Elicia MacKenzie (left) and the cute kids playing the von Trapps climb every musical cliché – and win.
THE SOUND OF MUSIC by Richard Rodgers, Oscar Hammerstein II, Howard Lindsay and Russel Crouse (Andrew Lloyd Webber/David Ian/David Mirvish). To January 11. $26-?$120. 416-?872-?1212. See Continuing. Rating: NNNN
Say what you will about The Sound Of Music - that it's old-fashioned, sentimental and as familiar as Do Re Mi on a scale - it still holds up as a piece of popular family entertainment.
That's especially true in this handsome but never ostentatious production from London's Palladium, which counts no less than Andrew Lloyd Webber as a producer. Director Jeremy Sams and set/costume designer Robert Jones have created an imaginative, efficient production that makes use of the scope and grandeur of the Princess of Wales Theatre better than any show since The Lion King.
Some plot and character arcs feel rushed - but that's a problem with the book. It's best not to know too much about the visual surprises, especially in the quick-moving second act. And Sams takes care with the smallest roles - the abbey nuns each have personality and Brigitte Robinson's housekeeper nearly steals all her scenes.
Of course, the show got a huge publicity boost during the summer with the CBC reality show about the search for the production's lead, How Do You Solve A Problem Like Maria? Winner Elicia MacKenzie, in her first professional gig, handles the difficult role like a pro.
After a few opening-night jitters - some pitch and enunciation problems - MacKenzie demonstrates the requisite feistiness and energy. She's completely comfortable in her scenes with the (adorable) von Trapp kids and makes a believable transition to woman by the show's end.
It's a shame there wasn't a similar competition to find SOM's leading man. Burke Moses, while suitably dashing in uniform, takes his surname a little too seriously - that Charlton Heston stiffness gets tired by the end.