The national tour of THE SOUND OF MUSIC is an unexpected surprise, at least for me. When I think of this classic Rodgers and Hammerstein, it’s hard to get excited. How can anyone do it better than Julie Andrews in the classic film version? (And poor Carrie Underwood sure tried.) But Kerstin Anderson, this tour’s “Maria,” might just be better than the iconic version we all know and love.
If so, then one must give credit also to Ben Davis, who plays “Captain Von Trapp” with restraint and palpable internal conflict. His chemistry with Anderson smolders and builds and gives the show the heat and heart. You’re rooting for them both from the outset of their relationship and despite the second act being about twenty minutes longer than it probably needs to be, the gorgeous staging of their wedding is a visual treat for romantics everywhere.
This show wouldn’t work without the children. The seven Von Trapp children sing beautifully and most of their acting is above average. It was a joy each time they appeared on stage and again, Anderson’s remarkable stage presence and authentic interactions with them makes this show a winner.
Anderson, who left her Bachelor’s program to join the tour, is a natural. She is innocent, but wicked; naïve but smart as a whip. And her very pleasant dressing down of Captain Von Trapp is a highlight of the show. Her performance is excellent. Also enjoyable is the much needed comic relief of Merwin Foard as “Max Detweiler,” the young and crushing “Leisl” and “Rolf” (Paige Silverster and Austin Colby), and the rest of the principal characters.
The sets are simple and lavish at the same time and the show looks beautiful. It sounded good, too. I only caught one missed mic cue and the vocals are often times stunning. Melody Betts (“The Mother Abbess”), who got good reactions from this opening night audience, wowed with her climactic note during “Climb Ev’ry Mountain” and the harmonies of the nuns and children would make any vocal group jealous.
THE SOUND OF MUSIC is a favorite of many people; this tour will not only appeal to those who love it already but also new audiences who are discovering it for the first time. I highly recommend it.
THE SOUND OF MUSIC plays at the Aronoff Center for the Arts through October 9th. Click here for more information.