BWW Review: THE SOUND OF MUSIC Delights at Tennessee Performing Arts Center
It's not often that adaptions of beloved classics can do justice to the original, but that is precisely what the latest installment of THE SOUND OF MUSIC, directed by Jack O'Brien, has accomplished. The current U.S. tour made a stop at TPAC's Andrew Jackson Hall on Tues., Feb. 14 for the opening night in Nashville - and it did not disappoint.
The Rodgers and Hammerstein classic tale of the Von Trapp family, their love of music and journey to freedom were all captured beautifully in the new production that honors the original while also keeping it fresh. All of the fan-favorite songs from the film are there, with Charlotte Maltby playing a captivating and lovely Maria that would make Julie Andrews proud, as she masterfully exhibits the sweet, yet passionate nature the character is known for. Her voice shines on every song, but especially the show's signature numbers including the title song, "Do-Re-Mi" and "My Favorite Things."
Other noteworthy performances came from the fabulous ladies who played the sisters of the abbey, adding an element of spunk and spirit to a profession most would not associate those terms with. But Melody Betts is a true standout as the strong, yet humble Mother Abbess, bringing to life her stern leadership that's coupled with her energetic spirit and love of Maria. Her praiseworthy representation included a stellar performance of "Climb Ev'ry Mountain," which showed off her stunning range, and "My Favorite Things" that allowed her to demonstrate her playful spirit, adding a bit of humor to the character. Maltby and Betts also exhibit a natural friendship and genuine chemistry that made both of their performances that much richer.
The Von Trapp children are to be equally celebrated, with each young actor bringing to light their full talent and making the unique qualities of their characters come to life, making for perfect casting. Paige Silvester played a very sweet and charming Liesel, hitting every note perfectly on the lovely "Sixteen Going On Seventeen," while Austin Colby sang just as beautifully in the role of Rolf Gruber. Ben Davis plays a prominent, yet kind-hearted patriarch of the household in Georg Von Trapp, reflecting his stern nature that at first masks his love for his children, but manages to break down those walls thanks to the gifts of Maria. Dakota Riley Quackenbush offers up a sassy Brigitta, and proves to be a promising young vocalist and actress, whether singing with her fellow siblings or boldly informing Maria that she and her father are clearly in love.
In addition to the famous compositions and noteworthy cast, the essence of humor was one of the many enjoyable elements of the production, and I had forgotten since seeing the film as a child just how funny it was. From the perplexed looks on the housekeepers' faces when they hear the Von Trapp children singing for the first time in a long while, to brother Max's love of living rich, in between the countless silly moments with the children, it's easy to forget the humor that is weaved in the story so celebrated for its vivid characters and timeless music.
Each actor pays homage the original score beautifully with their captivating voices and a gorgeous set to match, with the famous mountains of Austria displayed in a beautiful oil painting of warm colors and a scene of the Austrian skyline at night that is nothing short of awe-inspiring.
But what the latest rendition of THE SOUND OF MUSIC does so brilliantly is what live theatre aims to do - bring to life a classic story in a contemporary fashion while revealing facets you didn't see before. From the opening number down to the very last note, O'Brien's representation of this quintessential tale is sure to delight the masses.