After its last hugely successful tour in 2015/2016, The Sound of Music has returned for another tour of the UK. The tour, beginning in December 2017, is nearing the end of its current UK run, and playing its final shows at Manchester’s Palace Theatre. Bill Kenwright’s production breathes new life into a much-loved musical, and despite it being a school night, the crowd is full of parents with their young children, singing along to all the songs.
As a relative newcomer to musical theatre, and having never seen The Sound of Music before (neither on stage nor on screen), I was unsure of what to expect. From the off, it was an enchanting performance. Alumni of TV talent show The Voice Lucy O’Byrne is a perfect Maria: funny and passionate and altogether charming. Having recently starred as Fantine in a West End production of Les Miserables and released a solo album, it seems that she is on her way to becoming a household name.
Award-winning actress Megan Llewellyn is absolutely resplendent as the Mother Abbess. Her performance of ‘Climb Ev’ry Mountain’ is a show-stopping one, which lets her show off her opera skills. Kara Lane and Howard Samuels provide the comic relief as Elsa Schraeder and Max Detweiler respectively, and have a chance to shine in their performances of ‘How Will Love Survive?’ and ‘No Way To Stop It’.
Katie Shearman, having played a minor role and been a Maria understudy previously, now takes a more prominent role on stage as Liesl, the oldest von Trapp child and a young woman falling in love for the first time. Her onstage chemistry with Jordan Oliver’s Rolf is undeniable, and they make the performance of ‘Sixteen Going on Seventeen’ a joy to watch.
The cast is wonderfully suited to their roles, with the exception of Neil McDermott as Captain von Trapp. Delivering his performance in an overly-posh and affected accent that he struggles to maintain, McDermott’s Captain is the weakest character on the stage and although he can definitely sing, he is routinely out-acted by his fellow cast-members.
I didn’t know what I’d think of The Sound of Music when I first walked into the Palace Theatre and took my seat. A fantastic three hours later, I left, having been completely and totally converted to the show and ready to spend the rest of the week humming ‘My Favourite Things’ under my breath.
The Sound of Music is playing at Manchester’s Palace Theatre until 17th March 2018. For more information and tickets, go to britishtheatre.com/sound-music-uk-tour/.