The hills of Innerleithen are alive with The Sound of Music this week.
Leading the cast of Innerleithen Opera’s production as Maria is Nicola Watt who is in fine voice as she teaches the young von Trapps to sing their Do-Re-Mis. Nicola brings warmth and a real sense of fun to the part, which is a tour de force with around a dozen musical numbers.
She takes all of this in her stride, delivering each song with all the verve that Rodgers and Hammerstein intended.
Alongside Maria is the reserved character of Captain von Trapp. In this role, Stewart Wilson excels. His transformation from strict disciplinarian to loving father and husband is smooth and believable. It’s great to see a captain who sings and his musical numbers hit just the right note, with a very emotional rendition of Edelweiss.
Playing her first major role for the society for several years, Claire Bell is the Baroness, Elsa Schraeder. Claire is every bit the femme fatale and her scenes with impresario Max Detweiler, played to perfection by Innerleithen stalwart John Armstrong. They provide some of the show’s best lines. Their task of delivering some of the lesser-know musical numbers this is something that they obviously relish for both are in fine voice.
Esther McGinn is an imposing figure as the Mother Abbess and her delivery of the anthem Climb Every Mountain left not a dry eye in the house at the close of the first act at Monday’s opening night. Earlier, the Mother Abbess is joined by the contrasting characters of Sister Berthe (Helen Gault), Sister Margaretta (Kathy Flynn) and Sister Sophia (Anne McKinnon). Their How Do You Solve a Problem Like Maria? is another high point of the show.
Leading the von Trapp children is Angela Thomson as Liesl. Angela is a natural in the part and is a great role model for her six younger siblings, as well as being in fine form as a singer and dancer. The production team at Innerleithen surely pulled a master stroke by casting two separate sets of younger von Trapps, with the teams playing alternate performances. Both sets of children steal the show every time they appear. From the show-stopper Do-Re-Mi to their good-night song, So Long, Farewell, the children are simply superb. Take a bow: Joe Giegeich and Jamie Gordon (Friedrich), Heather Smith and Alice Jones (Louisa), Alex Paterson and Robbie Bell (Kurt), Rose Moncur and Rhiann Hamilton (Brigitta), Sophie Watt and Lizzie Bell (Marta) and Grace Crichton and Evie Clancey (Gretl).
The part of Rolf, the telegram boy turned Nazi, and Liesl’s love interest, is taken by Felix Kennedy-Somerville. The pair do extremely well in the popular Sixteen Going on Seventeen.
Tom Harrison is brash and menacing as the Gauleiter, Herr Zeller, while David Brown brings slightly more compassion to his role as Admiral von Schreiber. Every estate must have its servants, and Captain von Trapp is well served by Peter Anderson as Franz, the butler, and Leanne Young as Frau Schmidt, the housekeeper.
Innerleithen’s strong ladies’ chorus is heard to its full potential throughout the show as they portray the nuns of Nonnberg Abbey. From a truly uplifting a cappella opening number, their power and depth grow as the show progresses. This is testimony to the work they put over the winter months as well as the leadership of musical director, Derek Calder. Maria’s I Have Confidence imaginatively involves the male chorus, giving them a rare chance (in this show) to strut their stuff.
The Goatherd Fantasy is played out charmingly by three of the Society’s dancers (Gillian Rendle, Alexina Hamilton and Amy Barber) who are joined by a cute herd of little goats! (Emma Belleville, Aishling Bradford, Cheyenne Hay, Alana Smith, Imogen Smith and Helena Tipper).
Top marks go to producer Brian McGlasson and choreographer Anne Anderson whose influences can be clearly seen throughout the production, with many touches that only serve to enhance this well-known musical.
The orchestra is under the expert direction of John Howden, while backstage a well-oiled machine is presenting a slick production.
A few tickets are still available for the remaining evening performances, but hurry, if you don’t want to miss this excellent show. Ticket hotline: 0845 224 1908.
Maria Rainer Nicole Watt
Sister Berthe Helen Gault
Sister Margaretta Kathy Flynn
Mother Abbess Esther Gilchrist
Sister Sophia Anne McKinnon
Capt Georg von Trapp Stewart Wilson
Franz Peter Anderson
Frau Schmidt Leanne Young
The von Trapp children
Liesel Angela Thomson
Tues Thur Sat Mon Wed Fri Sat mat
Friedrich Joe Geigericht Jamie Gordon
Louisa Heather Smith Alice Jones
Kurt Alexander Paterson Rabbie Bell
Brigitta Rose Moncur Rhiann Hamilton
Marta Sophie Watt Lizzie Bell
Gretl Grace Crichton Evie Clancey
Rolf Gruber Felix Kennedy Somerville
Elsa Schraeder Claire Bell
Max Detweiler John Armstrong
Baron Elberfeld Tom Mills
Baroness Elberfeld Ella Muir
Admiral von Schreiber David Brown
Nuns, postulants, party guests and Nazis
Amy Barber, Angela Barber, Rose Dawe, Pam Fraser, Kristeen Gilmore, Alexina Hamilton, Norma Henry, Barbara Allan Jones, Wilma Knox, Ross McGinn, Tom Mills, Ella Muir, Anne Peacock, Gillian Rendle, Jennifer Russell, Sehila Smith, Ian Stewart, Mark Taylor, Steve Treacy
Gillian Rendle, Amy Barber, Alexina Hamilton, Emma Belleville, Aishling Bradford, Cheyenne Hay, Alana Smith, Imogen Smith, Helena Tipper
Producer Brian McGlasson
Musical director Derek Calder
Choreography Anne Anderson
Conductor John Howden
Jane Greig, Alison Galbraith, Susan Matasavska, Moira Landels, Anne Valentine, Fiona Donaldson, Kate Wake/Stella Henzil, Caroline Snell/Alistair Rushworth, Bill Blackwood, Daniel T Ward, Claire Garnett/Rainer Thonnes, Scott Forrest, Sylvia Smail, Peter Horsfall, Gillian Maitland, Derek Calder