Classics are called classics for a reason, and the new touring production of “The Sound of Music” demonstrated once more how much charm this 57-year-old musical still possesses.
With their glorious voices, this stellar cast sang the enchanted Rodgers and Hammerstein score with verve.
Let’s face it, we all know the words. And all is forgiven if you suddenly start singing along, and don’t even realize it. Just sayin’ I heard some folks in my aisle, and maybe I softly uttered a phrase or two.
It’s impossible not to get caught up in those beloved melodies — “My Favorite Things,” “Maria,” “Do Re Mi,” “So Long, Farewell” and “Edelweiss.” To hear each familiar number, and experience the emotions that it evokes, is part of the show’s appeal. And this cast does it right — expressively with an abundance of feeling.
The Jack O’Brien-directed revival provides a fresh interpretation, with an intensity regarding the world events. In 1938, Austria was overtaken by Hitler’s Third Reich and naval commander Georg Von Trapp stood firm in opposition, but threats loomed. He feared for his family’s safety and tension mounts in this version. After all, these are real people who experienced the encroaching Nazi regime.
Like shows of that Broadway era, there is a very long first act and a number of reprises in the second act to make it feel a tad overstuffed, but the production moved swiftly.
The love story is at its core, and the audience was eager to cheer Maria and the Captain finally locking lips. Silky-smooth Ben Davis was strong in vocals and acting, making his stern, aloof single father a believable grieving widow. He warms up to the lively force of nature Maria in a genuine way, and Kerstin Anderson was a spunky dynamo with a sumptuous, sweet, crystal-clear voice.
Family and faith are also major components, enriching this timeless tale. The seven children are a personality-plus-talent bunch. Their voices blended beautifully in many harmonies, and their comic timing was sharp.
Velvety-voiced Maria Knasel of St. Louis sweetly captured impish Louisa, and Svea Elizabeth Johnson endeared as the young unfiltered Brigitta.
In supporting roles, Merwin Foard handled the friendly scoundrel Max Detweiler with aplomb, and Melody Betts showcased her rich voice as the Mother Abbess in “Climb Ev’ry Mountain.”
Even with simple staging, Davis’ “Edelweiss” was particularly poignant, and the wedding scene was quite grand.
Scenic designer Douglas W. Schmidt created an efficient home setting and did a remarkable job evoking the Abbey garden, stately cathedral and other backdrops through scrim projection.
Heartwarming and enjoyable throughout, “The Sound of Music” endures as one of the all-time great musicals. You’ll smile, you’ll laugh, you’ll cheer, and you’ll leave with a number of songs in your heart.
“The Sound of Music”
- When: through May 8
- Where: The Fox Theatre, 527 N. Grand Blvd., St. Louis
- Metrotix: 314-534-1111