Any way you cut it, The Sound of Music is as sugary sweet as one of those cupcake joints, just not as trendy. The old-fashioned family musical to end all old-fashioned family musicals was the last collaboration between Rodgers & Hammerstein. It may not have been their best show, but it arguably was their most popular.
I caught San Diego Musical Theatre’s new production of The Sound of Music on Mother’s Day, and the matinee audience was filled with mothers, fathers and lots of kids. Many of the latter grew restless by the time the 90-minute first act was over, but if your children have the endurance and the attention span, they’ll likely enjoy the songfest that includes the childlike “Do-Re-Mi,” the fanciful “My Favorite Things” and “The Lonely Goatherd,” which has to be the silliest Rodgers & Hammerstein tune of all time (the yodeling doesn’t help) but is still a kid-pleaser.
The star of the SDMT production is really the 23-piece orchestra directed by Don Le Master, which faithfully recreates The Sound of Music’s most affecting songs, among them the title tune and “Climb Ev’ry Mountain,” the near-operatic anthem that closes Act 1 and the finale. Allison Spratt Pearce is both earnest and jaunty as Fraulein Maria, and her vocals are pure if not wowzer. The two wowzer voices are those of Randall Dodge in the comparatively thankless role of Captain von Trapp and Victoria Strong as the Mother Abbess who gets to belt out “Climb Ev’ry Mountain” to the rafters.
The kids are, well, the kids. They sound just fine throughout, though some grown-ups will feel cavities forming as some of the numbers featuring the young ones are delivered.
Just as the Oscar-winning film adaptation was long, so is this production, but then you know that going in – or you should have. Director/choreographer Todd Nielsen moves it all along best he can, and there are no dead spots.
The score’s little treasure, “Edelweiss,” feels underplayed, sandwiched between a reprise of “Do-Re-Mi” and the von Trapp family’s musical ruse to escape the Nazis. (In the film, it was also sung earlier in the story.) Even so, it’s still the prettiest song ever written about a flower that was not a rose.
David L. Coddon is theater critic for San Diego CityBeat