Friday, October 26, 2012
The Sound Of Music -Review- Whitley Bay Playhouse
Whitley Bay Playhouse
I love regional theatre, and tonight's performance of The Sound of Music under the auspices of Day8Productions at the Whitley Bay Playhouse, left me and the rest of the audience delighted. The show was a challenge in many respects; being so well known, but also due to the fact that it was Karen Knox's debut as a director after working in other roles for many years. Her attention to detail shone through, and the show felt fresh and renewed.
All too often I see "clumps" of chorus on set, but in this production, each scene flowed beautifully with some very thoughtful and sensitive direction. There was good use of the whole stage, and the actor's faces were where they should be in -out front and smiling. The sets were imaginatively designed, and I particularly liked the abbey scenes, where the stained glass windows "floated" against a black backdrop. The nuns were brilliant and the four main voices in the Maria number were simply superb. If I closed my eyes I could have been listening to the CD, the voices had a blend of power and purity. Special mentions must go to Alisa Taylor for her believable role as Mother Abbess, and Charlotte May (Sister Sophia) who I am sure we will see in London's West End before long.
Maria was played by Helen Cash, who gave a superbly polished performance in every respect. A seasoned performer, Helen's singing and acting skills left the audience spellbound. Gary MacKinnon played the part of Captain Von Trapp very well, and pleased the audience with his live guitar during the "Edelweiss" number.
The part of the gushing Baroness Shraeder was played brilliantly by Marie Swan. Her acting was some of the best I have seen on stage for many years. Playing the part of a beguiling future wife for the Captain, Marie captured the humour, elegance, and sophistication the part demanded and her voice just oozed clarity and depth. Teaming up in most of her scenes was the more than capable Alex Swan, who played the humourously camp part of Max Detweller to perfection. His comic timing was excellent.
Rolf, played by Jonathan Bulloch, shone through as a future star of the local theatre scene, with impeccable diction throughout. Leisl was played by Jemima Rose, who also looks set for further on stage success after playing and singing her part in a wonderfully relaxed and confident style. The harmonies in their ' Sixteen going on Seventeen' number were beautiful . The rest of the Von Trapp children gave a well rehearsed and polished performance, with each and every one of them clearly chosen for their considerable acting skills and excellent stage presence. 'Do-re-mi', 'The Lonely Goatherd' and 'So Long Farewell', were performed to a truly professional standard. Well done to them all, they really brought their parts to life and reminded me so much of the movie. The part of housekeeper Frau Schmidt came across well, with Tracey Clough playing a convincing role.
There were also some delightful cameo roles in the show, with Carol Barker and Joe Costigan playing the parts of Baron and Baroness Elberfeld to much amusement. Graham Wade played a suitably intimidating Nazi in his role of Herr Zeller, and Amy Mcormack did very well in her part as Frau Zeller.
First nights never go without a glitch, and yes, there were one or two technical issues, mainly with lighting and scene changes. However, the sound was fantastic throughout, with every word perfectly audible. The costumes were very well made, and I particularly liked the outfits made from " curtains" after Maria arrived to work in the Von Trapp household. The nuns habits were also incredibly realistic. The orchestra played well, but I couldn't help but think there should have been more stringed instruments, as the piano should never dominate in the way it had to. My only real gripe however, (there has to be one ) was that local accents in certain parts of the show were too obvious but I am sure these can be toned down for this and future shows.
Ultimately, this show is a favourite of mine, and the whole cast, Karen Knox and her in-house choreography team did brilliantly from start to finish. I wish them a successful run and look forward to seeing more productions from the same team.
The Sound Of Music runs until October 27th