In Salzburg, Austria, just before World War II, nuns from Nonnberg Abbey sing the Dixit Dominus. One of the postulants, Maria Rainer, is on the nearby mountainside regretting leaving the beautiful hills ("The Sound of Music") where she was raised. She returns late. The Mother Abbess and the other nuns consider what to do about her ("Maria"). Maria explains her lateness, saying she was raised on that mountain, and also apologizes for singing in the garden without permission. The Mother Abbess joins her in song ("My Favorite Things"). The Mother Abbess tells her that she should spend some time outside the abbey to decide whether she is ready for the monastic life. She will act as the governess to the seven children of widower Captain Georg von Trapp.
Maria arrives at the villa of Captain von Trapp, a decorated World War I Captain of the Austro-Hungarian Navy. He explains her duties and summons the children with a boatswain's call. They march in, clad in uniforms. He teaches her their individual signals on the call, but she openly disapproves of this militaristic approach. Alone with them, she breaks through their wariness and teaches them the basics of music ("Do-Re-Mi"). Rolf, a young messenger, delivers a telegram and then meets with the oldest child, Liesl, outside the villa. He claims he knows what is right for her because he is a year older than her ("Sixteen Going on Seventeen"). They kiss, and he runs off, leaving her screaming with joy. Meanwhile, the housekeeper, Frau Schmidt, gives Maria material to make new clothes, as she had given all her possessions to the poor. She sees Liesl slipping in through the window, wet from a sudden thunderstorm, but agrees to keep her secret. The other children are frightened by the storm. Maria sings "The Lonely Goatherd" (replaced by "My Favorite Things" in the movie) to distract them.
Captain von Trapp arrives a month later with Elsa Schrader and Max Detweiler. Elsa tells Max that something is preventing the Captain from marrying her. He opines that only poor people have the time for great romances ("How Can Love Survive"). Rolf enters, looking for Liesl, and greets them with "Heil". The Captain orders him away, saying that he is Austrian, not German. Maria and the children leapfrog in, wearing playclothes that she made from old drapes. Infuriated, the Captain sends them off to change. She tells him that they need him to love them, and he angrily orders her back to the abbey. As she apologizes, they hear the children singing "The Sound of Music", which she had taught them, to welcome Frau Schrader. He joins in, and he then embraces them. Alone with Maria, he asks her to stay, thanking her for bringing music back into his house. Elsa is suspicious of her until she explains that she will be returning to the abbey in September.
The Captain gives a party to introduce Elsa, and guests argue over the Anschluss. Kurt asks Maria to teach him to dance the Ländler. When he is unable to negotiate a complicated figure, the Captain steps in to demonstrate. He and Maria dance until they come face-to-face, and she breaks away, embarrassed and confused. Discussing the expected marriage between Elsa and the Captain, Brigitta tells her that she and the Captain are really in love with each other. Elsa asks him to let the children say goodnight to the guests with a song, "So Long, Farewell". Max is amazed at their talent and wants them for the Kaltzberg Festival, which he is organizing. The guests leave for the dining room, and Maria slips out the front door with her luggage.
At the abbey, Maria says that she is ready to take her monastic vows; but the Mother Abbess realizes that she is running away from her feelings. She tells her to face the Captain and discover if they love each other, and that, by searching for it, she must find the life she was meant to live ("Climb Ev'ry Mountain").
Max teaches the children how to sing on stage. When the Captain tries to lead them, they complain that he is not doing it as Maria did. He tells them that he has asked Elsa to marry him. They try to cheer themselves up by singing "My Favorite Things", but are unsuccessful until they hear Maria singing on her way to rejoin them. Learning of the wedding plans, she decides to stay only until the Captain can arrange for another governess. Max and Elsa argue with him about the imminent Anschluss, trying to convince him that it is inevitable ("No Way to Stop It"). When he refuses to compromise, Elsa breaks off the engagement. Alone, he and Maria finally admit their love, desiring only to be "An Ordinary Couple". As they marry, the nuns reprise "Maria" against the wedding processional.
