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The Sound of Music

February 14, 2019 | By | 4 Replies More

★★★★☆   Clear-voiced

Church Hill Theatre: Wed 13 – Sat 16 Feb 2019
Review by Thom Dibdin

Youth musicals company A-Team Productions has pulled out all the musical stops this week in a hugely enjoyable production of The Sound of Music up at the Church Hill Theatre.

Yes, it has its saccharine moments, but which production of the show doesn’t? And none of them involve the impeccably clear-voiced four year-old Aela Collins or her eight year-old sister Rebecca as the youngest of the seven Von Trapp siblings, Gretl and Marta.

Ailish Barry, Robin McGillivray, Joe Gill, Kirsty Allan, Cameron Wilson, Thea Mason, Rebecca Collins, Aela Collins and Shaun Hamilton. Pic Daniel Thompson

In fact the performances of the children provide a solid component of the production’s success, with all seven putting in strong performances, holding up to the surrounding cast in a way that maybe only a youth company can.

The two boys, Cameron Wilson as Kurt and Joe Gill as Friedrich, are rather under-written but neither falter. Thea Mason as the straight talking Brigitta and Robin McGillivray as the soon-to-be 17 Leisl both make impressive turns while Kirsty Allan lets her singing voice do her talking as the rebel, Louisa.

In the professional touring productions seen in town in recent years, the children have provided something of an adjunct to the central role of Maria, the novice nun in Salzburg’s Nonnberg Abbey whose love for wandering in the surrounding mountains gets her sent off to become the children’s nanny.

Here, director Jackie Robinson ensures that while Maria provides the eyes through which the Von Trapp family can be seen, together with their situation in Austria in the days around the Anschluss of 1938 when Nazi Germany took over its neighbour, the children provide her focus.

enthusiasm and understanding

Maria’s falling in love with Shaun Hamilton’s Captain Von Trapp and his intentions towards Dana-Rose Sweeny’s rich widow Elsa Schrader, are hardly sidelined. However, the relationships are worn lightly, in contrast to Hamilton’s strong expression of the Captain’s revulsion for the Nazis.

Jamie Lawson and Robin McGillivray. Pic: Daniel Thompson

Ailish Barry is an excellent Maria. You feel her empathy with the children, but it is her singing voice that really stands out. All Rodgers and Hammerstein’s best known numbers are delivered with enthusiasm and understanding – the title song, Do-Re-Mi, the over-sweet Favourite Things and, punctuating the thunder scene, a cleverly danced Lonely Goatherd.

But it is the way she brings out the less well known numbers that makes you sit up, notably on the two borrowed from the later Julie Andrews movie.

Her promenade around the auditorium for I Have Confidence draws your eyes away from the transition taking place on stage from the opening scenes set in the Abbey to the Von Trapp villa where her real story will begin. Her phrasing on her second-half love duet with the Baron, Something Good, is exquisite, emphasising the depth of Maria’s feelings for Von Trapp.

swagger

Elsewhere the strong performances continue. Aaron Clason has a swagger about him as the impresario Max, Jamie Lawson has a teenage arrogance to him as Leisl’s sweetheart, Rolf, and Katie Greenan gets right into the solid, supportive housekeeper, Frau Scmidt.

As a production it does rather expose the prosaic nature of the musical’s storytelling, while the passage of time between scenes is not always signalled as clearly as it might be. And on a technical level, the orchestra is rather high in the mix, meaning that the levels of the singing voices have to be raised too, to the singer’s detriment at times.

But the singing triumphs over everything else. From Fiona Wilson’s glorious opening note as the Abbess (and her big rendition of Climb Ev’ry Mountain), through to the final So Long, Farewell as the Von Trapps escape the Nazis, it ensures that yes the Church Hill is alive with the sound of A-Team music.

Running time Two hours and 30 minutes (including one interval)
Church Hill Theatre, 33a Morningside Road, EH10 4DR
Wednesday 13 – Saturday 16 February 2019
Daily: 7.30 pm; Matinee Sat: 2.30 pm.
Tickets and details: Book here.
A-Team Productions’ website: http://www.a-teamproductions.org/.
Facebook: @ateamproductionsedinburgh.
Twitter: @ATeamedinburgh.

ENDS

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Comments (4)

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  1. Ailish Barry says:

    A massive thanks from the cast and I, for you coming and providing such an excellent review! 🙂

  2. Christine says:

    Excellent show was singing along from start to end of the show…Everyone done so well

  3. Audrey says:

    Fantastic show well done A Team

  4. Helena Adie says:

    Congratulations to the A Team. Good to hear your worries were for nothing, Jackie. Just a shame I couldn’t come but Les Mis calls!!

    Love
    Helena

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