Leeds Grand Theatre *****
Bill Kenwright’s lavish new production has rebranded and revitalised the tired musical putting back the glamour, emotion and spectacle that it truly deserves.
Director Martin Connor has left no stone unturned in creating the atmosphere of pre-war Austria in a production that moves seamlessly along with amazing sets that skilfully transform from one spectacular scene to another.
It is a sweet and sugary story still, but this production has spirit, heart and is filled with powerful emotion especially in the wedding scene which is played to perfection.
As Maria Rainer, Danielle Hope puts her own stamp on the role avoiding the usual trap of being a Julie Andrews clone. She’s spirited, feisty yet naïve. Jan Hartley’s Mother Abbess has a wonderful sympathetic, motherly touch to it and her Climb Every Mountain, closing the first half, is the powerful highlight of the show. And Luke George (Rolf) and Grace Champman (Liesl) are a match made in heaven. Steven Houghton’s, von Trapp is a tad too weak in the early stages somehow it’s hard to imagine him as a stern disciplinarian he’s just too nice but as the show progresses he comes into his own especially in the final scenes. Completing the cast is Sarah Soetaert as a very believable millionaires and Howard Samuels who injects comedy into the plot as Max.
Along with some fabulously well drilled von Trapp children and a powerfully vocal ensemble of nuns and cameo roles the show has a dream-team of performers.