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The Sound of Music — The National Theatre, Naarm/Melbourne (VIC)

Directed by Karen Shnider. Musical Direction by Kent Ross. Choreography by Suzie Pappas.

Reviewed by Edelweiss Angelita

The National Theatre, St Kilda

Until March 17th, 2024

Do yourself a favour and run, don’t walk to bask in the comforting balance of familiarity and freshness that Theatrical masterfully delivers

Despite being named after the last song Rodgers and Hammerstein penned together—for The Sound of Music, yes, but also their last song together, ever—I only remember watching the live action TV version in 2013 when Audra McDonald and Laura Benanti were in it—which made it an imperative for me to watch. With only that as a complete point of reference, along with the distant memory of the Julie Andrews and Christopher Plummer movie, I sort of knew what to expect generally from Theatrical’s production of The Sound of Music. I was ever so excited to catch all the smaller details that have long left my memory.

Having thoroughly enjoyed Theatrical’s production of Dogfight six months ago, I was expecting a similar caliber of intimate production with The Sound of Music. I was never more glad for making a wrong assumption. This production takes place in The National Theatre, which I have never been to before. Just from the outside, anyone as unfamiliar to the venue as yours truly would be able to tell that this is an iconic building with a long-standing history. Seeing the hustle and bustle upon entering the foyer, taking in the interior architecture and with a healthy amount of fixation on the grand marble staircase, I knew instantly that Theatrical is taking it to the next level with this production.

This time, I was glad that I was not wrong.

Theatrical's production of The Sound of Music. National Theatre, St Kilda. Images by Nicole Cleary

As soon as the show started, I was kept busy checking off my mental list so rapidly— let me try to walk you through it. First, the tight harmony during the acapella "Preludium" by The Nuns of Nonnberg Abbey informed me that any following group numbers in the show would be a delight. Next, as they revealed the scenic design of the hills for the very first time; as the sound of the very first intro traveled from the orchestra pit as Maria (Tayla Dwyer) sang her opening song with such crisp, crystal-clear voice, I knew that I was in for a treat.

Dwyer’s charm shone through, especially whenever she shares the stage with the Von Trapp children. Her first number together with the children during "Do-Re-Mi" radiated insurmountable jubilation. As the show went on, I only grew more and more fond of her performance, especially for her comedic choices and timing.

As the audience got to know the children better throughout the show, Adeline Baker, who played Gretl — the youngest Von Trapp — in the opening night show stole the scene every single time. Baker understood the assignment and was deeply committed to every bit as if her life depended on it, which I deeply appreciate (and genuinely believe could be an inspiration for a lot of adults, as I too have been inspired). The roles of the six Von Trapp children excluding Liesl are shared between 12 incredibly talented young performers throughout this two-week run (kudos to the casting director), and I believe that both groups are equally thrilling. The rest of the children whom I had the opportunity to see on opening night included Damon Willis as Friedrich, Stephanie Adamson as the mischievous Louisa, Matteo Maxwell as Kurt, Ruby McGrath as the feisty and candid Brigitta, Xoli McGinnes as the quiet and lovely Marta.

Dwyer’s charm shone through...As the show went on, I only grew more and more fond of her performance.

Another standout moment in the show was Liesl (Charlotte Holland) and Rolf's (Kael D’Alterio) duet on "Sixteen Going on Seventeen". The loveliness of a blooming teenage romance in their performance was adorable and thoroughly enjoyable, thanks to Holland and D’Alterio’s solid vocals and chemistry that lovingly transpired in their singing and dancing (thanks to Suzie Pappas’ choreography), enhanced by Bianca Pardo’s set design, Max Woods’ lighting design, scenic artistry by Adele Bauer, Jamieson Howe, Bailey Tynan, and Karen Spencer’s costume design.

Alongside the lighting design, Michael Honey’s sound design during the scene leading up to the performance of "The Lonely Goatherd" was extraordinary it garnered a head-turning, “Whoa, look at that!!!” from my 11-years old niece (apologies to the patient fellas sitting in front of her). The integration of puppetry into the performance was not a detail I remembered from the productions I have seen before, which made it such a refreshing delight. There is no greater joy than seeing a performance when you can sort of tell that everyone on stage was genuinely having the best time.

