Written by Howard Lindsey with music and lyrics by Richard Rogers and Oscar Hammerstein, the Lower Ossington Theatre presents The Sound of Music, another new installment to their 2014 Spring Season. Bordering Switzerland and entangled amongst the Austrian Alps, this classic musical narrates the life of Sister Maria Rainer and her obligations to the von Trapp family. Having bore witness to the LOT’s previous exemplary theatrical outings, expectations were heightened and sadly destroyed.
Regarding the talent and performance aspect, the Lower Ossington Theatre continues to succeed. The harmony was beautiful and the dancing was minimal, leaving the performance to exude eloquence. The lead characters, Maria (Michelle Nash) and Captain von Trapp (Barrett Morrison), stood at the forefront of the production with their sidekick Gretel (Hannah Levinson) actively by their side. Nash’s posture, intellect, and understanding of Maria’s character directly played off of the Captain’s weak interior, cultivating an honest and sincere connection on stage.
The von Trapp children quickly emerge as energetic powerhouses whose enthusiasm noticeably drops in the second act. Nonetheless, the family scenes and musical numbers greatly enhance the production and assist to disguise the show’s visual drawback. The cheerful and perky ensemble of nuns remain solid throughout – a true joy to listen and watch. Greg Carruthers’ portrayal of Uncle Max is beyond frivolous and cancels out a majority of possible comedic opportunities to collaboratively engage with the actors and the audience alike.
Just as “there’s something funny about Maria,” there is something funny and blatantly noticeable as the curtains open. Symmetry is lacking with significant elements missing, thus distinguishing the period as a confusing abstract between neoclassicism and the Home Depot. In addition to the lack of historical accuracy, the wings are not properly masked. This creates a destructive force in which the presumed magic of theatre cannot exist. Scenic design for such a demanding production is meant to challenge the designer’s creativity, calling him/her to venture amidst new horizons and technical opportunities. Although the staircases were ornately constructed, the unitary function did not allow for representation of the various locales necessary to bring the narrative to life.
Disappointment lies not only in regards to the scenic department, but unfortunately ripples against the costume and lighting design as well. Where the von Trapp children are gallantly decorated, the ensemble of nuns is clothed in broadcloth garb as opposed to silks and satins, perhaps as a method of provoking thought towards the difference between the social classes during that time period. In addition, the light plot often bleeds into the audience and overpowers significant moments required for audiences to understand the relationships and key plot advancements.
Understanding the grandiosity and dedication required of such a production, the Lower Ossington Theatre delivers unprepared. Although the design unexpectedly fails for the entirety of the production, the performance quality generally speaks for itself. This production remains decent for families and young audiences in highlighting the centrality of family within the darkness of war and the unknown.
The Sound of Music is presented by the Lower Ossington Theatre until May 3. Presented at the Randolph Theatre with tickets ranging in price from $39.99-$69.99. You can contact the box office at 416-915-6747, or visit www.ticketwise.ca for tickets and details.
photo credit: Seanna Kennedy