Freelance journalist with a passion for theatre, the arts, food and books.
Birmingham is alive with the sound of music
It's been two years since The Voice runner-up Lucy O'Byrne was given the chance to take centre stage in this successful Bill Kenwright production. Now it's been revived and back in the Midlands for a new tour.
Sound Of Music returns. Photo from previous tour.
The Sound of Music is at Birmingham's New Alexandra Theatre from January 16 to 20 as part of this new UK tour.
Bringing to life all the sentiment and romance made famous by the Julie Andrews film, this is a slick production enhanced by lavish sets recreating the luxurious von Trapp family mansion and medieval arches and stained glass windows of the convent.
The musical about a young nun, who finds love and more after becoming the nanny to a widowed naval captain's seven children in pre-World War Two Austria, is renowned for being uplifting and romantic. Thankfully, this production satisfies fans of the film despite being the stage version that slightly differs from the movie.
Lucy O'Byrne shines bright. Photo from previous tour
O'Byrne returns as the hill-singing nun Maria but has a new leading man in the shape of former EastEnders actor Neil McDermott (who played Ryan Molloy). He's suitably dashing as Captain von Trapp and has a mellow tuneful voice for songs like Edelweiss.
But he's no stranger to the stage or TheSound of Music as he's played the teenage love interest and telegram delivery boy Rolf in this famed musical at the London Palladium years ago.
Playing Rolf this time around is Jordan Oliver who has a good chemistry with Katie Shearman's Liesl. Their well choreographed and charming dance number for Sixteen Going On Seventeen is the essence of young love and waltzes its way into the audience's hearts.
Romantic scenes between Rolf and Liesl. Photo from previous tour.
The casting crew has done a fabulous job of finding young talents to play the Von Trapp children, especially as many of them are very young and performing songs like So Long, Farewell and Do-Re-Mi so well.
Ultimately, it's O'Byrne who shines the brightest. The classically trained soprano has more than a touch of Julie Andrews about her in appearance and manner, but her voice is stunning too.
She's got more confidence this time around compared to the 2016 tour, but since then she has played the role of Fantine in Cameron Mackintosh's production of Les Miserables in London's West End. O'Byrne comes into her own during the Second Act, that gathers more pace and grandeur.
Also impressing is Megan Llewellyn as Mother Abbess who closes both the first and second acts with rousing renditions of Climb Ev'ry Mountain.
It really is a welcome return for this production of TheSound of Music and O'Byrne. It's a feel-good show full of romance and charm that will easily become one of your favourite things.