Review by Anina-Marie and Kieran J. Evans
The hills are indeed alive with music! Queensland Musical Theatre’s (QMT) production of the iconic musical The Sound of Music opened at Twelfth Night Theatre last weekend. And boy, what a marvellous production! Presented on a stage with artfully constructed props and painted backdrops, this theatre production harks splendidly back to the classic Dame Julie Andrews feature film that we all know and love.
The atmospheric design of QMT’s production is flawless through and through. The simple but effective lighting design by Tom Dodds, operated by Reagan Lovett, supports the action on the stage seamlessly. The sound by Ross Ritchie supports the live orchestra and vocalists perfectly; delivering a stunning, balanced soundscape. So much so that the audience can’t help but sing along to Rodgers and Hammerstein’s well-loved songs.
The set design by Gerard Livsey and Deian Ping is minimal but efficient featuring several arches, an altar for the abbey, a staircase for the manor, and a rolling backdrop for the hills. Deian Ping’s props, adorned by an army of painters, leaves the stage feeling not cluttered but genuinely lived-in. The costumes designed and assembled by Deian Ping, Gillian Peterson and a large team of seamstresses are perfectly era-appropriate and simply divine.
Under Deian Ping’s excellent direction, the actors in this production thrive. With support from Assistant Director James Rogers, Deian’s rendition of The Sound of Music is blocked to perfection. The staging is clear, precise and the actors always move with conviction. The choreography by Isabel Byrne is gorgeous, drawing the audience into the world of the music and driving the momentum of the stage action.
One of the standout aspects of QMT’s production is the music. Musical Director Julie Whiting delivers something truly spectacular. Hauntingly beautiful choral pieces from the nuns, note perfect delivery from the leads, spot on harmonies and dynamics for every duet, trio, quartet and ensemble piece. The musical direction of this production is sensational. The marvellous orchestra plays without fault, supporting all the sublime vocals flawlessly; bringing Rodgers’ beautiful score to life.
As Maria and Captain von Trapp, Lara Boyle and Nathaniel Currie are both outstanding. The chemistry between these two is best described as fire. Lara’s vocal control is exhilarating and entertaining. Her quirky delivery of the lovely Maria is quintessential. Lara is definitely the standout performer of this production. Taking on such a challenging role in the wake of Dame Julie Andrews’ iconic performance can be tricky. But Lara manages to do so; gifting us with divine vocals and an excellent interpretation of Maria that does not disappoint.
Nathaniel Currie’s Captain von Trapp has a certain flair for aloofness and reckless abandon in the face of familial love. Eventually colliding with Maria’s daring directness, and the audience just loves it! Nathaniel’s crooning rendition of Edelweiss is like liquid gold; tugging on the heartstrings. Nathaniel is an excellent actor who plays a believable Captain von Trapp; maintaining the perfect tough exterior and slowly revealing the kind heart underneath.
Kathryn Bradbury as Mother Abbess is pious yet approachable with an obvious care and affection for Maria that is believable. Kathryn’s performance of Climb Ev’ry Mountain is absolutely amazing, everything the audience expects and more. Bravo!
Kate Retzki’s Elsa Schraeder is stunning; the original girl boss! Kate’s performance is entertaining through and through. Her chemistry with Kris Brennan’s Max Detweiler is simply divine. As Max, Kris portrays the character’s lust for clout, political scheming and knack for survival to absolute perfection.
Sisters Berthe, Margaretta, and Sophia are brought to life by Kellie Wilson, Kristie Rabbitt and Catherine Schwarten respectively. Their portrayal of one part supportive and three parts “Maria can you not” is resplendent in its passive aggressiveness, we should all aspire to be so sassy. Kellie, Kristie and Catherine are all excellent performers and vocalists and it shows.
As this production is working with child actors, there are two separate teams of Von Trapp children. Bravo Brisbane had the immense pleasure of experiencing the performances of the fabulous Vienna Team.
Holly Komorowski’s portrayal of Liesl spun a tale of a dutiful daughter with a rebellious streak who just wants to love and be loved in return. From naivety to heartbreak, Holly’s performance is amazing. Her gorgeous singing voice and genuine acting makes Holly another one of the standouts from this show. Her chemistry with Quinn Chambers’ Rolf is palpable. Their duet Sixteen Going On Seventeen is phenomenal.
Josh Cochrane’s Friedrich is a wonderment of boyish charm, eager to be a respected man in his father’s eyes without succumbing to pitfalls along the way. Freya Griggs portrays a remarkably driven Louisa playing tricks along the way who is not only believable but a joy to witness.
As Brigitta, Darci Allen is forthright with hilarious observational quips and insight to the agendas of the characters around her. Bravo Brisbane is overjoyed that Darci delivers such an amazing performance in what she describes as her dream role. Beau Bruback delivers a wonderfully sensitive and friendly Kurt. Beau appears to be having the time of his life onstage, and Bravo Brisbane looks forward to seeing him thrive in whatever he appears in next.
Alessia Lily Monteverde’s portrayal of Marta is perfectly playful, always bringing Louisa back down to solid ground, and calling her out for her troublesome pranks. Of course, the absolutely adorable Harriet Strauss tugs at the heartstrings as little Gretl. She draws an audible wave of appreciation for her delightful shenanigans from the audience whenever she is in the spotlight.
This massive cast also features a slew of supporting actors. Portrayed by Tim Hildebrand and Patricia Rhodes respectively in excellent, entertaining performances is Franz and Frau Schmidt; the loveable duo otherwise known as the help at the von Trapp residence. The supporting cast also features wonderful performances from Byron Philp as Herr Zeller, Andre Wium as Baron Elberfeld, Cassidy Gilders as Ursula, Kathryn Balsillie as Baroness Elberfeld and Isabel Jens-Kruse as Frau Zeller.
Rounding out this amazing cast is an ensemble group fulfilling various roles as nuns, dancers, postulants and priests. This group consisting of Romy Devlin, Jada Parsons, Courtney Pennisi, Aimee Williamson, Lachlan Elliott, Andrew Haselgrove, Simon Lyell, Connie Acevedo Burchhardt, Gillian Peterson, Emily Strauss, Sienna Ball, Lauren Brunner, Alice Jukes, Sigourney Sun, Beatriz Tonin and Chantelle Turnbull are all excellent vocalists and performers who deliver a marvellous show. Bravo!
Accomplishing a production like The Sound of Music is an amazing challenge and one to which this company from QMT certainly rises. This show is a beautiful example of the power of community theatre. The music is absolutely stunning, the performers are dedicated, talented and passionate and the result is a production that leaves the audience singing tunes from the show over and over well after the night has finished. Bravo!
Queensland Musical Theatre’s The Sound of Music will play at Twelfth Night Theatre until Sunday 12 June. Tickets are available here.