Pity the poor reviewer having to write about a musical production at Chichester Festival Theatre.

No matter how much the reviewer has enjoyed the show he or she is expected to make one or two critical comments– but that’s tough. Chichester musicals are invariably top notch, and this year’s production, The Sound of Music, is no exception.

The cast - magnificently directed by Adam Penfold - the production, the singing, everything, is peerless and, of course, there’s the Rodgers and Hammerstein score full of old favourites.


The story, perhaps well known, is nonetheless a cracking tale of singing nuns, evil Nazis and an amazing family – and it’s all true (well almost).

It’s set in Salzburg just before the Germans invaded Austria in 1938 and it’s the story of the Von Trapp family of seven children and a rather austere widowed father (played to a perfect pitch by Edward Harrison) who falls in love with Maria (Gina Beck), a free-spirited nun who’s been sent to look after the children but falls in love with their father.

Von Trapp is an Austrian naval officer who refuses to bow to the will of the invading Nazis; this means he and Maria are faced with a terrible choice. But no spoilers, suffice to say it’s musical and happy endings are not unknown,

In such an amazing cast it is invidious to highlight individual performances, but it is impossible to ignore Gina Black’s towering performance as Maria, the singing nun and the centre of almost everything.

Janis Kelly as the Mother Abbess belts out a memorable version of ‘Climb Every Mountain’ that brings the first half to a spine-tingling close; and then of course there are the children who, after only a month of rehearsals, give amazing performances, acting singing and dancing like the true professionals most are likely to become.

This show ends in a few days but if you can’t make it in time there’s a chance that it might end up in the West End – and if not, there’s always next year’s Chichester musical which is almost certain to be just as good as this, if not better.

The Sound of Music is at Chichester Festival Theatre until September 3.