During the honeymoon, Max prepares the children to perform at the Kaltzberg Festival. Herr Zeller, the Gauleiter, demands to know why they are not flying the flag of the Third Reich now that the Anschluss has occurred. The Captain and Maria return early from their honeymoon before the Festival. In view of developments, he refuses to allow the children to sing. Max argues that they would sing for Austria, but the Captain points out that it no longer exists. Maria and Liesl discuss romantic love; Maria predicts that in a few years Liesl will be married ("Sixteen Going on Seventeen (Reprise)"). Rolf enters with a telegram that offers the Captain a commission in the German Navy. He consults Maria and decides that they must secretly flee Austria. German Admiral von Schreiber arrives to find out why he has not answered the telegram. He explains that the German Navy holds him in high regard, offers him the commission, and tells him to report immediately to Bremerhaven to assume command. Maria says that he cannot leave immediately, as they are all singing in the Festival concert, and the Admiral agrees to wait until after it.
At the concert, the von Trapps sing an elaborate version of "Do-Re-Mi". Then Max brings out the Captain's guitar, and he sings "Edelweiss", in which Austria's national flower becomes a declaration of loyalty to the country itself. Max asks for an encore and announces that this is the von Trapp family's last chance to sing together, as the honor guard waits to escort the Captain to his new command. While the judges decide on the prizes, the von Trapps sing "So Long, Farewell", leaving the stage in small groups. Max then announces the runners-up, stalling as much as possible. When he announces that the first prize goes to the von Trapps and they do not appear, the Nazis start a search. The family hides at the Abbey, and the Nazis do not find them until Rolf comes upon them. He calls his lieutenant, but upon seeing Liesl, he reports that he has found no one. A nun tells them that the borders have been closed. They flee over the mountains (the Alps) as the nuns reprise "Climb Ev'ry Mountain".
Maria Rainer - Claudia Gilmour
Sister Berthe - Mary James
Sister Margaretta - Veronica Bould
The Mother Abbess - Sheila Wood
Sister Sophia - Lucy Parker
Captain Georg Von Trapp - Tim Brown
Franz - Alf Rai
Frau Schmidt - Joyce Wilson
Liesl - Eleanor Griffiths
Friedrich - Jack Harrison and Luke Bennett
Louisa - Abigail Strudwicke and Poppy Thompson
Kurt - Thomas Harrison and Thomas Withers
Brigitta - Emily Daniel and Fiona Winning
Marta - Lucy Toor and Lucy Foley
Gretl - Anna Watkins and Isabelle Westley-Smith
Rolf Gruber - Will Phipps
Elsa Schraeder - Samantha Walker
Ursula - Angie Astell
Max Detweiler - Roger Stokes
Herr Zeller - Dominic Napier
Frau Zeller - Dawn Corfield
South Staffs Musical Theatre Company
The Sound of Music
Grand Theatre, Wolverhampton
Tuesday 9th October 2012
Review by Andy Poulton
The hills were most definitely alive in this Rodgers and Hammerstein classic production of "The Sound of Music", a love story between a young postulate nun and a naval captain in 1930s Austria.
The opening Nun's chorus, was balanced and sung with precision under the tight control of Musical Director James Maddison, as were all the other chorus numbers.
Christopher Plummer in the film is a hard act to follow but Tim Brown as Captain Georg Von Trapp gave a nicely rounded performance with an excellent rendering of Edelweiss. Claudia Gilmour was an excellent Maria who pulled out all the stops, performing with just the right amount of naiveté, exuberance and sensitivity, portraying the role to perfection, her natural aptitude for the part enabled believable relationships to be generated, especially with the children, leading them confidently in Do-Re-Me and The Lonely Goatherd.
Sheila Wood as Mother Abbess gave a powerful and well received rendition of 'Climb every Mountain', exactly as it should be. Solid performances also from Roger Stokes as the sly Max Detweiler being strong and enthusiastic and Maria Shee as an amiable but workable Elsa Schraeder.
I know it's an old cliché but I really AM saving the best till last. The young ones were FAB-U-LOUS, such a talented bunch with some good voices and oodles of potential to go far. These young actors and actresses took team work to another level!
Congratulations to Karl Veltman on a superb production, and how lovely to see a happy, smiley, satisfied audience leaving the theatre.