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Everybody's favourite musical is back on tour
The capacity audience roared its approval and gave the cast of The Sound of Music a standing ovation at the end of a magnificent evening of musical theatre.
Never mind the hills being alive with the sound of music, it was the streets outside the Hippodrome that rang to tunes like Do-Re-Mi and So Long, Farewell as the punters hummed and sang while exiting the building.
Even during the orchestral overture to the second half a mass audience singalong broke out, with theatregoers adding the words to the musicians' rendition of The Lonely Goatherd.
Maria: Lucy O'Byrne takes the lead in The Sound of Music (pic: Mark Yeoman)
All the best singing, however, was on stage. Newcomer Lucy O'Byrne, a runner-up on The Voice, was pitch-perfect as Maria, the aspiring nun sent to be governess to a family of seven children. Their war hero father, Captain Georg von Trapp, frowns on children playing and singing and demands they 'march' and respond to the whistle he blows when he wants their attention. Former soap villain Andrew Lancel (Frank Foster from Coronation Street) is a straight-laced Captain but is blessed with a pleasing singing voice, best heard on his duet with Maria, Something Good, and an emotional Edelweiss near the end.
Emotional: Andrew Lancel is Captain von Trapp
The children are played by really hard working young actors and actresses. They are on stage a lot and on opening night didn't put a foot wrong. So take a bow Kai Cooper, Grace Fox, Edward Hooper, Ivy Pratt, Sylvie Erskine and Talia Etherington. (There are an additional 12 children appearing during the show's tour).
Music lesson: Maria and the von Trapp children (pic: Mark Yeoman)
Annie Holland takes the role of oldest daughter Liesl for her first UK theatre tour. She also showed her dancing skills during a Sixteen Going on Seventeen routine with suitor Rolf.
So, two talented leads and a group of wide-eyed children – but the show is stolen by… a nun.
Jan Hartley as Mother Abbess is a revelation. The theatre walls seemed to shake as she sang Climb Ev'ry Mountain, her wonderful voice soaring to hit notes so high they could have been on a mountain top. She also revealed a sense of humour as she duetted with Maria on My Favourite Things. Unsurprisingly, Jan received one of the biggest, if not the biggest, ovations of the night.
Habit forming: The nuns of The Sound of Music (pic: Pamela Raith)
Every song was perfectly enunciated and sung – and the sound engineers didn't let down the performers or the audience. It was Symphony Hall standard!
And let's not forget the musicians, an 11-strong ensemble who were out of sight in the orchestra pit but who would certainly have been missed if they weren't there.
The Sound of Music 2016 UK tour:
Till May 28: Birmingham Hippodrome; May 31 - June 11: Severn Theatre, Shrewsbury; June 14 - 18: Venue Cymru, Llandudno;
June 21 - 25: Sunderland Empire;
July 5 - 9: Blackpool Opera House;
July 11 - 16: Everyman Theatre, Cheltenham;
July 25 - 30: Marlowe Theatre, Canterbury;
August 2 - 6: Princess Theatre, Torquay;
August 9 - 13: Hall For Cornwall, Truro;
August 16 - 20: Bournemouth Pavilion Theatre;
August 23 - 27: Swansea Grand Theatre;
September 6 - 10: New Theatre, Oxford;
September 13 - 17: Plymouth Theatre Royal;
September 20 - 24: Nottingham Theatre Royal;
September 27 - October 1: Orchard Theatre, Dartford;
October 4 - 8: Wolverhampton Grand;
October 11 - 15 October: De Montfort Hall, Leicester;
October 18 - 22: Theatre Royal, Norwich.