Review: ‘The Sound of Music’ at the Eccles makes a classic fresher

Jill-Christine Wiley stars as Maria in the national tour of "The Sound of Music," Photo: Matthew Murphey

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah, March 1, 2018 (Gephardt Daily) — A fresh version of “The Sound of Music” makes its home at the Eccles Theatre through Sunday.

If you grew up with the 1965 film, you already know the story of Maria, a young and spirited postulate in Austria at the start of World War II. Her abbey sent her to serve as a governess for the seven children of a widowed World War I naval officer, Captain von Trapp.

In this newly revised stage version of the show, the basic story takes a new look at the source material and tweaks a few things. The major elements are all there.

Actress Jill-Christine Wiley, as Maria, is spontaneous and fun. Her voice is smooth and vibrant, and will make you hear lyrics anew.

The captain (Mike McLean) still starts out stern and rigid, but in this version, he warms up further and a lot faster. It makes him more likable, but his transformation seems a little too fast, and it also seems to reduce the romantic tension between von Trapp and Maria.

The talented actors playing his children also become more likable more quickly, making it believable that Maria (Jill-Christine Wiley) could care about these people.

Mother Abbess (Lauren Kidwell) has the showstopping number, “Climb Ev’ry Mountain,” and the actress’ deep, rich voice drives the message home and shakes audience members in their seats. This script also allows the character to reveal a little more about herself, making her scenes more satisfying.

The motives and morals of von Trapp’s baroness girlfriend and concert promoter associate are a little more transparent, and their scenes resonates with modern audience who are familiar with injustice and the people who choose to go along with it in order to protect their own interests.

Old-school sticklers may have issues with some of the changes, but this version of “The Sound of Music” makes an old story seem newer. And that’s no easy feat with a story quickly approaching retirement age.

For more information on the show, click here.


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