Regents Park open-air theatre, London, is the perfect place to go this summer to soak up some sun, Pimms and culture. Or, in the case of its most recent production, ‘The Sound of Music’, directed by Rachel Karvanaugh, offers almost three hours of heart warming, can’t-stop-smiling family fun. Regardless of whether you know the songs inside out, or are completely ignorant of every Von Trap family member, this production brings the much beloved story to life.
The entire cast were superb, with slick choreography and powerful voices doing the iconic score justice. The seven children were all suitably adorable, and Michael Xavier was every inch the stern yet lovable Captain Von Trapp.
22 year old Charlotte Wakefield shines as Maria, seemingly doing the impossible in banishing the ghost of Julie Andrews and making the part her own. Her warm stage presence is instantly enchanting, and her rich singing voice is successful in evoking both smiles and tears as it rings through the evening air. She effortlessly conveys both Maria’s naivety and gumption, and the songs ‘I Have Confidence’ and ‘The Hills are Alive’ stood out with their strength and emotion.
Her place as star of the show was rivaled however by Helen Hobson, who played Mother Abbess, captivating the audience with her knock out number ‘Climb Every Mountain’. Her powerful and emotive singing voice combined with her surprisingly playful side, charming an audience who awarded her with the loudest round of applause of the night.
The double act of Caroline Keiff (Frau Schraeder) and Michael Matus (Max) brought wonderfully ironic comedy, yet also played a key role in exposing the darker side of this production. In a new song they sing about keeping their head down and doing nothing as the Nazis invade. This song was one of two new additions to the score, and although I had my reservations, they gave these two characters an extra voice which was refreshing.
This superbly staged production, set in one of the most atmospheric theatres in London is a true indulgence. Glowing with warmth, it is a delight from start to finish. If you manage to bag yourself a ticket it will certainly be one of your ‘favourite things’ this summer!