Friday 30 September 2016

The Sound of Music at Bord Gais Energy Theatre review - 'after 56 years it's still a barking, bonkers delight'

Published 19/08/2015 | 11:32

Danielle Hope who plays Maria von Trapp and Steve Houghton as Captain von Trapp ahead of the opening night of The Sound of Music at the Bord Gais Energy Theatre
Danielle Hope who plays Maria von Trapp and Steve Houghton as Captain von Trapp ahead of the opening night of The Sound of Music at the Bord Gais Energy Theatre
Danielle Hope who plays Maria von Trapp and Steve Houghton as Captain von Trapp ahead of the opening night of The Sound of Music at the Bord Gais Energy Theatre
Danielle Hope who plays Maria von Trapp and Steve Houghton as Captain von Trapp ahead of the opening night of The Sound of Music at the Bord Gais Energy Theatre
Danielle Hope who plays Maria von Trapp and Steve Houghton as Captain von Trapp ahead of the opening night of The Sound of Music at the Bord Gais Energy Theatre

Nazis, singing nuns, children in miniature sailor suits  – 56 years since its Broadway debut Rodgers and Hammerstein's final musical remains a barking, bonkers delight.

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The fruity sensibility of the original – and of the 1965 Julie Andrews movie – is faithfully preserved in Martin Connor's new production, with Mother Superiors bursting into glass-shattering song, a goose-stepping messenger boy giving enthusiastic Heil Hitler salutes and Danielle Hope as Maria, the annoying nanny who never leaves home – or, for that matter, goes to bed – without her anachronistic hippy guitar.

The secret to enjoying Sound of Music is surrendering your cynicism at the coat-stand. What's the point in scoffing at the unconvincing slow-burn romance between Maria and the stentorian Captain Von Trapp (Coronation Street's Steven Houghton) – or rolling your eyes at the troupe of stage school Little Miss and Master Perfects cast as his children? Instead, you must submit to the relentless perkiness, allow yourself be swept along by the buffet of cheese-based singalong numbers. My Favourite Things, Maria, Do-Re-Mi – so firmly are these frothy concoctions imprinted in our consciousness it's impossible not to feel a tingle of nostalgic recognition upon hearing them again.

As Maria, Hope is a mix of bubbly and bolshy – Julie Andrews with a pinch of Taylor Swift. Houghton's Captain Von Trapp, in contrast, appears to have parachuted in from a revival of Jeeves and Wooster. Indeed, though the setting is ostensibly pre-Anschluss Austria, the plummy  ambiance is pure Pimms-on-the-lawn Edwardian England. Still, the pace is crisp and the sets – a tableaux of gilded ballrooms and stormy buttresses – stunning. Anyone who grew up with the movie will find this retelling a giddy, gaudy lark.

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