27 August 2013

The Sound of Music at Regent's Park Open Air Theatre

When I was growing up, I practically wanted to be the eighth Von Trapp child. I used to watch the video every single day (much to the chagrin of my parents) and can still recite most of the film verbatim. So when my housemate had tickets to see The Sound of Music, I jumped at the chance. What made it even better was that it was an evening performance on Bank Holiday Monday. And in an open air theatre.

I'd never been to the Open Air Theatre in Regent's Park but was very pleasantly surprised. A steep amphitheatre seating over 1,000 people, it's nestled into a gorgeously verdant part of the park and you'd almost never know it was there. It's host to all sorts of productions from Shakespeare to Hitchcock and is open to the weather (so do take a jumper just in case!). I was running late so picked up my ticket on the gate, whisked through the bar area and found my seat with the others - talking of seats, it seems there's no 'bad' seat as visibility from all angles is brilliant and the production makes the most of the space it's given.


Kicking off at 7.45pm (although there are matinee performances), The Sound of Music fully immerses you in the world of Maria and the Von Trapps. All the characters from the film make appearances and are uncannily like their original counterparts, proving the value of the director's observation. The instantly recognisable Rodgers & Hammerstein score is, of course, prevalent throughout with the actors voices surprisingly strong - and at the curtain call, it's revealed that a live orchestra has been accompanying the entire performance.

The production isn't just a 'live version of the film' - some artistic licence brings the classic right up-to-date with a knowing nod between cast and audience. The action is expertly captured and you could feel a genuine, palpable affection from the latter for such an expert adaptation. As the dark descended, the amphitheatre felt quite romantic, lit with fairy lights in places and the flicker of fireflies dancing above us, and it was quite emotional watching the production draw to a close. There's some real talent in this production and it was so good to see one of my childhood films brought to life so well.

I definitely recommend the Open Air Theatre, tucked into the heart of one of London's favourite parks. Pack a picnic and a bottle of wine and make a right evening of it, soaking up some great culture in the city. The Sound of Music ends on 14 September but you can also catch screenings of Hitchcock's The Birds and Into The Words, dark retellings of the Grimm fairytales.
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