‘Do-Re-Mi’ and ‘The Lonely Goatherd’. There were issues with her microphone throughout the performance, which was a shame. I hope the sound technician attended to this for the final three performances!

Timothy Waine as Captain Georg von Trapp came over well, powerful and upright - just as the naval officer should be – with a likeable personality and a glint in his eye. Anna and Tim worked well together. 

Also working well were Jackie Bowen as a sophisticated Elsa and Malcolm Rowe as Max – giving a flamboyant, fun and effervescently camp performance! Much of the comedy and humour was found in his interpretation of Max, along with the eccentric characterisation of the butler Franz by Tim Farmer.

The chorus sounded good with some great harmony singing – it was a joy to listen to the nuns throughout the evening – clearly a lot of hard work had been devoted in rehearsals to singing this challenging quasi-religious music.

Of course, I must mention the wonderful group of juveniles/children in the production led by Charlotte Harris as Liesl and Jacob Hopkins as Rolf. They all worked, acted and sang so well together. A joy to watch always. The relationship between Liesl and Rolf was believable, subtle and tenderly played. Well done to both young actors and the director for finding these performances.

I have to say that the ending of the show was a little anti-climactic in its staging.  The family head off to a new life in Switzerland, as the nuns reprise ‘Climb Every Mountain’, but for me the impact of this moment was lost as the Von Trapps exited through the audience and the final tableau of nuns on stage simply faded to black. The running time was too long: R&H shows, along with most shows of that era, were written for different times when audiences would anticipate sitting through three-hour shows, but that is not the case in the 21st century. It was interesting to hear the songs which are not usually included, ‘How Can Love Survive’ and ‘No Way to Stop It’, but they added to an already long show. I would have advised cuts to the script and score, with approvals from the licence holders of course, especially if included extra material! In my experience, when songs, dialogue or scenes have been cut by the original production team there are usually good reasons for it. 

Directed by Julian J Bennett with Rosemary Fox as Musical Director and Patti Stott as choreographer, the production values were good, especially the many costumes – again provided by the talented Patti Stott. The set design was simple but effective – managing the range of scenes in this big musical on a small stage is no easy feat! (Sometimes the stage crew needed to double check their scenery was accurate for the scene change.)

Congratulations to you all for an enjoyable production of this R&H classic. Will you make it a trio next year?

 

Gareth Davies

NODA South West District 3