Friday, October 21, 2016

reviews - THE SOUND OF MUSIC - National Tour: ASU Gammage

Ben Davis and Kerstin Anderson
Photo by Matthew Murphy
highlights from local critics reviews - (click link at bottom of each review to read complete review)

Click here for more information on this production that runs through October 23rd.

"There’s something that happens near the beginning of the new national touring production of The Sound of Music, now performing at ASU Gammage until October 23, and it immediately tells you that this is not business as usual. It’s during the first few minutes when the nuns of the Nonnberg Abbey gather for the Preludum. There they are, standing in line, singing, and waiting for Mother Abbess (Melody Betts) to enter. ...As Mother Abbess reaches the space where Maria should be, she stops, checks the empty space and does a double-take. And that’s the moment; that second or two of brief comedic business that tells you everything that follows in this production is going to be slightly different than what came prepared for a surprise. Director Jack O’Brien has done something quite remarkable with this new revival. With new inflection and a new delivery, dialog heard spoken many times before suddenly sounds completely different, and considerably more humorous. It’s as if a new shot of theatrical adrenaline has been administered. ...It’s fresh. And so it is with almost every other element in this hugely entertaining new production....
Anderson plays Maria in a way vastly different from Mary Martin’s original Maria, or even that of Julie Andrews. ...Within moments of meeting the children, there’s a bond established that feels completely authentic. Plus, her voice is a pleasure. Even the captain feels as though he’s received a new lease on life. Captain von Trapp was always in danger of being portrayed as a stern plank of wood, a character that changes only somewhat once he realizes he’s fallen in love with the governess, but as played by Ben Davis, even though that sternness is initially evident, you can see the warmth of a real person emerging at an earlier moment than usually portrayed. ... " -David Appleford, Valley Screen and Stage (click here to read the complete review)

"From the Oscar winning film to countless local productions, the beloved Rodgers and Hammerstein musical The Sound of Music is one that almost everyone has seen, most likely numerous times. Yet the current national tour provides the opportunity to experience this classic musical almost like it is a brand new show. Chalk that up to a cast and creative team that are firing on all cylinders to instill this production with a heightened sense of spontaneity that results in a fresh and joyous experience.
The Sound of Music follows the story of postulant Maria as she serves as a governess for a naval captain's seven children in Austria once it seems a religious life isn't in her future. The Captain and Maria find themselves falling in love just as the Nazi regime is about to invade Austria....
Director Jack O'Brien is to be commended for bringing a fresh take to this familiar story. His leads bring an impulsiveness to their characters that makes them seem real, honest and natural. His staging is fluid and almost cinematic at times as he expertly uses Douglas W. Schmidt's large and lush scenic design to paint some beautiful stage pictures and swiftly move us from one scene to the next. ...Kerstin Anderson's Maria is both human and humorous. Anderson is stunning in her portrayal of the many layers of Maria. ...Throughout, her every action is natural, with some of the most famous lines delivered in a way that makes them seem like they are being heard for the first time. Anderson has a superb singing voice which soars on many of the score's best known songs. As the Captain, Ben Davis is adept at showing how this stern man softens once Maria comes into his life. He has a stellar voice with deep and rich tones and he and Anderson form a passionate duo. Melody Betts brings a realism and earthiness to Mother Abbess. Her warmth and strong personality nicely balance the strong and softer sides of this powerful woman, and her delivery of "Climb Every Mountain" soars....The Sound of Music is a classic show. With a first rate cast and excellent direction that masterfully combine to instill a freshness into the familiar story, the national tour is an almost perfect production of one of the best loved musicals of all time. " -Gil Benbrook, Talkin' Broadway (click here to read the complete review)

"In 1959 when “The Sound of Music’s” stage version premiered on Broadway, critics slammed the sentimental show that starred a too-old Mary Martin as Maria, the young postulant turned governess to Captain Von Trapp’s motherless brood of seven children.  Family audiences loved the cloying story and, as younger replacement stars took over from Martin, the show accumulated a respectable 1,443 performance run. ...“The Sound of Music’s” stage versions dried up as people focused on the superior movie.  ...The revised stage version remains popular because audiences expect the movie....It doesn’t have an especially good Maria in Kerstin Anderson who doesn’t deliver anything approaching Julie Andrews’ enchanting film performance.  It has an undistinguished and often disappointing supporting cast, and the awkwardly moving physical production fails to capture Salzburg’s beauty.  Even award-winning Broadway director Jack O’Brien struggles with the nearly three hour show producing a plodding tale loaded with mediocrity and with no new zest or surprises.... " --Chris Curcio, KBAQ (click here to read the complete review)

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