A great cast in The Sound of Music at Milton Keynes Theatre

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“I don’t deny the existence of the tragic and the frenetic. But I say that somebody has to keep saying that isn’t all there is to life.”

This was Oscar Hammerstein’s approach to his craft and that’s why, when he wrote The Sound of Music with Richard Rodgers they managed to turn a story about escaping from the Nazis into such a joyful experience.

The Sound of Music is on at Milton Keynes Theatre until Saturday, June 6, starring Danielle Hope, who fans of the BBC Over The Rainbow show will remember as the winning singer who won the role of Dorothy in The Wizard of OZ.

And a joyful experience it is, with the cast bringing audience members to their feet in appreciation.

It’s easy to think that you just cannot go wrong with The Sound of Music, that it’s such a good and well-loved show that you you simply have to sing the songs and everything falls into place.

But I’d say that any show that involves well-loved characters and such familiar songs and a central cast made up largely of children has got quite a task on its hands to live up to expectations.

Danielle Hope is a convincing Maria, with Julie Andrews-style clipped speech, and an ability to portray the development of the character from uncertain young would-be nun to mature wife and stepmother. Her expressive voice swept you along through the story, the fun of My Favourite Things and Lonely Goatherd and the touching Something Good sung with Steven Houghton as Captain von Trapp.

The youngsters playing the von Trapp children were well cast, talented and expertly rehearsed, creating a choir that blended together perfectly, producing beautiful harmonies and sweet characterisations.

Grace Chapman, playing the eldest daughter Liesl was particularly lovely in her Sixteen Going On Seventeen sequence with Luke George as Rolf. A nicely choreographed section.

The role of Mother Abbess was taken by Jan Hartley who absolutely stormed her rendition of Climb Every Mountain, closing the first half on an emotional high.

To fans of the film there were some differences in the stage show. There were a couple of extra songs involving Elsa and Max, but I was disappointed not to hear one of my favourites from the show, I Have Confidence.

It was a great performance from all involved and was a truly feelgood show.