Now the world is quickly opening back up — including live theatres around Calgary — sensational beat writer Caroline Russell-King is out and about, and ready to offer her patented postcard reviews of current local theatre productions
First up: For those wanting to rediscover Christmas magic, Storybook Theatre’s holiday-themed The Sound of Music is on the company’s stage for the next couple of weeks (until Dec. 19).
Show: The Sound of Music in Concert.
Playwright: Book by Howard Lindsay and Russel Crouse, lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II, music by Richard Rogers, based on the material by Maria August Trapp.
Production Company/theatre space: StoryBook Theatre, Beddington Theatre Arts Centre.
Length: Two acts (two-and-a-half hours with intermission).
Premise: A young woman is sent from a convent to be a governess to seven children, where she teaches them to sing, falls in love with their father, a widower, and helps them all escape the Nazis who are taking over Austria.
Why this play? Why now?: This is a big-cast, well-known musical, which is the stock and trade of StoryBook Theatre. (Plus, in 2021 it also helps to be reminded the Nazis are the bad guys.)
Curiosities: I wondered about the convention of the concert but really it feels like a full production. I questioned why some actors don’t commit to period haircuts. I wondered if the play wasn’t a little antiquated. I mused that if director JP Thibodeau can create theatre with a mix of professionals and community players, what could he accomplish with a big budget in an “A house theatre”?
Notable Moment: The appearance of the swastikas always gives chills, and the seriousness of the political backdrop gives counterpoint to the lightness of the lyrics.
Notable writing: This classic script has won multiple Tony Awards and Oscars.
Notable performances: Playing the iconic role of Maria it’s easy to see that Katie McMillan is destined to have a long successful career in the business. She is supported by a fine ensemble.
Notable design/production: The clean set design is perfect and, as always, the lighting design is top notch.
Notable direction: JP Thibodeau with assistance from associate directors Chris Thomson and Wunmi Idowu, musical director Joel Schaefer, and choreographer Alexa Elser really do make the hills come alive with music! Bravo.
One reason to see this show: Great entertainment, quality shows, fine talent, great design, these are a few of my favourite things.
Caroline Russell-King is a member of the Canadian Theatre Critics Association. www.carolinerussellking.com