Review: The Sound of Music, Ilkley Amateur Operatic Society, King’s Hall, Ilkley

EVEN Rodgers and Hammerstein’s most schmaltzy “feel good” musical has its sinister undertones. The true story is of Captain Georg (pronounced Gayorg) Von Trapp and his all-singing family’s escape from Nazi-occupied Austria in 1938. The swastika flags unfurled from the King’s Hall boxes for the thrilling final scene are a potent symbol.

Until this point, all has been sweetness and light. A large troupe of nuns, feisty governess Maria Rainer and the Captain’s seven children have endlessly warbled on about raindrops on posies, warm woollen kittens, bright copper petals - and lots of their other favourite things.

Seriously though, Ilkley Amateur Operatic Society under Mark Allan’s direction have assembled a vibrant cast. Susan Wilcock is the exuberant postulent nun-turned governess-turned Baroness von Trapp. Susan sings sweetly and she radiates goodness and sincerity. The children - Sophie Armitage (Leisl), Jacob Willox (Friedrich), Niamh Murphy (Louisa), Barnaby Killan (Kurt), Isabella Lambert (Brigitta), Jemina McDonald (Marta) and tiny Abigail Henderson (Gretl) - are ideally cast. Their songs such as Do-Re-Mi, So Long Farewell, and The Lonely Goatherd are projected with innocence and freshness. Leisl and Rolf the postman (Daniel Burgess) charmingly sing their duet, Sixteen Going on Seventeen.

The nuns are led by Jackie Campbell’s firm but fair Mother Abbess. Jackie’s powerful performance of Climb Ev’ry Mountain knocks out the stalls and balcony. Sally Holmes as Sister Berthe, Helen Smith as Margaretta, Steph Burgess as Sophia, and the Mother Abbess all ask in song “What do you do about a problem called Maria?” Well Exactly. But she does bring out the loving human side of Paul Chewin’s regimented Captain Von Trapp. Claire Scott-Pearce is the glamourous Elsa Schraeder who intends marrying him. Ted Killan plays Max Detweiler whose instinct for self-preservation is equalled only by his uncanny knack of arriving at the baronial pile just as dinner is about to be served. The household is strictly run by Franz the Butler (Gary Holmes) and housekeeper Frau Schmidt (Rebecca Clark). Jonny Tate plays Herr Zeller, the menacing Gauleiter or Nazi Party regional leader.

This subtly lit staging extends into the auditorium and looks wonderful against a rose tinted backdrop of flower meadows and snow capped peaks.

A full orchestra is conducted by IAOS musical director Mike Gilroy who injects pizzazz into the engaging musical score.

Not surprisingly, the Sound of Music has been packing ‘em in. The show runs until Saturday.

Geoffrey Mogridge