Review: Regent’s Park is alive with ‘The Sound of Music’

The Sound of Music, Open Air Theatre, Regent’s Park.

As I sat down in the blaring sunshine for two and a half hours of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s feel-good yet tearjerker of a musical, I was more excited than the seven-year-old sitting beside me. When I was her age I would watch the film at least three times a week. I have also played Captain von Trapp in a school production (yes, I went to a girls’ school), so I felt I was well equipped to review the performance.

The background of Regent’s Park was ideal for this show, with Peter McKintosh’s simple design of a house interior with a sweeping staircase, versatile for the abbey and the Von Trapp’s house as well as for the final image of the family venturing off into the hills. Regent’s Park set the scene perfectly, with the family hiding in the shrubbery from the Nazis. There was a moat around the stage, which was used to capture a beautiful moment between Maria and the Captain as he takes off his shoes to dip his toes in the water – Maria has melted the heart of the Captain, as well as those of the audience.

The cast was outstanding. I was overwhelmed by how talented the children were. The choreography and the musical arrangement of ‘Do-Re-Mi’ made the number heart-warming and the entire audience was smiling ear to ear, despite the scorching heat. In particular, Imogen Gurney – who played middle sister Brigitta – was brilliant, with her sly smile when she realises that Maria and her father are in love. The audience couldn’t help but take a liking to her.

Maria Rainer, played by Charlotte Wakefield, was a performance that encapsulated the clumsy, outspoken yet loveable Maria that I have grown up adoring. She showed a perfect combination of vulnerability when dancing the Landler with the Captain, and warmth and childish fun during ‘The Lonely Goatherd’ with the children. Michael Xavier managed to capture the mysteriousness of Captain von Trapp, and his moving performance of ‘Edelweiss’ gradually won the audience over. I’m sure the fact that he was tall, dark and handsome didn’t hurt either…

The sinister, underlying theme of World War Two puts the audience on edge. I wonder with anticipation if the von Trapps will escape the Nazis, despite knowing the plot like the back of my hand. This combination of romance and war creates the perfect musical suitable for men and women from all age groups, and will always be one of ‘My Favourite Things’.

Due to phenomenal demand, the run of this production has been extended until 14 September, so make the most of the last few days of summer by grabbing a ticket to this enchanting performance!

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