Star Turns Part Two: The Sound of Music JohnnyFox March 7, 2007 Musicals, Reviews Fast forward to Friday. During the afternoon, I had an appointment at the London Palladium to negotiate its hire for the London Gay Men’s Chorus Christmas show and it was more than exciting to be on that stage, especially as it was maintenance day for Sound of Music and the mountain was rotating on its mechanical axis whilst we discussed the percentage commission on merchandise and whether we could let just any old queens use the Royal Box. Perhaps my smartest piece of negotiation was to ask if I could buy the house seats for the evening performance, and was thrilled to be able to pick up two superb stalls seats at face value, since they’re touted for so much more on the street. Connie Fisher, currently starring in The Sound of Music. By staggering coincidence, it was Connie Fisher’s first day back after illness and Lesley Garrett’s first after holiday so whilst the previous evening’s audience had to accept four major understudies, we were dealt almost a full deck. As it turns out, Garrett’s leaving the cast and Fisher has been given more time off to rest her vocal cords and we may have seen their last performance together. I’ve seen Sound of Music before. And not just the film, although I was taken as an impressionable twelve year old in new shoes which blistered my feet and by my grandmother’s neighbour Alice Oldfield – she who used to tittup across the cobbles on a Thursday with the Heywood Advertiser and say “Hello, Hilda. I’ll tell you who they’ve buried …” – on her twentieth visit to the Theatre Royal, Bury, to see Julie Andrews yodel her technicolour socks off. No, the stage version I saw was at the Apollo Victoria in the early 80’s, I think, when Petula Clark had a crack at it. Presumably she felt being a tax exile in Switzerland gave her a unique alpine insight into the character of Maria von Trapp. It didn’t really give her much of an insight into anything else because she was as painted and wooden as the scenery and any spirited resilience she brought to the part came across as pugnacious defiance that she was, even then, twenty years too old for it. At 23, Connie Fisher has no such problem. She convinced me entirely as a replica of Julie Andrews’ interpretation of the role, and since no stage or screen representation ever attempts to portray the real frumpy, dumpy and grumpy matriarch that was the original Maria Augusta Kutschera von Trapp, who cares if sugary tunefulness is the stock in trade when it’s done as well as this? What really pleased me about this evening was the audience. It was full of people who had saved money to bring family or friends to this show as a treat. Not the usual jaded, half-empty, half-bored West End audience, but out-of-towners who’d made an occasion of it, and the friendliness and enthusiasm of people in the bars and foyers was a genuine delight.