Opening Night verdict ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Manchester’s Palace Theatre well and truly came to life last night as the audience leapt to their feet to give the stars of The Sound of Music, most notably Lucy O’Byrne (Maria) and Megan Llewellyn (Mother Abbess) a well-deserved standing ovation.
Set in Austria in 1938 on the eve of the Anschluss which saw Austria unite with Germany as a country under the Third Reich, the threat of the Nazis is ever presents as we follow the Von Trapp’s from the grandeur of their comfortable beginnings to their daring escape from the Nazis.
Lucy O’Byrne takes on the iconic role made famous by Julie Andrews in the 1965 film with charm and charisma. Gentle and kind but with a steely strong will she faces her fears head on as after being appointed Governess, she gently guides the Von Trapp’s from the limbo of grief after losing their mother to living life to its absolute fullest, all through the medium of song, well this is a musical after all!
O’Byrne’s vocals are faultless, her voice smooth and soothing with beautiful clarity. Her interactions with her fellow cast members particularly the seven Von Trapp children, heart-warming and joyful. She has genuine warmth and succeeds entirely in making the role her own. Instantly likeable she captivates entirely.
The Von Trapp children played by three sets of children throughout the tour are the marching machines the Captain has trained who burst with energy and enthusiasm the minute Maria plays the first chord of Do-Re-Mi. They shine on stage and are a delight to watch. Special mention goes to Katie Shearman who portrays eldest daughter Liesl with real emotion, her duet with Rolf (Jordan Oliver) a real highlight.
Neil McDermott is an aloof and distant Captain Von Trapp who transforms into a loving and generous father, it is a somewhat instant transformation that feels a little forced and awkward, he seems much more comfortable however in Act II and demonstrates real and heart-felt emotion towards his children, his new wife and his beloved Austria.
A real highlight are the sisters of the Abbey, proving that Rodgers and Hammerstein’s melodic score remains as timeless as ever. Their ensemble performances are exquisite with the cherry on the cake being the breathtakingly beautiful performance from Megan Llewellyn who receives one of the biggest cheers of the night at the curtain call. The power and beauty in her voice is awe-inspiring.
From stunning costumes to Gary McCann’s intricate and sweeping set this is a lavish and hugely entertaining production. Featuring classic after classic such as the delightful My Favourite Things, the charming The Lonely Goatherd and the inspiring Climb Ev’ryMountain, The Sound of Music has it all. There are a few numbers which will be unfamiliar to many, mostly those sung by Elsa Schraeder (Kara Lane) and Max Detweiler (Howard Samuels) cut unfortunately from the film but making a very welcome return to this production and adding depth to the characters. Lane and Samuels make for a great duo, bouncing of each other wonderfully in each of their scenes together.
Visually beautiful and packed with powerful performances, The Sound of Music does not disappoint. This heart-warming tale with an important message at its core will entertain both young and old alike, ensuring this classic will easily remain an audience favourite for many, many more years to come. You’ll leave the theatre with a smile on your face and a warmth in your heart.
On at the Palace theatre until Saturday 17th March tickets available here.