For a well-known and loved family story, many groups would shy away from the challenges that The Sound of Music presents – Arden does no such thing, confidently pushing ahead and creating a truly wonderful and very professional school production that lives up to the prestige that Arden shows have come to claim.
As Maria, Olivia Saunders provides stunning vocals and good interaction with the other characters, creating lovely intimate scenes with the Mother Superior (Carmen De Pons). As both Mother Superior and Elsa Schraeder, Carmen De Pons excelled, managing to keep her characters separate and engaging, with particularly enjoyable renditions of No Way to Stop It and the beautifully sung Climb Ev’ry Mountain. Both interacted very well with Callum Beddoes as Captain Von Trapp, who performed authoritatively as the stern and forbidding Captain, transitioning nicely to the softer and more romantic character we see as his relationship with his children and Maria flourishes. Additionally, James Dunbar as Max Detweiler really brings the character to life and expertly carried out all the asides and jokes with great comic timing and joviality; a much-needed drop of humour and light-heartedness in the quickly darkening story.
Katie Davie was enchanting as the innocent Liesl, performing a lovely rendition of Sixteen Going on Seventeen and sharing great chemistry and charm with Ben Harley-Mason, who portrayed the smitten yet politically conflicted Rolf well.
Making up the rest of the Von Trapps: Rachel Evans, Lucy Bugg, Hannah O’Leary, Archie Spittle-Maguire, Georgia Fair and Rosalie Carter all worked very well together, easily slipping into their roles as playful younger children and coming together with great vocals and enthusiasm for their well-known numbers Do-Re-Mi and So Long, Farewell.
A veritable crowd of nuns/Nazis and servants support the leads very well and certainly fill the group scenes in the Abbey and the party with hubbub and life that a small cast would struggle to achieve – it was wonderful to see the enthusiasm and energy so many of you shared! Well done to all for deftly managing some very quick costume changes, large set moves and many different small dance and music segments – a particular highlight being the Nazi plate dance!
While a minor criticism would be that the energy dropped a little nearing the end of the first act, we were immediately boosted back up going into the second half and it did not detract from the story. Although the use of the stage was slightly limited due to the sheer volume of cast members, it was fantastic to see such hard-working and like-minded people all coming together to share a love of performing!
A special mention must also be given to the ‘backing singers’, whose gorgeous harmonies perfectly melded with the voices of the cast, as well as the live band conducted by Dr Seago; their joint efforts really enhanced the talents of the cast.
Congratulations to all cast and crew for working together to create such a smooth and enjoyable production!
The Sound of Music runs until Saturday night at Arden Academy, including a matinee, and is definitely well worth watching.
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