#PicksAndPiquesTheatreReview2018 #TheatreCriticJohnsonThomas #TheSoundOfMusic #AceProductions


#PicksAndPiquesTheatreReview2018 #TheatreCriticJohnsonThomas #TheSoundOfMusic #AceProductions #CreateFoundation #RodgersAndHammerstein #RaelPadamsee #AdvaitHazarat #KarlaSingh Cast: #ArunodaySingh, #MeherMistry, #KunalVijayakar, #MarianneDcruzAiman #HoshangKatrak Director: #AdvaitHazarat Associate Director: #KarlaSingh Rating: * * * ½ Venue: Tata Theatre, NCPA, Nariman Point Runtime: 120 + mins This much loved timeless, old-school musical made famous by the classic film and live performances in prestigious theatres across the globe, comes to the Mumbai stage in an ambitious amalgam of heavenly singing, nimble dancing and astonishing visual artistry. The musical compresses the tale of romance between the postulant Maria Ranier and the navy Captain Georg von Trapp, after which they escape from Nazi entrapment, with his seven children. It’s of course based on the real life ordeal of Von Trapp Family Singers. This latest stage adaptation has stacked the deck with impressive performers, sets and costumes that evoke the period and drama that is still remembered with an aching sense of nostalgia. This may not be a cinema but it plays like one with the background props looking incredibly real and the use of space and visuals, so beautifully done that it almost feels like you are in the Austria of the period leading up to the Second World War. The set design is definitely the highlight of this production with the backdrops capturing most of the elements of the film with a sweeping magnificence that takes full advantage of the entire auditorium. The Captain’s grand estate, the abbey, and the Chapel where the wedding scene takes place, backlit by the stained glass windows look stunning to say the least. Even the Nazi swastikas that provide a backdrop to the Festival concert where the von Trapps perform before they flee Austria look eerily real here. When you think of The Sound of Music, of course it’s Julie Andrews who comes to mind- not the many immensely gifted performers who have graced the stage across the globe. That’s but natural, for cinema is a far more accessible medium than stage/theatre. And it certainly wouldn’t be justified to compare a live stage performance with that of a film. Having said that, I must say that the lead actress here is a phenomenal singer. She has a wonderful range and her voice is sharp and pitched strikingly enough to compare with the best we’ve seen on stage in India. Meher Mistry who plays Maria, the wilful, free spirited novice who breaks the rules of the Abbey with her loud singing - of Advait Hazarat’s ‘The Sound of Music,’ falls into place largely because of her singing talents. Arunoday Singh’s Captain Von Trapp has the imposing presence required but his singing voice, while strong enough, doesn’t feel as confident. The 7 Von Trapp offspring are adequate and the school children who participate in the background also add some gaiety but it’s essentially Marianne D’Cruz Aiman as the Mother Superior who hits the highest notes and brandishes her extraordinary range and voice for all to be floored. The Sound Of Music, Climb Ev’ry mountain, Edelweiss, Maria and My Favorite Things are the songs that keep ringing in your mind much after the show is done. After the romance finds fruition, Hazarat dutifully encapsulates the Von Trapp escape, during a family performance at a prestigious festival of music, which happens during the early stages of World War II, when Nazism was spreading throughout Europe. Unfortunately despite the dialogue fillers which inform you about the tense situation prevalent there, there’s no tension or fear in the performance. While the plot of the musical is similar to that of the film, the sequence of the songs varies and the background score has contemporary resonance. The romance doesn’t feel organic either. So basically this musical works largely on the basis of the lead singing and stunning digital backdrops that spread across the walls of the theatre in perfect symmetry, thus conveying to the audience a feel of being an integral part of the performance. Special mention must be made of the digital props used for the Chapel in the Abbey which is envisaged as a stained glass endowed stunner. This memoir to the enduring human spirit that finds hope even in the most trying of circumstances is undoubtedly a heart-warming experience! Johnsont307@gmail.com

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