Thursday, November 16, 2006

The Sound Of Praise

The Sound Of Praise

Almost despite its dubious beginnings in a British reality series in which its Maria came out of nowhere (OK, so Belfast is somewhere!), Andrew Lloyd Webber's The Sound Of Music apparently has disproved the naysayers by hitting all the right notes.

Offering up a four out of five star review, The Times' self-described Sound Of Music "nerd" Benedict Nightingale sings the show's praises: "Connie Fisher overcame a nervy give a fine singing and even acting performance as the nun turned governess and governess turned wife, Maria. And Alexander Hanson was so sound as her employer turned husband, Captain von Trapp, that he could have been playing the role for as long as box-office success will surely compel him to perform it. Add Lesley Garrett as a Mother Superior with a voice so ample and rich that it shrinks the Palladium to the size of the Black Hole of Calcutta, and she, Fisher and Hanson could be in their jobs for years."

Also providing four out of five stars is The Guardian's Michael Billington, who sounds a sweet note: "[W]hatever one thinks of the process of casting a lead role through a TV elimination game, the truth is that Connie Fisher ('the people's Maria') occupies the Palladium stage with absolute confidence and winning charm....As for the musical itself, I found it surprisingly enjoyable."

Paul Taylor of The Independent clearly concurs: "She's enchantingly fresh and ardent and she sings with a voice that can range from piping purity to soft tenderness. That's the test : you want her to be your naughty big sister and your reliable mother combined....Climb every mountain? Sure, and after this show you'll want to do a little dance, too, on the summit."

Admitting that his "eyes were often unexpectedly filled with tears," Charles Spencer of The Telegraph absolutely gushes: "Connie Fisher...makes an absolutely enchanting Maria in Jeremy Sams's opulent production, handsomely designed by Robert Jones, that pays Rodgers and Hammerstein the compliment of taking the musical seriously, never once descending into camp. Indeed...this is a show whose time has surely come again."

Despite awarding only three out of five stars, The Evening Standard's Nicholas de Jongh confesses, "I saw the light. I at last understood what drives plenty of adults, as well as youngsters, to go wild with pleasure over The Sound Of Music.... Although Fisher's Maria pleased me, The Sound Of Music sadly leaves me unstirred."

Well, if this much praise can be heaped on a stage show whose central character has been found via a reality TV show, perhaps it will attract individuals who never would have thought of taking in a theatrical production before. And maybe, just maybe, some of them will bring along -- and inspire -- their children, who will gain an affinity for the magic that can only be found in live theatre.

This is Steve On Broadway (SOB).

Click here for tickets.
Related Stories:
It's A Reality: The Sound Of Music Revival Comes Alive In London Tonight (November 15, 2006)
I've Got Chills, They're Multiplying: NBC Reality Show to Cast Grease (August 8, 2006)
The Hills Were Almost Alive with the Sound of Johansson (July 27, 2006)
Music to London Palladium's Ears (May 17, 2006)

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At 16 November, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for the update Steve!

At 17 November, 2006, Blogger Steve On Broadway (SOB) said...

My pleasure.

I have to say that reading the reviews was a pleasant surprise. The one stage version of "The Sound of Music" I ever saw -- at Lincoln Center in the early 90s -- was not that memorable. In my mind, the movie is far superior. So I'm surprised, but delighted, to see that most critics were singing the show's praises.

Of course, for better or worse, it also means that NBC's project with "You're The One That We Want" will probably move full speed ahead regardless of whether we really want another "Grease" revival so soon.


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