The Sound of Music at The Liverpool Empire Theatre

Posted on 15 September 2015
By Chris High
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It would be easy to snipe at what is, it has to be said, a Musical icon – saying that it is an outdated, cheesy parody of itself or even just plain clichéd. Well, Breaking News #1: the current production of The Sound of Music which is running at The Liverpool Empire may tick some if not all of these boxes but it nevertheless remains one heck of a fine night of theatrical and musical entertainment.

Indeed, to say that the show is “quite beautiful” would not be an understatement, simply because of its quaintness, its niceness, its feel goodness which is all brought out by what, for the most part, are a truly wonderful cast and, of course, some instantly recognisable songs that are impossible not to hum / sing along to.

Breaking News #2: Not ever having seen the film (yeah, I know)doesn’t matter, because through this collection of monolithic numbers that recount the tale of Maria Rainer and the prelude of hers and the Von Trapp’s escape from newly Nazi annexed Austria, the story is so familiar all you need do is shut your eyes and envisage Andrews and Plummer doing their thing to world wide acclaim.

Yet to shut your eyes here would rob audiences of the joy of experiencing a marvellous set filled with decadence and glamour, some fabulous choreography orchestrated by Bill Deamer and an array of costumes that would befit any department store window.

As Maria, Over The Rainbow winner Danielle Hope certainly has big shoes to fill; so big that she doesn’t even try to but instead has decided to design her own pair and, in so doing, stamps her own authority upon the role and so lifts it to another level, particularly during her interactions with her young charges.

So good is Danielle Hope, in fact, it makes you want to be under her protection from the off and, boy, can she sing. Do-Re-Mi is pitch perfect and beautifully enunciated, Favourite Things starts off with deliberate nervousness and ends as a rousing confidence boost, whereas her duet with Steven Houghton playing the stiff Captain von Trapp during Something Good is a an absolute delight, as is Houghton’s own performance of Edelweiss.

Without the children there really isn’t a Sound of Music to write about and this has never been more firmly underlined than the sheer charm of each and every one of them during So Long, Farewell, which is handled so well and delivered so perfectly you cannot help but smile.

Outstanding, too, is Jan Hartley as Mother Abbess whose operatic background shines like a torch in the darkest of cellars. Such is the power and resonance of her voice during Climb Ev’ry Mountain it makes goose bumps pop up across the skin by the conclusion.

Another young talent to keep an eye out for is Grace Chapman whose “Sixteen-going-on-Seventeen” Liesl is an absolute joy to watch and, above all, listen to. The way she marshals the younger cast members is just great and makes her role of eldest sister all the more credible and admirable as a result.

So there you have it. Despite being ready to wield the critical axe, it is an absolute pleasure to report that The Sound of Music is alive and well and currently residing in Liverpool’s Empire Theatre, so go grab a ticket before it, too, escapes over the hills.

The Sound of Music
The Liverpool Empire Theatre
September 14 – September 19
Music / Lyrics: Richard Rodgers / Oscar Hammerstein II
Director: Martin Connor
Producer: Bill Kenwright
Cast Includes: Danielle Hope, Steven Houghton, Jan Hartley, Grace Chapman, Emma Clifford,
Howard Samuels
Running Time: 2 hrs 40 mins
PR Rating: ***** Alive