Review: The Sound Of Music ****

Verity Rushworth as Maria and the Von Trapp children in The Sound of Music. Picture: Catherine Ashmore

Verity Rushworth as Maria and the Von Trapp children in The Sound of Music. Picture: Catherine Ashmore

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At Leeds Grand Theatre

IT’S been a long time since any star prompted spontaneous applause from an audience at The Grand, just by walking on stage – but that’s just what Jason Donovan enjoyed this week.

Unfortunately – oh dear – Jase’s voice doesn’t appear to be what it was. Dull, inconsistent and a little flat in places, this rendition of Captain von Trapp is disappointing vocally, even if he does have the acting ability to (just about) do the speaking parts.

Not that it matters too much, the busy Grand seemed to lap it all up regardless – this is The Sound of Music after all. Only Julie Andrews and Connie Booth can claim to be nearly as big as the musical itself.

Although Verity Rushworth does a pretty damn good job of taking the part of Maria as her own. She really is superb – with a great voice and a natural charisma which more than does this revered role justice.

And it wasn’t just the surprise of seeing someone previously known for a relatively minor part in soap opera Emmerdale tackle such a daunting character as this. By any measure Verity, who is a bona fide Loiner, is wonderful.

All the cast are superb, the sets suitably epic and the music remains at its sing-along best. Despite being ingrained in popular culture, it’s easy to forget just how many legendary tunes there are in this Rodgers and Hammerstein classic. Catching a production like this helps remind you.

Though you can’t help but think, judging by the audience response, the bums being placed on seats largely belong to Donovan fans.

If there are any more out there then they only have a few more days left before he’s replaced in Leeds by an understudy. Rushworth, meanwhile, will remain – though she alone makes this well worth seeing.

Until June 25, Leeds Grand Theatre, New Briggate, Leeds, Mon 7pm, Tues to Sat 7.30pm, Wed and Sat mats 2.30pm, £16 to £40.50, Tel. 0844 8482705 www.leedsgrandtheatre.com

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