Cromer and Sheringham Operatic and Dramatic Society

The Sound of Music

Eastern Daily Press - Sunday 26 May 2013

How do you solve a problem like meeting people's expectations with a stage version of a musical film which is among millions of people's favourite things?

You pick a strong cast, back it with an experienced and skilled behind-stage team - and the coast comes alive with the Sound of Music.

Saturday's opening performance ended with a deserved standing ovation for CSODS, now in its 99th year.

It is, let's be honest, a Marmite of a musical. Based on a true Austrian story, it tells of Maria, a would-be nun sent as governess in the late 1930s to the seven motherless children of a naval captain.

She brings music into their lives, unintentionally loses her heart to him and wins his, and they all escape the Nazis by fleeing across the mountains.

Half of us love Rodgers' and Hammerstein's soundtrack - with every song a winner. The rest of the world, poor misguided things, hates the whole saccharine concoction.

Maria and the children are key and Helen Haines ignored the terrors of trying to emulate Julie Andrews' iconic film interpretation, bringing her own natural and relaxed style to Maria's character.

She was completely believable as a charismatic and mellifluous breath of fresh air in the strict von Trapp household.

Two groups of children, the Schnitzels and Strudels, are alternating performances and it was the Schnitzels' turn on Saturday.

Each was completely in character, whether mischievous, insightful or, as with Gretl, the youngest, very cute.

Their energetic version of the classic Do Re Mi was superb, with each popping up from behind a sofa like figures on a fairground organ.

All the cast's soloists were strong singers with a rich range of voices and tones.

The excellent quality of the many sets and their deft staging deserves a mention in despatches.

So forget the half-term weather, head for the end of the pier and immerse yourselves in CSODS' wonderful world of talented children dressed alike in curtain material, singing nuns, a little yodelling - and then you won't feel so bad.
Alex Hurrell