16 July 2017, Municipal Theatre, Waipawa
There was a buzz in the air at this matinee performance: the Waipawa Musical and Dramatic Club’s production of The Sound of Music. A lot of the audience had family members in the cast, crew or orchestra, and they sported huge smiles which matched mine and attested to our anticipation.
And we weren’t disappointed. The talented cast led us through the ever-familiar story and songs, the orchestra was so good as to go almost unnoticed, and the crew organised some magnificent sets.
I love the feeling of submerging into a performance – at the theatre, the movies, when watching a television series at home – the cocoon of cotton wool that rises to hold me in the space of the story and carry me along with it. There were a couple of things that jarred me out of this cocoon while watching The Sound of Music, one of which was the accents some of the cast were using. I sat for quite some time trying to figure out why they might have thought them necessary, whether they added anything to the trajectory of the story or the characters themselves. I thought about whether I would have even noticed if they’d kept their own accents. The other thing that brought me out of the cocoon were the technical difficulties. I don’t know how many shows they’d already done, whether this was one where some challenges still needed to be ironed out, but the right-hand speakers didn’t work for the entire show.
Once I pushed past these things and focused on the show, the cast carried me away along the storyline brilliantly. It was exciting to be so close to a story being told – the immediacy of theatre, the fallibility of humans, the facial expressions as the characters interacted with each other.
The casting was superb; the children were an absolute delight, and the most inspired casting was “Uncle Max”, who played his part so persuasively I would struggle not to call him Max if I were to meet him in the street. His comic relief in the show was perfect, as was little Gretel’s – she was such a natural, showed such spunk, and delivered her lines with style.
I sat in the darkened theatre amazed that I could come to little old Waipawa and see a show of such high caliber, while the building itself contributed such a lovely, provincial air to the experience, reminiscent of Country Women’s Institute knitting competitions, the regular dances that were held on that same floor maybe 50 years ago, bake sales for fundraising…. I guess it appealed to my own nostalgia for a time when communities centred on a hall, or a marae, or a church. When there was a regular coming together in these spaces, and a sense of enjoyment and accomplishment in things collectively done. All this I got from the show, and vowed to attend more.
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