The Sound Of Music – Review – Bradford Alhambra
By @Steve Crabtree, February 2020
It’s been running longer than the film. And since 1959 The Sound Of Music has been wowing audiences on the worldwide stage. It arrived in Bradford this week, and I was able to go along to the Alhambra to catch it for the very first time.
I’ve seen the long film, so wasn’t sure if the pace of the touring production would be something that’d appeal to me. However, the story of the Von Trapp family and their soon-to-be step mother Maria certainly flew by in what I thought was a fantastic production.
We had a packed out Alhambra for this one. No surprises given how famous this story is. So the expectation of what we were about to watch was unsurprisingly high. Welcomed by a curtain with that mountainous scene, as it went up we found ourselves in the monastery. It’s here where we’re first introduced to Maria, the aspiring nun, sent as a governess to take care of seven motherless children.
“A very good reflection”
It was a show that moved swiftly and seamlessly. The first act was 90 minutes long, but such was the execution, the time just flew. It twinned a lovely story of togetherness with a political undertone that was, at times, an eye-opener.
Cast wise, we were spoilt. Emilie Fleming did justice to the role of Maria. She’d nailed down the mannerisms, and the timing of the character perfectly. And she provided a sweet voice during famous numbers such as ‘My Favourite Things’ and ‘Do-Ray-Mi’. A very good reflection of the Julie Andrews character, without being an imitation.
Across from her was Andrew Lancel, a magnificent Captain Von Trapp. He took the stern and loving parts of Von Trapp’s personality with aplomb. His touching rendition of ‘Edelweiss’ was quite profound.
I didn’t quite feel the chemistry between the two characters that makes them fall in love though. It was only made obvious by the plot that they had fallen for each other, which was a shame for such an integral part of the storyline. That aside, The Sound Of Music was unfolding delightfully.
Howard Samuels added spots of humour as Max and Nicole Farrar played the role of elder child Liesl very well, and deserves a special mention. There isn’t much in the way of graceful choreography throughout The Sound Of Music, but she floated round the stage nicely during ‘16 going on 17’, with her infatuation, Rolf.
A world renowned musical can’t get away without stunning back drops and an immense quality to the set. And this one was up there with some of the best I’ve seen in the Alhambra over the last couple of years. My friend and I both agreed the grandeur required in all scenes was absolutely on point.
With each element of the show seemingly hitting the spot, I didn’t envisage myself enjoying The Sound Of Music as much as I did. And I think it helps when you find it very hard to hear a song and at least not break in to a hum. We had a broad range of generations in the house tonight, and I’m sure we all knew more of the numbers than we realised.
But for me, the most striking moments of the show came at the end of both acts. Welsh soprano Megan Llewellyn who took the role of Mother Abbess unleashed her incredible voice across the theatre, taking the number ‘Climb Every Mountain’ to a range way and above anyone could have imagined. She imposed herself with power, impact and beauty. With the hairs on the back of the neck standing to attention, that one will stay in the memory for a long time.
The opening night of The Sound Of Music in Bradford slots right in to the charming classic category with ease. I thought it was a wonderfully entertaining show, with a bright and brilliant cast, and the standing ovation at the end showed that most others shared my thoughts.