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The Hills Are Alive

By Jarrod 14 Sep 2014

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The Sound of Music was the last musical Rodgers and Hammerstein wrote together, and it’s arguably the most enduring - possibly due to the massive success of the film adaptation starring Julie Andrews.

Since its Broadway debut in 1959 there have been numerous revivals - in recent years most notably a UK version for which the lead role of Maria was cast via a reality TV show, and a US television version that was broadcast live-to-air. The production that’s made its way to New Zealand shores is a descendant of that UK version, even sharing a cast member - soprano Lesley Garrett, who plays the Mother Abbess.

Apart from Garrett, and Mark Rayment, who plays Captain von Trapp, much of the core cast are fresh from a South African production of the show; this Sound of Music is a professional and well-oiled machine, with faultless vocal performances that are sure to please any die-hard fans of the film. Don’t worry, however, there’s a definite New Zealand flavour to the show, too: all the younger von Trapp children are local kids cast especially for this production (and they’re all great, too - even if it’s a little odd to occasionally hear notes of a Kiwi accent from supposed Austrians…).

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If, like me, your memory of the movie is a little hazy, you’ll no doubt find yourself transported back in time by the familiar songs - probably including a few that you didn’t even realise you knew. This version includes a couple of songs written especially for the film version, but the plot hews closely to the original musical, which differs from the movie in a couple of ways - most notably with regards to Liesl’s Nazi paramour, Rolf.

It’s all great fun, and surprisingly comedic, with some well-timed moments of comic relief. I was expecting to be somewhat cynical about the whole thing, but I thoroughly enjoyed it, and the rest of the audience, young and old, certainly seemed to share my view.

The Sound of Music runs at the St James until 28 September 2014.

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