Monday, November 27, 2017

MBS Sound of Music 2017 in Review - till 3 Dec 2017

by Jeremy Lee

Let’s start at the very beginning, a very good place to 1959, Mary Martin trod onto a Broadway stage and sang “The Sound Of Music” for the first time…..wait, what? What happened to Julie Andrews?

For everybody who thinks that the legendary The Sound Of Music started with Julie Andrews twirling around the hills of Salzburg...nah, that was just the 1965 movie. The production currently running at the MasterCard Theatres at the Marina Bay Sands till 3 December is here to put you right.

Turns out The Sound Of Music began life as a Broadway stage musical with iconic Broadway star Mary Martin originating the lead role of Maria von Trapp. And that, NOT the Julie Andrews movie, is the production that’s now being revived at the Marina Bay Sands, after a successful run at the same venue in 2014.

Well, what’s the difference, you may ask? First, the good news: Don’t worry, all your favourite tunes are still here, including, well, “My Favourite Things”. Toe-tappers like “Do Re Mi”, “The Lonely Goatherd” and “Sixteen Going On Seventeen” are still intact, and stirring numbers like “Climb Ev’ry Mountain” and “Edelweiss” are present too.

Some of these much-loved songs are just repositioned, that’s all. For example, “My Favourite Things”, sung by Maria and the children in the movie during the thunderstorm scene in her bedroom, is now sung much earlier in the show... and by the Mother Abbess, just like how it was supposed to be in the stage musical. Maria and the children now sing “The Lonely Goatherd” during the thunderstorm scene.

However, unless you’re a die-hard fan of the movie who knows every sequence by heart, you won’t detect much different from this production, and will thoroughly enjoy it as much as you enjoyed the movie.

Now, the better news: There are indeed some obvious differences between this production and the movie. The most striking of all is we have two “new” songs that the original stage musical had, which were cut from the movie. And both of them involve Baroness Elsa Schräder singing!

Audiences might be bewildered to hear the Baroness and Max, who were both distinctly non-musical in the movie, breaking out in song not once, but twice, in the ditties “How Can Love Survive” and “No Way To Stop It”, which both explain their somewhat cynical attitudes towards life and how they are at odds with the simplicity of Maria and the von Trapps. Upon listening to the songs, it’s quite evident why they were cut from the movie: They have a distinctly different feel from the rest of the songs in the musical, and presumably composers Rodgers and Hammerstein did this to deliberately set them apart from the rest of the more innocent and heartfelt songs. For Singaporeans who love to get a bargain, though, we should just take it as a bonus -- two additional songs we didn’t even ask for, and they are capably sung by Haylea Heyns as the Baroness and Jonathan Taylor as Max.

And as a bonus, the two songs that were added in the movie but were not in the original stage production -- “I Have Confidence” and “Something Good” -- are also here, so audiences will get the best of both worlds.

As for the performance, a clear standout is Janelle Visagie as the Mother Abbess. Though the role doesn’t get much stage time, she has the necessary gravitas and charisma to steal the show whenever she’s on stage.for the role, and most importantly she has the singing chops for a rousing version of  “Climb Ev’ry Mountain”. Visagie’s operatic background is put to good use in the Act 1 closing number, and it makes her the performer that evokes the fondest memories for aficionados of the movie.

Another notable mention is Carmen Pretorius, who like all the Marias before her has a very tough job to even come close to the magnificence of Julie Andrews. Though her vocals are far from the stylings of the English Dame (who, indeed, can match up to them?), she makes the role her own with a spunk and winning chemistry with the children. As with most Marias, though, she seems to have more chemistry with the children than her eventual husband Captain von Trapp (Nicholas Maude).

Parents may come to marvel at the children, who are indeed adorable. The production has chosen 18 young actors and actress right here in Singapore to play the 6 youngest von Trapp children (with the eldest, Liesl, played by the delightful Zoe Beavon). Each child character will be alternated between 3 children. So if you like children and want to support young local talent, you can’t miss this chance to catch them in action.

If you’re still reading this review, you’re probably already interested in the show, so what are you waiting for? We can guarantee you’ll have a great night out.

Intrigued? Here's your last chance to get tickets to The Sound of Music at MBS! Get your tickets at SISTIC!

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