By Manju Sampat
Raell Padamsee’s Ace Productions have another winner on their hands! Along with with The CREATE Foundation (Children’s Research in Education Arts & Theatre Endowment), which was founded in loving memory of Pearl Padamsee, they have brough to the Mumbai stage, the best loved musical in the world “The Sound of Music”.
This musical was the final collaboration between Rodgers & Hammerstein and it has become the world’s most loved musical. Ace Production’s show is a wonderfully slick production in every department and is certainly upto any international standard. It has been conceptualised by Raell Padamsee and directed by Advait Hazarat, who has done a most commendable job of directing it. The music by Merlyn D’Souza is top class, and the vocals have been directed by Marianne D’Cruz. Karla Singh and Prince have done the innovative and fresh choreography.This play opened at NCPA’s Tata Theatre over the weekend and is running to full houses, and seems all set for a long run. Audiences plainly love the familiar, and this was very evident at this show as they clapped and cheered for much loved songs from this play like “Doe a deer, a female deer”, “The Hills are alive with the Sound of Music”, and “Raindrops on Roses and Whiskers on Kittens”, plus a host of other great songs from this musical.This production of The Sound of Music, is a visual delight. Presented in 360 degree surround sound and 270 degree LED set projection, the play ensures a complete theatre experience for the audience. The LED projected sets are varied and spectacular. From scenic mountains to exquisite stained glass panels in a church, to beautiful gardens and grand estates and stunning interiors, the visual variety in this play is endless.
When a nun (Maria), proves too high-spirited for the religious life, she is dispatched to serve as a governess for the seven children of a widowed naval Captain, George Von Trapp. Meher Mistry as Maria, is outstanding and literally owns the stage. She has a fresh emotive face and a marvellous voice. Her growing rapport with the youngsters, coupled with her generosity of spirit, gradually captures the heart of the stern Captain, and they marry. Arunoday Singh as Von Trapp is a bit stiff but surprises us with his singing. The seven children are a delight, especially Gretel, the littlest and cutest one! Marianne D’Cruz as Mother Superior and Kunal Vijayakar as Max, a friend of the Von Trapp’s, are also very effective. Upon returning from their honeymoon Maria and the Captain discover that Austria has been invaded by the Nazis, who demand the Captain’s immediate service in their navy. The family’s narrow escape over the mountains to Switzerland on the eve of World War II, provides one of the most thrilling and inspirational finales ever presented in theatre. This production has shown the escape in a most dramatic fashion!Hats off to Raell for using children from six NGOs to also act in this show and for even getting the kids from the Blind school to sing. There are almost 150 actors and a hundred backstage people involved in this production, so you can well imagine its grand scale!