Friday, June 14, 2013


Springers at the Civic Theatre, Chelmsford

Rodgers and Hammerstein's late great musical comes back to the Civic, in a lively and stylish production directed by Pam Corrie.
The opening sets the standard for the chorus work – all those nuns – and for the design – slightly surreal cabinets full of candles.
Chief ornament of the show is Kayleigh McEvoy's marvellous Maria. Beautifully sung, with a soup├žon of humour and superb stage presence, melting the heart of her stern naval captain [Mat Smith].
The seven children she cares for are carefully characterized, from Liesl [Mae Pettigrew], sixteen going on seventeen, with a crush on the telegram boy, impressively done by Aaron Crowe, to Charlotte Golden's little Gretl. Bethan Evans makes a charmingly perceptive Brigitta.
Abbess Catherine Gregory delivers a powerful anthem, and duets wonderfully with Maria in Favourite Things.
This confident, big-hearted production has many memorable moments, not least the moon and the mountain in the final tableau. Like good Austrian patriots, we sing along to Edelweiss, undaunted by the SS officers in the auditorium. The complex scene changes are swiftly accomplished, though some black holes remain, not all of them covered by music.
Plainchant, Viennese waltz, wedding music, all very impressive – Ian Myers the Musical Director. Sometimes the sense and the emotion of the dialogue could be pointed up more. Diction is variable – not just the German and the Italian, either. And the sophisticated musical comedy trio [Barry Miles as Max, with Olivia Gooding a cool, elegant Elsa] seems rather staid.
Always good to rediscover the show behind the film, and this production certainly delighted the midweek audience in a packed Civic. Springers have a distinguished history, reviving both the big hits and the cult classics – up next is Whistle Down The Wind, at the Cramphorn in November.

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