Lovely to look at and lovely to listen to, the North Carolina Theatre's magnificent revival of The Sound of Music is a real crowd-pleaser. The Saturday-night performance earned a lengthy and loud standing ovation, thanks to splendid staging by Seattle-based director/choreographer Stephen Terrell; an awesome set and magnificent costumes rented from the American Musical Theatre of San Jose, California; and bravura performances by Danette Holden as perky postulant Maria Rainer, Ira David Wood III as stuffy retired Austrian naval Capt. Georg von Trapp, and Patty Goble as the Mother Abbess. Indeed, it was hard to tell whether Holden or Wood or Goble received the loudest ovation.
Composer Richard Rodgers and lyricist Oscar Hammerstein II's final collaboration, with its charming book by Howard Lindsay and Russel Crouse, contains some of Rodgers and Hammerstein's snazziest show tunes — including "The Sound of Music," "My Favorite Things," "Do-Re-Mi," "Climb Ev'ry Mountain," and "Edelweiss" — all performed with brio by NCT resident musical director/conductor McCrae Hardy and an orchestra of highly talented instrumentalists who make this superlative musical score sparkle.
The soaring set, originally designed by J.B. Wilson for the American Musical Theatre of San Jose, is truly spectacular; and so are the late 1930s period costumes originally created for the San Jose company by Cathleen Edwards and supplemented by NCT resident costume designer Denise Schumaker. NCT technical designer Christopher "CJ" Johnson and master carpenter Curtis Jones' contributions to this visually striking show also deserve kudos, as does the exceptional work by lighting designer Craig Stelzenmuller and sound designer Jonathan Parke.
Guest director/choreographer Stephen Terrell's savvy staging and crisp choreography have this old war horse of a Broadway musical prancing like a newborn colt. Danette Holden gives the audience a Maria to remember; and David Wood, still battling a lingering and as yet undiagnosed illness that saps his energy, gives a heroic performance as the lonely widower Capt. von Trapp. A shrill-piping martinet with his children, Georg softens — and unexpectedly falls in love — when exposed to the irresistible high spirits of Maria, the children's free-spirited governess who falls in love with her employer despite her intentions to enter the local convent.
Patty Goble is superb as the sympathetic Mother Abbess. Indeed, she sings like an angel.
Martin Van Treuren is terrific as Austrian arts impresario Max Detweiler, and Sharon Bower is quite good as Elsa Schraeder, the wealthy fiancée that Capt. Von Trapp discards to marry the penniless Maria.
Heather Shaw is charming as von Trapp's oldest daughter, Liesl; and the von Trapp great-grandchildren — Sophia, Justin, Melanie, and Amanda von Trapp — all perform exceptionally well for novice actors and sing superbly. But five-year-old Lily James steals the show as tiny but fearlessly outspoken Gretl von Trapp.
Bob Wrenn and Christine Hunter contribute crisp cameos as the von Trapp family servants, and David Dossey is positively menacing as a Nazi sympathizer who is always plotting to expose the von Trapps' anti-Nazi sentiments.
The North Carolina Theatre's frisky revival of The Sound of Music is a treat for the whole family. Don't miss this must-see musical.
The North Carolina Theatre presents The Sound of Music Thursday-Friday, July 17-18, at 8 p.m.; Saturday, July 19, at 2 and 8 p.m.; and Sunday, July 20, at 2 and 7 p.m. in Raleigh Memorial Auditorium in the BTI Center for the Performing Arts, 1 East South St., Raleigh, North Carolina. (NOTE: Audio description will be available at the July 19 matinee.) $18-$60. 919/834-4000 (Ticketmaster) or 919/831-6950 (NCT box office) or http://www.ticketmaster.com/venue/115203. NCT: http://www.nctheatre.com/; Broadway Musical: http://www.rnh.com/theatre/index.html [inactive 8/03] ; Motion Picture: http://www.foxhome.com/soundofmusic/index_frames.html [inactive 5/04]; and von Trapp Family: http://www.trappfamily.com/index2.tmpl?content=news.html.