Opera Hunter's The Sound of Music | Ken Longworth

LOVE STORY: John Radvan, as Captain Von Trapp, and Rachel Davies, as Maria, in Opera Hunter's The Sound of Music. Photo: Hannah Buck
LOVE STORY: John Radvan, as Captain Von Trapp, and Rachel Davies, as Maria, in Opera Hunter's The Sound of Music. Photo: Hannah Buck

WHEN the Rodgers and Hammerstein stage musical The Sound of Music was adapted into a film in the 1960s it became the most popular screen version of a musical. It still holds that honour.

Stage and film audiences invariably find the story, which is based on real people and events, to be moving and gripping. It is also seen as having the biggest collection of popular songs in a musical.

The cast members of a production by Opera Hunter, which has a two-week season at Lake Macquarie Performing Arts Centre from June 27, certainly see it as an engaging work.

John Radvan, who plays Captain Georg Von Trapp, a widower who has retired as an Austrian naval commander, said the songs, which include My Favourite Things, Climb Every Mountain, Edelweiss, Do-Re-Mi, Sixteen Going on Seventeen, and the title number, are so recognisable.  

“Captain Von Trapp is also initially a very sad man, as his wife has died, leaving him to look after their seven children,” he said.

The story is set in the second half of the 1930s, with Von Trapp subsequently attracted to a novice nun, Maria Rainer, who was sent by her mother superior to care for his children because his business interests often led to his absence from home. They subsequently wed, and find themselves and the children threatened when Nazi troops invade Austria.

The main characters in The Sound of Music are based on members of the real Von Trapp family, who established themselves as a popular singing group before the Nazi invasion. They fled from their homeland just before the official outbreak of World War II and became an internationally acclaimed vocal troupe.

The Opera Hunter cast also includes Rachel Davies as Maria Rainer, Malcolm Young as a manipulative theatre entrepreneur, Alison Lobb as a baroness intent on marrying Georg Von Trapp, Tashana Hardy and Grace Hughes alternating as the oldest Von Trapp girl,  Liesl, Ezekiel Weedon as Rolf Gruber, a young Nazi attracted to Liesl, and Hayley Doherty and Anthea Harringtom sharing the role of the nunnery’s Mother Abbess. Hayley Doherty also understudies Rachel Davies as Maria Von Trapp. The large cast is directed by Anna Lambert and P.J. Willis, with Mercia Buck as music director, Christopher Bearmann conducting the orchestra, and Lizzy Lindus as choreographer.

It has performances from June 27 to July 8 on Wednesday, Friday and Saturday, at 7.30pm, and Saturday and Sunday matinees at 1.30pm. Lake Macquarie Performing Arts Centre is in Lake Street, Warners Bay. Buy tickets ($40 and $35 concession) at stickytickets.com.au.

STOOGED ON TOUR

STOOGED Theatre, a Newcastle-based company which focuses on contemporary Australian and international plays, will take two of the works it staged last year, Neighbourhood Watch and Cock, to northern NSW venues at the request of local organisations. It will present one performance of Neighborhood Watch in a Newcastle theatre before heading off. Stooged also will perform another recent Australian play, Angela Betzien’s The Dark Room, in Newcastle between the two touring shows.

A scene from Stooged Theatre's production of Cock.

A scene from Stooged Theatre's production of Cock.

The Newcastle performance of Neighbourhood Watch will be at Newcastle Theatre Company’s venue in Lambton on June 23 at 8pm. Tickets, $10 (trybooking.com). The production will then have two performances at Port Macquarie’s Glasshouse Theatre on June 29. The play, by Melbourne writer Lally Katz, looks at the relationships between people of different ages and backgrounds, in an Australian city suburb. Most of last year’s cast, headed by CONDA-nominated Janet Gillam, are repeating their roles. Stooged was invited to take the play to Port Macquarie because it is on a NSW schools reading list.

Cock, by English writer Mike Bartlett, has a central character who is having a troubled time because he is uncertain about his sexuality. It will be presented at the Nimbin Bush Theatre, near Lismore, on September 7 and 8.

The Dark Room, which is being directed by renowned playwright Vanessa Bates, shows six people of different ages and sexes, trying to resolve problems in a small Northern Territory town. It will be staged at the Civic Playhouse from September 1 to 4.