Wednesday, December 7

The Sound of Music – Rotherham Civic Theatre

The Sound of Music – based on the true story of the von Trapp family and taken from Maria von Trapp’s memoir, ‘The Story of the Trapp Family Singers’ has wowed audiences and critics alike since its Broadway debut in 1959. With their last collaboration of music and lyrics by Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II and the book by Howard Lindsay and Russel Crouse, the musical is a timeless classic. After winning five Tony Awards including Best Musical, it was adapted into an award-winning film in 1961 starring Julie Andrews and Christopher Plummer.

This romantic and unforgettable musical takes place in Austria as a time of impending war. Lively novitiate Maria, how has clear cut plans to become a nun even though she has trouble following the rules of the abbey. Wisely, Maria is sent by Mother Abbess to govern the Widower Baron von Trapp’s seven Children. She arrives to find a dour and loveless house where the children are treated as a ship’s company instead of family.  Maria wins over the children as they begin to spread their wings, introducing them to music, laughter, joy and merriment. As the captain contemplates marriage to Frau Schraeder (a wealthy widow) Austria slowly falls under the sway of the German Reich. Baron Von Trapp’s heart is slowly but surely melted by Maria and they eventually marry. Von Trapp is given orders to report to the German Navy immediately, as Austria falls. As the Nazi’s arrive to escort the Baron, an elaborate plan involving the family’s singing is hatched by their friend Max, hopefully buying them enough time to escape…

Wickersley Youngstars have been waiting impatiently since 2020 to bring their youthful and emerging talent to the stage and with The Sound of Music they have finally made it! A big thank you must go to the hard working production team who give these young performers a stage and the training they crave, enabling them to experience the power of the Arts first-hand. So, Co-directed by Jonah Thompson and Sally Ormesher with some lovely choreography from Summer Williams and Lucy swift and a top-notch band led by expertly by Steve Trotter, the Wickersley Youngstars take us a journey we are familiar with, one of hope in a time of uncertainty.

It was a delight to see such young performers working so diligently together to create their version of this well-known story. The cast worked as just that, a cast. They had obviously put a lot of work into a production that is perhaps a little ‘old fashioned’ in comparison to the musicals of today. There were some lovely performances by both the principal characters and members of the ensemble. To mention a few – Calleigh Cottrell as Maria has a very powerful voice that will only develop further with age, she is easy to watch and is very confident on the stage for one so young. Cottrell had some lovely little subtle touches to her demeanour and expressions – she’s definitely one to watch out for in the future! Imogen Brooksbank was impressive and played a perfect Brigitta and Oliver Wood was an energetic and delightful Kurt, I found myself drawn to these two very young performers whenever they were on stage. Georgie White’s Gretl was beguiling and confidently portrayed, she fitted the part perfectly. Alana Tomlinson as Liesl and Chris Thorpe as Ralf performed a very genuine and believable rendition of ‘Sixteen Going on Seventeen’ which was one of my favourite numbers in the show.  I must mention Leo Moreman who had the first speaking line in the show, this young man was nothing but adorable and a real show stealer, especially when carrying glasses as a waiter at the party!

If I had to choose, my favourite number of the show had to be the simplicity of Ellie Habbin’s (Mother Abbess) Climb Every Mountain. Habbin simple held the audience in the palm of her hand. This young lady really impressed me, her vocal was beautiful, but her sincerity was almost spiritual – a wonderful performance that deserved the cheers it received from the audience.

If you haven’t got tickets to see this show, I would highly recommend you go and buy some before it closes on Friday 4th November 2022. Our theatre, our youth need the support they deserve, it is so heart-warming to see young people engaged with the Arts in such a way and to witness their journeys into adulthood as they climb every mountain … and follow their dream!

Reviewer: Tracey Bell

Reviewed: 1st November 2022

North West End UK Rating: ★★★★