The Hills Are Alive With The Wonderful Performance Of The Sound Of Music

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The Sound Of Music Malaysia Media Conference
The Sound Of Music Malaysia Media Conference

Live musical performances have been sorely missed by Malaysians since 2020 when Covid-19 struck. Now it’s all back in full force and we get to enjoy what was absent from our lives for too long. Yesterday, media were invited to a media conference and backstage tour of The Sound Of Music at Istana Budaya KL.

Produced by Broadway International Group and presented by Base Entertainment Asia, the Musical also features 17 local children as members of the von Trapp family. It’s undeniable that The Sound Of Music is beloved all over the world. By the time I was in my late teens, I had watched the movie several times as it was regularly on tv. Many in my generation can probably remember the lyrics to the beautiful songs or at least hum along as the songs are so familiar.

During yesterday’s media preview, media were treated to selected songs performed by the lead actors, namely “The Hills Are Alive” (which was sung to perfection by Christine Wiley who plays Maria Rainer), “Do Re Mi” (the 7 children who play the von Trapp children are so good that it’s hard to believe they only rehearsed for a few weeks and some of them have never been in any production before) & lastly, “Climb Ev’ry Mountain” (Maria & the Mother Abbess”). Last night was Lauren Kidwell’s (who plays the Mother Abbess) 500th performance in this musical. Her powerful soprano voice is nothing short of spectacular and can bring the house down, it even made me want to cry (a bit) as her voice is THAT good. In her nun’s habit, she kind of reminded me of Kathy Najimy in “Sister Act”.

Maria's opening scene
Maria’s opening scene
Captain von Trapp presenting the von Trapp children
Captain von Trapp presenting the von Trapp children
The von Trapp children introducing themselves to Maria
The von Trapp children introducing themselves to Maria
Maria teaches the von Trapp children how to sing "Do Re Mi"
Maria teaches the von Trapp children how to sing “Do Re Mi”
Mother Superior & Maria
Mother Superior & Maria

This musical is definitely value-for-money as the 1st half (before intermission) is almost 1.5 hours long although you don’t feel it’s dragging along. The songs and dances are entertaining, the choreographer of this musical is as talented as the actors. The 1st half really ended on a high note with Kathy Najimy Lauren Kidwell giving it her all and it was then that I felt we (the audience) were incredibly lucky to have watched her outstanding performance. Yes, you can tell Lauren Kidwell has a new fan & I am not or ever was a big fan of “The Sound Of Music”, but Lauren Kidwell has changed my mind. She sang every note effortlessly and made me wish she had more scenes so that she could sing more with that jaw-dropping voice of hers.

During the group interview session yesterday, the choreographer had mentioned the dance routine during “Sixteen Going On Seventeen” was not in the original movie. This routine between the actors who played the eldest von Trapp child, Liesl and Rolf, the telegram boy is quite enchanting.

Equally impressive of course are Malaysia’s young talent. There are 17 children filling the roles of the von Trapp children and they are divided into 3 groups. I am so impressed that they have no stage fright, it’s as if they have honed their acting and singing skills for years on stage. I was never even half as confident as them when I was their age and would have butterflies in my stomach just being on the debating team in school. These children are such an asset to our country and prove that Malaysia has so much young (and undiscovered) talent.

So if you ask me whether this musical is worth watching, my answer is a resounding yes. Everything from the set, acting, singing and even the orchestra left me in awe. My friends were even more blown away by the amazing performance. At the end when the actors took their bows, many of us gave them a well-deserved standing ovation and for those who could stand but didn’t, then I think they couldn’t appreciate the WOW-ness of this musical. Anyway, who can not appreciate a Rodgers and Hammerstein musical, brought to a quality the majority of us have not witnessed before.

This is truly a rare opportunity to watch a world-class musical and we are indeed fortunate to have it right at our doorstep. It’s a musical that is going to be enjoyed by all genders, regardless of race and age. It’s universal, timeless, a classic with unforgettable songs and a message that all of us, just like Captain von Trapp should choose the right path in life.

By the way, I kept my mask on throughout the entire performance but many did not. Of course it’s all up to the individual but I heard people coughing around me and in particular, there was a man across the aisle with a hacking cough which disconcerted me.

The Sound Of Music is on at Istana Budaya till 15 January 2023.

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