Manchester is alive with ‘THE SOUND OF MUSIC’When I heard that Connie Fisher had pulled out of the latter end of The Sound of Music tour due to ill health and wouldn’t be performing at The Palace Theatre I had to admit I was disappointed. Like many others I felt that Fisher, winner of BBC1 show How Do You Solve A Problem Like Maria, would be irreplaceable and a hard act to follow…but I was wrong. Stepping into her wimple was the delightful Verity Rushworth who managed to capture the youthful and comedic side of the ‘singing nun’ and had the audience enchanted from the moment she sang the title song.Rushworth really acts the part throughout and has some fantastic facial expressions which are possibly the result of her spending over 11 years playing Donna Windsor in Emmerdale. With this musical you can’t help but be transported back to your childhood days when you would curl up on the sofa with the family at Christmas to watch the The Sound of Music on ‘the box’.
Rogers and Hammersteins classics such as ‘Do-Re-Mi’ and ‘So Long Farewell’ are executed very well by the Von Trapp children who are adorable in every scene they are in. Avid fans of the movie will see a few noticeable changes though in the transition from screen to stage such as ‘The Lonely Goatherd’ not being a puppet show but instead being sung in Maria’s bedroom when the children are scared of the storm outside and also the addition of 2 new numbers sung by the Baroness and Max.
I must admit I was disappointed at Jason Donovan’s Captain Von Trapp as I had high hopes that he would equal the charm of Christopher Plummer who played the role in the 1965 film. Unfortunately, Donovan turned Von Trapp into a ‘Prince Charles caricature’ and vocally seemed to be struggling. The former Neighbours star, who has just been announced as one of this years’ Strictly Come Dancing contestants, also fails to have any chemistry with his leading lady Rushworth despite her trying hard to create it in their duet ‘Something Good’.
On the whole though, this is a great production which will leave you coming out of the theatre smiling and humming its tunes the next day. Watch out for the ‘show stopping’ moment when the Mother Abbes, played by Marilyn Hill Smith, sings her socks off at the end of Act 1 with a stunning rendition of ‘Climb Ev’ry Mountain’- I guarantee you will be blown away!
Palace Theatre, Manchester
Tues 6th-Sat 17th September 2011
Box Office: 0844 871 3018 (booking fee applies)