IT SAYS a lot for the popularity of both Witham Amateur Operatic Society and Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Sound of Music that on the ﬁrst Monday of the how there was not one spare seat. The audience was not disappointed and to judge from the applause at the end it could have been a West End ﬁrst night.
The story of the triumph of good over evil, love over repression and principle over opportunism set against the background of the German annexation of Austria is ﬁlled with memorable melodies and instantly forgettable dialogue.
The casting of leading lady Maria is crucial and in newcomer Margaret Peddell the operatic society has a winner. She can sing well but more importantly she portrays an innocent enjoyment of life, is poised yet insecure, has the ability to smile with all of herself and bubbles over with enthusiasm when with the children.
The production moves along at a good and varied pace and producer Betty Blower ensures that those potentially show killing scene changes are full of interest and variety. Her handling of the children is a highlight of the show. They each have their own personality and make the most of their chances but when others are singing they keep totally still, a practice many adult choruses would do well to follow.
Elizabeth Miller plays the firm yet sympathetic Mother Superior. With Alison Brewer, Edna Starling and Roberta Tyler as the leading nuns she leads an excellent chorus. It was a pity that the dramatic opening chorus was spoilt by the noise of latecomers being shown to their seats.
Nicholas Clough is an imposing and stern Captain Von Trapp who realises in time that the sophisticated, flamboyant woman of the World, Elsa Schraeder played by Patsy Doy, is not for him. Geoff Coverdale, the unprincipled Max Detweiller, made the most of his humorous lines. Graham Peddell and Lydia Clough played the butler and housekeeper, while Brian Clark was the nasty Nazi Herr Zeller. Gary Smith and Sharon Ayriss as the young teenage romantics Rolf and Liesl, had their high point in I am sixteen.
The choreography, by Cynthia Stead, was kept within the bounds of what could be done competently. The orchestra under director of Music, John James, responded sensitively to the young performers. The inclusion of a synthesizer added greatly to the sounds that could be produced.
A thoroughly enjoyable evening.
Margaret Peddell, Alison Brewer, Edna Starling, Elisabeth Miller, Roberta Tyler, Nicholas Clough, Graham Peddell, Lydia Clough, Sharon Ayriss, David Castell, Elizabeth Ladd, Justin Shreeve, Rebecca Broyd, Emily Paston, Emily
Chaplin, Gary Smith, Patsy Doy, Geoff Coverdale, Brian Clark, Edward Maltby, Mandy Smith, Peter Green.
Also Kathryn Adkins, Pat Briggs, Sandra Broyd, Helen Collins, Deborah Golby, Janice Hawkes, Ron Howe, Helene Jones, Keith Larkin, Ann Marsden, Cynthia Meek, Susan Miller, Yvonne Mitchell, Rita Page, Mary Schoeser, Anne Sheppard, Kate Stevenson, Carole Turner, Elizabeth Watson.
Musical director John James;
Stage manager Audrey King;
Assistant stage manager Derek Hunt;
Lighting Robin Dedman;
Stage crew Les King, John Reed, Brian Hovall, David Hunt, Inn Harris, Roger
Clark, Jim Fensom, Mick Adams, Terry Want;
Sound effects Andrew Chalkley;
Props Anne Hunt, Dot Reed, Sally Bell, Janet Davies, Natalie Hawkes, Sally Paston, Jane Kennedy;
Tabs Phillip Harris;
Prompt Helen Collins;
Wardrobe Nesta Hinchcliffe;
Makeup June Smith and Margaret Iex;
Front of house John Gunson;
Programmes June Locke.