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Review: The Sound of Music is a refreshing reminder of its theatrical origins

Irish stars Lucy O’Byrne and Celine Byrne shine in the iconic story

In this story - based on the autobiography of Maria von Trapp - the family escapes across the mountains.

Bord Gáis Energy Theatre

★★★★

So iconic is the 1965 film version, it is easy to forget that The Sound of Music began its life on Broadway. This new production, directed by Michael Connor, is a refreshing reminder of its theatrical origins. The design is framed by receding proscenium arches, easily transforming from a convent to the countryside, and the von Trapp villa to a village concert hall. The theatrical frame also anticipates the fate of the von Trapp family, as they are transformed from a fractured household into a folk band, whose fame enables their escape from Nazi-occupied Austria.

           The UK touring production is anchored by two Irish talents, Lucy O’Byrne and Celine Byrne. Rodgers and Hammerstein’s well-known score blends choral and operatic influence with folk flourishes, and O’Byrne, as struggling novitiate Maria, has the wide range to deliver on all fronts. Her scenes with the seven von Trapp children are a particular delight, as she channels their mischief into song, with Bill Deamer’s choreography ensuring a physical liveliness to match. Her duet with the softening Captain (Neil McDermott), An Ordinary Couple, is also memorable. In the closing number of Act One, meanwhile, Byrne brings grace and gravity to her grand solo, Climb Ev’ry Mountain, setting up the darker mood that follows the interval.

           As Act Two begins, the family drama gives way to political imperatives: the Nazis have overtaken Austria and want the fiercely nationalist Captain to join them. Younger audience members will surely struggle with the thickening plot and tonal severity, but older children and their parents will appreciate the emotional truth of the downbeat finale. In this story - based on the autobiography of Maria von Trapp - the family escapes across the mountains they love and know so well to a happy future in America. However, there were millions who were not so lucky.

Runs until January 6th