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    The Sound of Music

    A Brief Visit to 1930s Austria – The Sound of Music

    Over three very hot evenings this week Bishop Ramsey was transported to the hills of Austria for ‘The Sound of Music’ this years summer production.

    The film version is known to millions however the original stage show is more complex and poignant and the students have been working hard rehearsing for several months to regain the feel of 1930’s Austria and the threat of Nazi domination.

    The production involved three casts including a total of 20 Von Trapp children.

    The demanding part of Maria was played by Katie Hall (8A) and Ayesha Adey (12.8). Both talented actresses brought their own interpretation of the part to the stage showing the characters journey from the wayward nun who loves to sing, to inexperienced governess so loved by the children they stop playing tricks to  her love for her employer Captain Von Trapp and the horror of Nazi Germany trying to wreck their lives. Katie and Ayesha both showed sincerity and depth in their roles as their character grapples with earthly and heavenly love.  Katie was funny and forthright whilst Ayesha was movingly vulnerable when the emotional stakes were high. Both girls’ lovely voices and their rapport with the children was spontaneous. The scene where they tell Von Trapp about his misunderstanding of the children was especially moving.

    Nathann Pike (10S) and AJ Russell-Sjollema (12.8) beautifully conveyed the melting of Captain Von Trapp’s grief-frozen heart under Maria’s influence.  Both students showed maturity in their roles moving from the stern widower and father who loved his children but could not let them have fun to the convivial Navy hero who loves Maria, his children and his country. Nathann and AJ developed their characterisation and their portrayals of the man who loved his country so much that he had to leave it for good were poignant and moving and left us wondering would we have the guts to stand up and fight or succumb.

    Von Trapp’s friends Elsa (to whom he is engaged briefly) and Max brought glamour and humour to the production. Elsa is often seen as a ‘bad’ character and Georgia Hunt (9E), Charlotte Williams (9R) and Amie Sullivan (12.6) gave three very different  renderings of the role. Amie played it much softer and loveable and the audience almost felt sorry for her when she broke off her engagement to the Captain, whilst Georgia and Charlotte were more business like. All three however showed that Elsa was clearly a sympathiser of the new regime in Austria as is demonstrated in the song ‘No way to stop it’.

    Max is the comedy role in the show and Alfie Hall (11A) , Nadelle Yawson (9R) and Kamilah Adey (9R) clearly understood the part getting the audience laughs.

    Possibly one of the hardest parts is the Mother Abbess who has the climax of Act 1 in Climb Every Mountain. This very difficult song was sung well by Lydia Wilkinson (10Y) and Hannah Dowsett (10Y) as well as the opening of the nuns chorus which to add complication is in Latin.

    Of course at the centre of the show are the Von Trapp children – all seven of them. In Bishop Ramsey version the seven were played by 20 so there were many combinations which had meant a lot of rehearsal. Liesl the eldest who does not think of herself as a child was played by Rachel Dunleavey (10S) and Janette Osan (12.7). Both interpreted the innocence of being ’16 going on 17’ and first love with the telegram boy Rolf – Sonny Middlebrook (10E), Chris Tarsey (11A), Alfie Hall (11A) well. We also saw their horror when Rolf became a member of Hitler youth and nearly betrays the family.

    The popular songs were all performed well starting with them learning about music via Do a Deer, The Lonely Goatherd with use of hand puppets to So Long Farewell.

    The children each had their own characters and personalities and the audience loved their fun and excitement.

    The show ended on dark note as Captain Von Trapp is ordered to his ship for the German Navy and in order to buy time the entire family perform at the concert. The much loved Edelweiss strikingly sung by the Captain and then the family was mad even  more expressive surrounded by the Nazi flags and the tense lighting. The final scene of the family leaving their beloved Austria is made more  tender by the knowledge that this is a true story.

    After much applause the evening ended with a singsong of the shows most popular songs with audience participation.

    The majority of the costumes for this years productions were made by professional director Jonathan Clift. They were based on the original show designs, Austrian national costume and 1930s designs. Due to the nature of the show there were many costume changes but all were managed fluently. Probably the Captain’s uniform and the wedding dress were everyone’s favourite.

    The show also required technical help and thanks go to all students on sound and lighting and to Miss Neal stage manager and Mr Winn Assistant Stage Manager for swiftly moving scene to scene.

    Ms Jankauskaite was the musical director in her first production for the school and conducted the talented orchestra. Miss Rottman was the vocal coach throughout and trained the students to the high standard of singing

    The entire production was directed by Mrs Simmons in her last show for Bishop Ramsey as she moves on to a new school. As usual the production recognised her own style and interpretation of the show and has been challenging in rehearsal. It was directed with the right simplicity and emotion with a simple design.  Once again a very successful show has been produced and Mrs Simmons will be missed but we wish her well in the future.