“Solid and massively entertaining “
*** 3 Stars
Edinburgh longest running amateur dramatic society The Southern Light Opera Company are marking their 125th Anniversary with their first full production to be staged at the Festival Theatre (The Edinburgh King’s is now closed for its renovation.) And remarkably there bringing the Roger and Hammerstein Classic the Sound of Music to the stage for the first time.
The Sound of Music itself is marking its 63rd birthday this year and thanks to the 1965 motion picture featuring the legendary Dame Julie Andrews there can’t be a soul in the English speaking world who has not seen or heard of the show telling the true life story of the Von Trapp Family (although heavily dramatised on stage and screen) were love wins out and the family fight back against the Nazi occupation it features some of the most beautiful music ever scored.
The SLO have not only had to adjust to a new home but also a new time slot moving from the Spring 2023 to the opening slot of the theatres Autumn and Winter season at the Festival Theatre following hot on the heels of the capitals festival season.
SLO succeed in delivering a solid and massively entertaining evening of musical theatre and flooding the Auditorium with that gorgeous score delivered by a polished orchestra in the Pit.
Performances are on the whole really rather good but there are some iffy accents at play as well many performers simply rushing the lines but as the show comes in at a lengthy 2 hours 45 minutes its understandable.
In the title role of “Maria Rainer” Cathy Geddie delivers a sugary sweet performance that occasionally can feel just a little too naive however she possess a voice that’s soaked in honey and simply gorgeous to listen too. John Bruce plays “Captain Georg Von Trap” which he does with total conviction and his opening up of the characters feelings as he falls in love with Maria is judged perfectly plus his rich voice gives it depth. Zorbey Turklap’s take on “Max Detweiler” is overtly camp and is sitting on the edge of being just too camp to the point its distracting thankfully he reins it in enough to make the character work. Elspeth White plays “Baroness Elsa Schraeder” and she is sublime at delivering a “bitchy” character in style but her talent is ensuring she always give the character real heart.
The true stand out performance has to go to Debora Ruiz-Kordova as “Mother Abbess” my word is this a west end worthy performance at work. Her thrilling climax to act 1 singing “Climb Every Mountain” would give any west end soprano a run for their money! A joyous moment indeed.
Two sets of children share the roles of the Von Trap Kids and the “Edelweiss Cast” on press night turned in a polished and assured performance and gives real depth and colour to the overall show.
Director Quintin Young has delivered much and the use of large thrust stage to aid the transitions between scenes works wonderfully well but more should have be done to use the thrust further and bring the action closer to the audience. That said the opening scene which uses the boxes either side of the stage is stunning and high emotive.
Production wise there were a few issues, Sound isn’t quite there yet but hopefully the little flaws will iron out as the run progresses and the Set on occasion floated from side to side on more than one occasion as if a fly cue or two had been missed. James Gow’s Lighting design is spot on the money bringing a traditional theatrical feel to the production peppered with moments of sublime atmosphere thanks to his inventive lighting design.
Louise Williamson’s choreography also delivers in spades bringing an enriching context to the overall show that’s perfectly in keeping with the piece. This is further enhanced by Kate Dixon excellent wardrobe design that never falters especially through vast number of costumes changes achieved by the principals.
The greatest element of the sound of music is just that the Music and Musical Director Tommie Travers has been able to coax amazing vocal performances across the company as well as bringing to life that gorgeous score thanks to his 25 piece pit orchestra under his baton it truly adds a refined polish to the production.
SLO should be proud of themselves and each other given the difficulties they have faced in getting the show to the stage and the incredibly short rehearsal period that ensured the curtain has gone up on a rock solid production that is loaded with potential to go even further! A show that’s worth climbing any mountain to grab a ticket!
The SLO presents, The Sound of Music, Festival Theatre, Edinburgh, Runs until Saturday 10th September for tickets go to: Southern Light: The Sound Of Music (capitaltheatres.com)