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Durban Theatre Review: The Sound of Music at the Playhouse Opera Theatre is simply sublime

Durban Theatre Review: The Sound of Music at the Playhouse Opera Theatre is simply sublime - 5.0 out of 5 based on 1 review

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It’s the charm of ‘The Sound of Music’ that has been so successfully captured by The Playhouse Company’s production currently showing at the complex’s Opera Theatre. While the music and story are well known to many generations, if well done, they translate into a wonderful evening of beautiful escapism borne on the wings of songs. It is a production with scope and this too has been masterfully achieved by Director Ralph Lawson and his team of experts

At the core of  ‘The Sound of Music’ is a feel-good love story which is based on fact. It’s a rags-to-riches tale, a thriller, a narrow escape, a bunch of kids, a great love of art with a belief in the power of music to gather and hold people together  as well as a fundamental conviction in the goodness and protection of God. This combination of ingredients can only melt the heart and uplift the spirit.

Our heroine, Maria, a sincere country girl with a passionate and playful nature is played with great skill by Lynelle Kenned, UCT Opera School graduate and member of the award-winning South African Sopranos. Lynelle delivers a faultless performance, utilising every opportunity to create and build her character and give her breath and life. She is met more than half-way by the experienced and suave Craig Urbani as Captain von Trapp - the millionaire with a conscience, a sad romantic history, a brood of children and a capacity for love. Urbani fits the part like a glove; he too explores every nuance to give a well-rounded and convincing performance.

In the convent, we meet the Mother Abbess - a wise, comforting, caring woman who warmly embraces the wayward Maria. Played by Arline Jaftha, the Abbess is in strong nurturing hands, her acting only exceeded by her beautifully modulated mezzo soprano. She is wonderfully supported by the irrepressible and glowing Shelley McLean as the kind Sister Sophia, clear voiced Erin Fourie as the solid and critical Sister Bertha and musical Thandu Ncube as the compassionate Sister Margaretta.

 Back at the Captain’s gracious home, there are seven young von Trapps, starting with the delightful 16-year-old Liesl, played with sincerity by Chantel Adendorff and moving down the scale to sweet little Gretl. The six younger children are double cast and the night I saw the production it was Alex van Schalkwyk as Fredrich, Sarah Sparks as Louisa, Milla di Paolo as Brigitta, Ethan Abrahamse as Kurt, Leah Parry as Marta and Shweta Ramsaroop as Gretl: all singing their hearts out and handling the many costume changes and appearances like troopers.

Other members of the familiar cast of characters are played by some of our most talented and versatile performers: Liesl Coppin creams the glamorous Elsa Schrieder, Rory Booth delivers a tuneful lovelorn Rolf, Adam Dore plays the turncoat Franz with sang froid, Alison Cassels the devoted Frau Schmidt, the nasty Nazi Herr Zeller by Michael Gritten and Frank Graham the rotund and twinkly Max Detweiller. With these satellite members and few extras beside, the entire cast is simply stellar and work exceptionally well together.

Down in the orchestra pit a different kind of magic is being made with the KZN Philharmonic Orchestra under the baton of Lykele Temmingh supporting the superb singing. The panoramic setting, with its clever mobile sets, designed by Denis Hutchinson, recall the scope of the 1959 movie and the costumes by Sarah Roberts are faithful. 

‘The Sound of Music’ is a simply sublime production that will appeal to everyone. Take the whole family along to enjoy a heart warming story, the beautiful setting and the marvellous music.

Note: This is a production which is masterfully handled by the cast who transport you into their world. The minimal use of props accompanied by magnificent audio-visual backdrops mix the magic of live performance with a trip into the snow-topped Alps; a visit to the Abbey with its stained-glass windows and so much more – a production not to be missed this Festive season (Ed)

The Sound of Music is playing in the Playhouse Opera Theatre until 30 December 2016. Tickets range from R150 to R225 if pre-booked via the Playhouse Box Office on (031) 369 9450/9596 or via Computicket. GPSA Bulk Booking Special: Reserve 10 and only pay for 8! Contact Ailsa on 0832502690

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