Review by Michelle Sutton
Willoughby Theatre Company presents the classic family musical The Sound of Music at the Concourse, Chatswood. Directed by Adam Haynes, the production features the incredible sets and impressive ensemble that Willoughby Theatre Company has become known for. Based on the inspiring true story of the Trapp Family Singers, The Sound of Music debuted on Broadway in 1959 with music by Rodgers and Hammerstein and book by Howard Lindsey and Russel Crouse.
The set is a dazzling visual spectacular, cleverly constructed on a rotating floor to comprise five different locations including the abbey, the interior of the Von Trapp house with multiple levels and the sweeping grand staircase, the Von Trapp house exterior, Maria’s bedroom and the famous Austrian mountains, cleverly depicted on a staircase. The set is an incredibly impressive and innovative construction and also extremely beautiful to look at. It works seamlessly throughout the show and elevates the production to the next level. The lighting design complements the set and aids in creating the world of 1930s Austria. The stained-glass window projection over the convent set is a beautiful sight to behold as you first sit down and the show begins. The lighting bounces off the different sets in beautiful ways, creating the illusion of different times of day and different seasons all on the same stage. The attention to detail in the costume design helps to bring the historical era to life, with especially fun designs for the children's outfits and costumes in the ballroom scene.
Musical director Callum Tolhurst-Close has done a remarkable job bringing the much-loved songs to life. The ballroom scene featuring traditional Austrian waltz is a beautiful moment with credit to the ensemble and choreographer Janina Hamerlok and assistant choreographer Skye Cornwell. Die-hard fans of The Sound of Music will be pleased with the renditions of the iconic songs.
The charming and spirited Maria Reiner is played by Felicity Caldwell, who has the perfect vocal tone and skills, playful energetic stage presence and comedy chops for the role. She is a joy to watch throughout the whole show. Marcus Hurley commands the stage as Captain Georg Von Trapp, bringing the appropriate gravitas and charisma to the role. The actors’ chemistry is highlighted in duet “Something Good” with Caldwell’s lower register shining. Tisha R. Kelemen stuns as Mother Abess with her immaculate soprano voice and all of her solos are a highlight.
The Von Trapp children are played by a group of extremely talented actors, dancers and singers who have great chemistry with each other and brilliant comedic timing. Chloe Brown shines as Brigitta, with a voice like crystal and a delightful embodiment of the precocious, unrelentingly truthful Von Trapp daughter. Liesl Von Trapp is played by Abbey Thomas who is a true triple-threat and definitely a star in the making with impeccable vocals and a captivating stage presence. Highlights of the production include the big musical numbers that feature the children including “Do-Re-Mi” and “So Long, Farewell”.
Director Adam Haynes has done a great job bringing a beloved classic musical to life, with strong performances from all of the cast, musicians and an absolute treat of lavish set and costume design. Willoughby Theatre Company’s production of The Sound of Music is an uplifting celebration for audiences of all ages.