REVIEW: Hits and Misses for This ‘Sound of Music’
Another Rodgers and Hammerstein classic is on stage for Manila’s theater-going audiences. This time, The Sound of Music is inviting audiences to embark on a journey through love, family, and the resilience of the human spirit set against the backdrop of pre-World War II Austria.
This international tour lays once again onto local audiences the tale of Maria, a young nun who becomes governess to the seven children of Captain Von Trapp, ultimately winning their hearts and changing their lives forever.
For this run, local talents Markki Stroem (as Rolf) and Karylle Tatlonghari (as the Baroness) infuse this timeless classic with a touch of homegrown charm. Tatlonghari’s portrayal of the Baroness, in particular, embodies dignity and grace, making her one of the few characters that capture the audience’s attention and even admiration.
While most of the rest of the cast delivers solid performances, including Jill-Christine Wiley as Maria, none elevate the show to new heights. The glaring exception to this largely adept company is Trevor Martin as Captain Von Trapp, whose performance was an unfortunate misfire from the start.
His exaggerated portrayal detracts from the material, creating a discord that was impossible to ignore. In a show where the audience’s familiarity with the story demands a Captain with grit and gravitas, Martin’s portrayal was simply neither. Consequently, the production as a whole felt like an opportunity missed, with its potential weighed down by a weak leading performance.
It was the staging that was this production’s saving grace. Douglas Schmidt’s set design strikes a delicate balance between grandiose and minimal, ensuring that the stage feels neither barren nor overly elaborate. Despite the logistical constraints of an international touring production, the set captures the essence of each scene without distraction.
But it is Natasha Katz’s lighting design that emerges as the true star of the staging, utilizing light to set the mood, convey the passage of time, and transport audiences through the breathtaking Austrian landscape. This production demonstrates that a well-crafted set and staging can still engage the audience, even in a show they might know like the back of their hand.
Hills Are Alive
As this same story returns to our shores, one can’t help but wonder: why this show, and why again now (a previous touring production was staged in 2017)? The answer lies in the timeless nature of this musical’s themes. Beyond the memorable songs and heartwarming story of love and family, the politics of the story remain relevant particularly in these times when one can feel the banality of living within corrupt systems.
This telling of the Von Trapp family’s story is rooted in truth and marked by struggles of compromise, survival, and integrity, which is never not compelling. It has resonated with audiences since its inception nearly 64 years ago and it’s no great leap to surmise it will keep doing so for 64 years more. Not many shows can boast such a legacy.
Overall, this touring production of The Sound of Music is a mixed bag, with moments of delight–even brilliance–tempered by glaring weaknesses. Although the themes of love, family, and resilience continue to resonate, those seeking to relive the magic of this timeless tale might find this iteration a lukewarm experience.
Tickets: Php 1,904.40 - Php 6,877.00 Show Dates: March 7, 2023 to March 26, 2023 Venue: Samsung Performing Arts Theater Running Time: approx 2 hours and 45 mins (w/ a 20-minute intermission) Credits: Richard Rodgers (Music), Oscar Hammerstein II (Lyrics), Howard Lindsay (Book), Russel Crouse (Book, Jack O’Brien (Original Director), Matt Lenz (Director), Danny Mefford (Original Choreography), James Gray (Choreography), Andy Einhorn (Music Supervisor), Douglas Schmidt (Set Design), Jane Greenwood (Costume Design), Natasha Katz (Lighting Design), Shannon Slaton (Sound Design) Cast: Jill-Christine Wiley, Trevor Martin, Lauren Kidwell, Markki Stroem, Joshua La Force, Lauren O’Brien, Karylle Tatlonghari, Alli Atkenson, Gail Bennet, Patrick Cogan, Julia Anne Cohen, Sydney Demaria, Maddie Eaton, Corey Greenan, Amanda Hootman, Dayne Joyner, Cassi Mikat, Marissa O’Donnell, Sabina Petra, Ethan Pugh, Robert Rice, Julia Salatti, Thanos Skouteris, Cassidy Sledge, Sean Thompson, Daniel Karash, Audrey Simone Winters, Desmond Elyseev, Lydia De Jesus, Penny Hodson, Olive Ross-Kline, Xander Nicholson, Olivia O’Sullivan Company: Broadway International Group / GMG Productions