Once it got going, the Cultural Development Division’s staging of The Sound of Music, directed by Silvyn Farrell, made for a fun and entertaining evening.
Unfortunately, because of the late start, due to an event overlap for some of the performers, and the length of the original Rodgers and Hammerstein play/film, it also made it too-drawn-out-for-a-Sunday-night, with some patrons ducking out early as a result. It’s a shame too because it was quite well done.
The music was a stand-out including the well executed accompaniment during the performances and musical bridges in the interludes by the live orchestra. The singing was lovely – kudos to the choir, the cast, and standout soloists such as Tashika Joseph as Reverend Mother encouraging Maria to Climb Every Mountain.
The back stage crew earned their keep with well timed changes of the nicely designed set. And leads, Jaycie Lewis as Maria and Raenor Sharpe as Captain Von Trapp, did well with singing, character, and chemistry.
If you’re a fan of the musical, a popular film starring Julie Andrews and Christopher Plummer, you might have found yourself do-re-me-ing along with the cast, especially in the scenes with Maria and the children as she taught them to sing and embrace life.
If you’re not familiar with it, here’s how it breaks down: Maria lives at a Convent in Austria but finds the discipline required of nuns restrictive, she gets assigned governess of the seven overly disciplined children of the Von Trapp household, she brings music back into the lives of both the children and father, love between Maria and Austrian naval commander Capt Von Trapp changes all their futures, and the shadow of the Third Reich hangs over everything.
That last bit may just be the weakest link – that and possibly the sub-plot involving the fiancée which should have created tension but mostly seemed to slow the narrative.
I’m just not sure the encroachment of Hitler’s Germany on Austria resonated with a 21st century Caribbean audience, especially the younger members of the audience, though they no doubt appreciated in a general sense that the family was under threat and had to flee.
The strongest link was easily Jaycie Lewis as Maria. To a layperson’s ears, her singing was beautiful and always in character. She brought Maria’s signature spunk to every scene and yet captured the vulnerability of a young woman trying to figure out her place in the world while be a mentor to a brood of young children and navigate the uncertainty of first love. Jaycie was both well cast and well prepped; look forward to seeing her in more things.
The Captain’s uniform is a big one to fill but Sharpe held his own. Uncle Max got his laughs. The children were fun as well. They had the challenge of diminishing themselves to child like behaviour, even if size-wise they didn’t always fit; they did a good job of it, without self consciousness.
It was a good sign that though they grumbled, some at the late start, the audience got into the spirit of things once the show got going – if their laughter and running commentary are any indication.
Everything wasn’t perfect. Some things, like the sound not always being clear and mics sometimes knocking and popping happened on stage; some like a couple of lengthy cell phone conversations in my section was the fault of audience members who seemingly chose to ignore the directive to mute phones and by extension conversations during the show.
But it’s fair to say that folks had a good time Sunday night, and may have even found themselves humming a tune from the show long after leaving the Cathedral Cultural Centre, as I did.