Few musicals have the ability to make me want to sing along to the songs. In fact, there are only two, one of which is The Sound of Music (the other being Mama Mia). Perhaps, it’s because The Sound of Music evokes feelings of nostalgia in me. No, not that I grew up in the 1960s, but when I was a secondary school student, my late music teacher Mrs Seet (bless her soul) was the one who introduced me to the wonderful world of The Sound of Music.
I’ll be lying if I say I wasn’t excited at the news of the musical making its way to Singapore.
The Sound of Music started as a 1959 Broadway production, which won six prestigious Tony Awards including Best Musical. It then went on to be adapted for the big screen in 1965, and the movie starring Julie Andrews garnered five Oscars, including Best Picture. More than five decades on, The Sound of Music still shows no signs of waning popularity and continues to be the most successful musical movie in history.
The story is based on the real-life story of the Von Trapp family from Austria. Set in 1938, it revolves around Maria, who leaves Nonnberg Abbey to become the governess to the seven children of a widowed naval officer, Captain Georg von Trapp. Maria reintroduces the family to music, with herself falling in love with the Captain and marrying him in the process.
During the gala performance, the theatre at Marina Bay Sands (sorry, no hills here) was alive with the sound of music. Members of the audience could be heard singing to familiar tunes such as “My Favourite Things”, “Do-Re-Mi”, “Climb Ev’ry Mountain” and of course, title song “The Sound of Music”.
Carmen Pretorius put up a convincing performance as the sprightly young Maria. She came across as a tad too earnest in the beginning but I soon warmed up to her during her performance with the children. Incidentally, Pretorius played Liesl, the oldest von Trapp daughter, when the musical production last came to Singapore in 2014.
And the children? Their charm was palpable and they were evidently a big draw for the audience. A total of 18 young Singapore-based actors share the lead roles of Liesl, Friedrich, Brigitta, Kurt, Marta and Gretl – all cast in an audition held earlier in May this year. There was nary a dull moment each time the children came onto the stage and I particularly enjoyed “So Long, Farewell”. If I had to choose a favourite, my vote goes to little Gretl, played by Emily Kitamura during the gala. She put up an impeccable performance for her age. Well, it helped that she’s cute as a button too.
The one who stole the show for me, however, was Janelle Visagie, who played the Mother Abbess. Her vocals were uplifting and powerful, ending Act 1 on a high note. I couldn’t help but compare her strong vocals with those of Pretorius, who came on in Act 2.
With its memorable songs, heart-tugging storyline and adorable casts, it’s hard not to fall in love with The Sound of Music. I actually felt a tinge of sadness when the actors sang “So Long, Farewell” towards the last part of the performance, not wanting it to end. It was a sweet walk down memory lane for me. But for those who have never watched the film, the musical will still charm the socks off you.
What: The Sound of Music
When: 7 November to 3 December 2017
Where: MasterCard Theatres, Marina Bay Sands, Singapore