The hills are still alive, decades later
- Lesley Stones
- Life, etc
- 21 Apr 2014 (South Africa)
The Von Trapps are singing their hearts out at Montecasino, and you’d better believe it’s every bit as wholesome and sing-along fabulous as it was when Julie Andrews dished it out on a Christmas special near you. By LESLEY STONES.
Whole generations of kids don’t know the story of The Sound Of Music.
Although that isn’t a national tragedy, it is perhaps quite sad.
Singing nuns, wholesome wenches and sweet little children do seem like a world away. But heck, when people conquer adversity, pursue their dreams, make sacrifices for the greater good and just plain do the right thing, maybe this old stuff should still have a place in a world gone selfish. And apart from that, it’s a hell of a good show.
When those nuns belt out ‘Climb Every Mountain’, your skin turns to goosebumps and you find there’s something in your eye that needs attention from a tissue.
If you don’t know the story – loosely based on the true story of the Von Trapp Family Singers, then this production at Montecasino will blow you away.
But of course you know the tale, and it will once again send shivers down your spine, while the scenery alone delivers several ‘wow’ moments.
Bethany Dickson is absolutely brilliant as Maria, the would-be nun. There’s certainly a touch of the Julie Andrews about her, yet she has a confidence of her own and a wonderful voice that does justice to classic old songs like the title track and the silly little ditty ‘Do-Re-Me’.
Andre Schwartz has an enchanting voice and is great as the father of the clan whose broken heart is being thawed. All the seven children are excellent and James Borthwick as Max is also a delight, adding most of the humour and the more earthy instincts in a tale that’s largely fuelled by sugar.
Then the gorgeous voice of Janelle Visagie as the Mother Abbess stirs the soul as the Von Trapp family steals away over the border. It’s delicious stuff.
The lyrics are crystal clear and the live orchestra led by Louis Zurnamer adds a level of sumptuousness you just don’t get with a pre-recording. But it’s the scenery you’ll remember. An abbey arrives swiftly and silently, with clever lighting casting atmospheric shadows. Then everything swings or slides seamlessly and you’re in a lavish family home overlooking the mountains.
There’s a delightfully playful feel to the whole production, along with several ‘awww’ moments, and it’s all overlaid by an admirable slickness.
This classic show by Rogers and Hammerstein has some of the most memorable songs to ever come from the musicals, and a hell of a story to boot. To Jack Boot, in fact, as the Nazis begin their strong-arm stranglehold over Austria that gives this idyllic Alpine fairytale its bite.
The Sound of Music runs at the Teatro at Montecasino until 8 June. DM
Photos: Pat Bromilow-Downing