Darlington Operatics Society’s latest production, the time honoured classic of Rogers & Hammerstein’s Sound of Music, is a perennial favourite with old & young alike. True to form and living up to their past productions, DOS pull out all the stops to make this another fabulous night of virtuoso performances and stunning stage work.
The story is so well known it is almost biblical and, despite there being a distinct lack of Alpine altitude in Darlington, the stage is perfectly used to portray the mountains, abbey, chateau and music festival.
As a show based around 7 children, there was always going to be opportunities for the younger members of the Operatic Society to be involved but the age range required (5 to 16, going on 17) could have posed problems in ensuring that the youngest of the family Von Trapp weren’t overawed by the sheer magnitude of the show. Fear and concern was not on the agenda as each & every member hit their marks perfectly; perhaps more impressively the group as a whole ‘felt’ like a real family, they laughed together, helped one another and had a very noticeable affection for each other – obvious testament to the director and rehearsal teams who created two separate families to ensure they avoided overburdening developing minds.
Of course, the challenge with any production of Sound of Music is “How do you solve a problem like Maria?” – The BBC tried by running their semi-professional reality talent show, but I believe that Darlington Operatic Society have shown the rest how it’s really done. Beth Stobbard gives a performance which, with closed eyes sounds so much like Julie Andrews that you just have to look hard to make sure it’s really Beth’s voice – it is, I assure you. Beth follows the original film version of Maria very closely; she is flighty, headstrong, assured while vulnerable but never slips into the tempting realms of flirty or forward when finally falling in love with Captain Von Trapp (played by my favourite leading actor in the North, Julian Cound). Her singing is impeccable and, as she has shown in previous DOS productions, she can dance, act and is a very attractive leading lady which any male lead would love to star opposite.
As a family show, it is the songs which everybody knows and loves; the order and settings for some of the standards are different to the film version, leaving some of the audience debating which version they prefer, but they all fit perfectly well in either set of scenarios. The juxtaposition towards the end of the film, when Nazi Germany invades and begins the Anschluss, coupled with the innocent, traditional song festival, is handled very carefully given that many of the audience were youngsters drawn by Do Re Mi and oblivious to that passage in Austria’s history. They producers don’t shy away from creating the feeling of threat and make great use of the whole theatre, raising the tension to palpable levels and thus heightening the sense of relief at the end.
In short, another polished, professional and positively perfect performance by DOS which again makes me very proud to live in Darlington. There are still some tickets available but they are selling fast – contact the box office for details.