I have always loved the arts. Music, too; growing up in a house where music abounded is something I will always treasure. So, you can imagine how I relished my music periods at Grosvenor Girls’ High School. It was part of our curriculum (I wish more schools would do that!)
In grade nine, we studied a musical I had never heard of before: The Sound of Music. I found myself utterly enthralled by the love story of Maria, the hapless budding nun and the smouldering Captain von Trapp. When we watched the movie, I delighted in seeing the characters come to life.
Now, just try to understand how excited I was at the prospect of watching The Playhouse Company’s production of The Sound of Music. Just try. If you cannot, I will explain it to you: I babbled non-stop en route, and once we parked the car I began to shriek periodically, squeezing my husband’s hand every few seconds.
We picked up our tickets and waited in the foyer with hundreds of others, just as excited as we were. It warmed my heart to see the cross-section of people gathered: young children (even spotted a few dressed like the von Trapp brood – so cute!) a few my age, and then the older folk, who probably had the most appreciation for the Rogers and Hammerstein classic.
I could just about (seriously, just about) contain myself as the theatre doors were swung open. Let me just pause here for a moment to appreciate the Opera Theatre. What a beautiful, pure space of art; an absolutely vital piece of Durban’s artistic history.
The lights dimmed and an expectant hush fell over the crowd, as the heavy curtain slowly lifted. Instantly we were at the Nonnberg Abbey, listening to the beatific blend of harmony. From the first word spoken, my heart was captured. Of course, I was most looking forward to the musical’s iconic title song: “the hills are alive…with the sound of music…” and Lynelle Kenned did not disappoint. Her lilting, impossibly sweet soprano soared effortlessly and brought appreciative tears to my eyes. She was honest and vibrant in her portrayal of the governess who captures the heart of the steely von Trapp. Kenned’s interaction with the von Trapp brood is endearing, and the children themselves put on stellar performances. I particularly enjoyed the rendition of the famous Do Re Mi!
Well-known Craig Urbani brilliantly captured the precise, disciplined Georg von Trapp and was flawless in his delivery. He is reminiscent of Hollywood legend Christopher Plummer, as is Kenned of Julie Andrews in their soul-stirring performance of Something Good, the emotional scene where Captain von Trapp finally confesses his love for Maria.
It seemed as though the last few moments of the production came far too quickly, as Urbani – backed by the haunting strains of the KZN Philharmonic Orchestra under the baton of Lykele Temmingh – gave a wrenching performance of Edelweiss.
The cast, crew and orchestra received a well-deserved standing ovation and I heard an excited buzz of chatter as we left the theatre. To say the production was “good” would be a gross understatement. It was nothing less than spectacular, and it excites me: because the arts are well and truly alive in Durban.
Do yourself an enriching favour, and round up your family to watch The Sound Of Music; you won’t regret it!