Another performance that deserves its own spotlight was "So Long, Farewell". I had never been more elated when I saw the cuckoo clock formation— I can honestly say that it was the cutest moment in the whole show. For these two standout moments, director Karen Shinder’s vision and its realisation by choreographer Pappas deserve a glowing praise.

It would not be possible to mention every single moment in the show where this production brought me unadulterated joy

Kate Thurkle’s performance as Elsa Schraeder also deserves a mention when reflecting on the overall performances of the production. Thurkle brought a sophistication to the Baroness in every aspect of her performance, and her vocals during her duet of "How Can Love Survive?" with the effervescent Max (Brett O’Mera) left the audience wanting to hear more of her singing. I was overjoyed when she got another big moment in the Second Act during "No Way to Stop It". I’m sure to be thinking of her captivating vocals (and on-point costume in every scene — that sparkly red dress!) for a long time. This further proves Theatrical’s expertise in discovering talents, and the company’s devotion in creating a space where these talents can shine, for without context you just can’t help but wonder how you never heard of these amazing talents prior to the production. It gives me immense joy to discover new talents to root for.

I could go on and on, but I just had to make sure that I mentioned how fitting the casting of the entire production was. To name a few: John Parncutt was an impeccable embodiment of the Captain, Frau Schmidt (Shivanii Cameron) was perfect in every way, Amanda Stevenson as Mother Abbess was truly loveable and captivating, especially with her operatic vocal prowess. Manon Franiatte as Sister Margaretta never failed to enchant the audience whenever she was on stage.

It would not be possible to mention every single moment in the show where this production brought me unadulterated joy — you’ll have to see it for yourself. Theatrical’s The Sound of Music is playing at The National Theatre until March 17. Do yourself a favour and run, don’t walk to bask in the comforting balance of familiarity and freshness that Theatrical masterfully delivers through this newest production of theirs.



Maria: Tayla Dwyer (she/her)

Captain Von Trapp: John Parncutt (he/him)

Mother Abbess: Amanda Stevenson (she/her)

Max Detweiler: Brett O’Mera (he/him)

Baroness Schraeder: Kate Thurkle (she/her)

Liesl: Charlotte Holland (she/her)

Friedrich: Damon Willis & Luca Moutsos

Louisa: Stephanie Adamson & Niki Georgas

Kurt: Matteo Maxwell & Ethan Lockhart

Brigitta: Ruby McGrath & Jessica Brown

Marta: Xoli McGinnes & Ayda Melody Hendricks

Gretl: Adeline Baker & Penelope Amato-Gifford

Rolf: Kael D’Alterio (they/them)

Frau Schmidt: Shivanii Cameron (she/her)

Sister Berthe: Keren Evans (she/her)

Margaretta: Manon Franiatte (she/her)

Sister Sophia: Christine Wood (she/her)

Herr Zeller: Mark Curran (he/him)


Felix Banvillet (he/him)

Catherine Bates (she/her)

Thaii Berry (she/her)

Amelia Davies (she/they)

Aimee Forrest (she/her)

Jeremy Grigg (he/him)

M Ho (any/all)

Chelsea Homan (she/her)

Phoebe Jansz (she/her)

Joel Keat (he/him)

Murron Kennedy-Cupples (she/her)

Madeleine Lacy (she/her)

Princeton Leonard (he/him)

Yvette Lipovetsky (she/her)

Jessi Neilsen CarreñoFergus Rann (he/him)

Alyssa Sorgiovanni (she/her)

Sarah Stapleton (she/he/they)

Production team

Executive Producer: Andrew Gyopar

Director: Karen Shnider

Musical Director: Kent Ross

Choreographer: Suzie Pappas

Costume design: Karen Spencer

Set design: Bianca Pardo

Props: Helen Vinter & Jane Lacey

Assistant Musical Director: Alex Byrne

Assistant to the Director: Burnie Dariol

Production Coordinator: Millie Shanks

Production Assistant: Maria Nascimento


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