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“The Sound of Music”

I enjoyed this version of The Sound of Music – it had all the elements of a good show, was spot on musically, and although traditional in its concept – the cast gave us some lovely moments in a strong show.

The set was a little bland – in that the backcloth to the garden and house was a white cloth – it would have been nice to see something there to add a backing to the set, which was good.  I liked the stained glass window for the Abbey and the windows projected for the Abbey Corridor.  I just felt the garden and house were a little lacking in dressing and props.  

The opening was nicely thought-out with the nuns coming through the Hall, and throughout the ensemble singing was beautiful – bearing out the fact that HLOS’s chorus is one of the best around.  The balance between the voice parts was very good, and we could hear everything very clearly, which was a testament to the experience of the sound guy, Stuart Barry.  Sound is difficult in the Public Halls, but it all worked extremely well.

I know this is Les Arnold’s favourite show, and he didn’t disappoint, with a good band, and well-coached cast.

The children (the Red Team on the night I attended), were super – very believable and confident – again sound was excellent, so we didn’t miss anything.  There were some lovely characterisations, I particularly liked Alexander Van Weezel as Kurt – his face was most expressive the whole time.  It is always a shame that the reviewer can’t see both teams of children – but I am assured the Blue team was as good, but different – which is always good for the adult cast!!  Keeps them on their toes.

I was impressed with the fresh looking and smart costumes, the children all looked good, nothing out of place, so well done to them and to the costume and hair dressing team.

Isobel Handley gave Maria a lovely down to earth feel – which made her very believable and created a good foil to the Captain and the Nuns.  Izzy sang the part beautifully and I liked the slightly naive other-worldly quality that she injected into the part.

I really enjoyed the Nuns (Gill Pegram, Kay Ward and Janet Wade) singing Maria – they got some energy into it, without it being too every day – they kept the characters but gave it expression.  I loved Joanna Nolan’s Mother Abbess, she had life and compassion, without being too full on – and Climb Ev’ry Mountain was absolutely beautiful.  Because of the restrictions of singing in a wimple, everything relies on face and eyes, and these 4 ladies made it interesting to watch and lovely to listen to.

Julian Wathen was perhaps a little too understanding as Captain Von Trapp, I felt he needed a little more asperity in his dealings with the children – but when he was singing with them you really got the feeling of a loving family.  It was also good to have a Captain who could do justice to Eidelweiss.

I liked Matt Clothier’s Max, he injected the humour into the relationship with Georg and Elsa, and I liked the two numbers with Elsa, which they both delivered well and managed to make fun.

Colette Eagles was a very sophisticated and elegant Elsa, with some beautiful costumes, and creating a complete contrast to Maria – so that we could admire Elsa, but somehow not quite like her or want her to be mother to those lovely children!!  A very good portrayal.

David Crew was a very frightening Herr Zeller – with the uniform helping to enhance the menace created in the way he delivered his lines.

Ian Fox and Jo Bayne as Franz and Frau Schmidt, both needed to project a little more, but good characterisations.

Jack Jennings created a good Rolf, showing the immaturity of the boy.  He and Liesl performed Sixteen Going on Seventeen very well, and Jack showed good understanding of partnering and dancing with a young lady!  He also sang very well.  Maddie Johnson was a delightful Liesl, and I thought these two had a good on-stage relationship, I really believed Lisel’s confusion when Rolf betrayed where his loyalties were placed.

I wanted the end to have more menace, it seemed a shame that those German uniforms and the atmosphere they and the men could have created while the search lights were strafing the stage, was an opportunity missed, it would have given so much more meaning and dimension to the undoubted threat that was there.

There were some lovely moments, The Lonely Goatherd was utterly charming – and kept very simple which was so good to see, not trying to make it something it wasn’t.  The transition into the ballroom scene shown through the gauze was also very pleasing on the eye and the senses.

The Nuns were very tuneful, and also managed to get expression into the lusic, again difficult when there is no use of hands etc.

So, all in all a very good production, that was pleasing on the eye and the ear, giving the audience a chance to sit back and enjoy themselves thoroughly.

Harpenden Light Opera Society

SOUND OF MUSIC” review date: 11th Oct 2013

at Harpenden Public Halls

Director: Katherine Barry

MD: Les Arnold

Choreographer: Joyce Smith  


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