Musical review: The Sound of Music, The National Theatre

The iconic musical returns for another opportunity to revisit a few of your favourite songs.
The Sound of Music. Image is a woman in a white nightgown sitting on a bed singing to the seven children sitting and standing around her.

It’s a daunting endeavour to take one of the world’s most well-known movie musicals onto the stage and try to live up to the original and much loved cast, in particular the brilliant Julie Andrews, who played the lead character of Maria on film… Yet, Theatrical has managed to deliver a stunning show with its production of The Sound of Music, with Tayla Dwyer (a finalist in The Voice 2018) shining brightly as Maria and a huge cast coming together to share this classic story of love and courage. 

Based on the 1949 memoir of Maria von Trapp, The Sound of Music by Rodgers & Hammerstein premiered on Broadway in 1959 and won five Tony Awards, before the 1965 movie went on to win five Oscars. Set in Austria on the verge of World War II, it’s the story of a young nun-in-training or postulant who is sent to work as the governess for seven children. She brings the joy of music back into their orderly and strict lives, and soon captures the heart of Captain Georg von Trapp – the children’s widowed father, and a highly decorated naval officer. 

Featuring 25 musical numbers, a 16-piece live orchestra and a 43-person cast, including 12 young actors who share the roles of the six youngest von Trapp children, Theatrical’s production of The Sound of Music is an epic undertaking for an independent theatre company. 

While Dwyer is a clear standout with an amazing voice and stage presence, Kate Thurkle is also dazzling in the role of Baroness Elsa Schraeder – Maria’s rival for the captain’s attention. Matteo Maxwell, who played Kurt von Trapp on opening night, is perfectly charming and goofy and Adeline Baker was adorable as the youngest of the children, Gretl.

John Parncutt, however, is a little lacking in credibility as Captain von Trapp and could take example from Amanda Stevenson who plays Mother Abbess with a firm conviction and warmth.

Overall, The Sound of Music is an entertaining and endearing production combining live music, dancing and some great performances. It will no doubt improve during the run. While the official media release invites the audience to sing along, opening night was fairly quiet with everyone focused on appreciating the talent on stage. Perhaps, as the cast find their groove, future audiences will become more vocal and involved in coming weeks.

Finally, a quick mention to the set designer, Bianca Pardo. The backdrops and props for the monastery, garden/Alps and von Trapp family home are detailed enough to conjure a vivid image of each location, but simple enough to not distract or take away from the show’s heroes, story and music. Someone may want to put a brick or two inside Maria’s travel bag to give it some weight though…

Read: Book review: The Rewilding, Donna M Cameron

This is a nostalgic opportunity to revisit an old favourite musical and songs such as ‘Do-Re-Mi’, ‘Sixteen Going On Seventeen’ and ‘So Long, Farewell’. It will delight theatre and musical lovers alike and, despite its length (approximately three hours including intermission), children seem to love it too!

The Sound of Music
The National Theatre, Melbourne
Director: Karen Shnider
Musical Director: Kent Ross
Choreographer: Suzie Pappas
Assistant Musical Director: Alex Byrne
Assistant to the Director: Burnie Dariol
Production Coordinator: Millie Shanks
Production Assistant: Maria Nascimento
Executive Producer: Andrew Gyopar

Cast: Tayla Dwyer, John Parncutt, Amanda Stevenson, Brett O’Meara, Kate Thurkle, Charlotte Holland, Damon Willis, Luca Moutsos, Stephanie Adamson, Niki Georgas, Matteo Maxwell, Ethan Lockhart, Ruby McGrath, Jessica Brown, Xoli McGinnes, Ayda Melody Hendricks, Adeline Baker, Penelope Amato-Gifford, Kael D’Alterio, Shivanii Cameron, Keren Evans, Manon Franiatte, Christine Wood, Mark Curran     
Ensemble: Felix Banvillet, Catherine Bates, Thaii Berry, Amelia Davies, Jeremy Grigg, Aimee Forrest, M Ho, Chelsea Homan, Phoebe Jansz, Joel Keat, Murron Kennedy-Cupples, Madeleine Lacy, Princeton Leonard, Yvette Lipovetsky, Jessi Neilsen Carreño, Fergus Rann, Alyssa Sorgiovanni, Sarah Stapleton, Trevor Stockton

The Sound of Music will be performed until 17 March 2024.

Mia Ferreira is a professional writer and freelance Marketing, PR and Social Media consultant based in Melbourne, with an interest in wellbeing, sustainability and travel. She is completing the prestigious Professional Editing & Writing course at RMIT and balances all the thinking and typing by practicing and teaching Iyengar yoga.