A PACKED house was bristling with anticipation at Coventry’s Belgrade Theatre for its opening night of Bill Kenwright’s new 2018 UK touring production of The Sound of Music.
The show – a perennial favourite – needs little introduction, an adaptation of the true story of the world-famous Von Trapp Family Singers, set against the alpine Austrian backdrop at the beginning of WWll.
It marks a return to the iconic role of Maria Von Trapp for Lucy O’Byrne, who first entered the spotlight after becoming a runner-up in BBC 1’s The Voice in 2015.
Hailed by national critics as ‘quite possibly the best Maria since Julie Andrews herself’ it was quite a billing to live up to for her reprisal of the role – especially for this particular critic who lists the musical among her all-time top three shows!
I have exacting standards when it comes to the much-treasured favourite I’ve grown up with – but thankfully both the production and the leading lady did not disappoint.
There were frequent echoes of the great Ms Andrews in O’Byrne’s portrayal. And, whether we mean to or not, we’ll always find ourselves looking for those.
As imposing as the mountains behind her, O’Byrne’s presence filled the stage – and her stunning vocals did full justice to one of the most famous musical scores of all time, including Do-Re-Mi, Favourite Things and The Sound of Music itself.
Megan Llewellyn’s renditions of Climb Ev’ry Mountain brought us a stirring curtain down to both halves of the show in her role as the nurturing Mother Abyss desperately trying to tame the problematic postulant.
The children always steal the spotlight and this was no exception. Special mention to Katie Sherman as Liesl whose romantic dance routine with Jordan Oliver (Rolf Gruber) was a sheer delight.
Five-star performances all-round, except, for me, Neil McDermott (best known formerly as Ryan Malloy in Eastenders) lacked a bit of believability as the aloof naval war hero Captain Vonn Trapp.
All told, I would climb ev’ry mountain to catch this show again. It runs until Saturday and tickets are available on the Belgrade website at: www.belgrade.co.uk