Think of The Sound of Music, and the classic 1965 film starring Julie Andrews instantly comes to mind.

And the big screen version, which opens with Andrews striding across the Austrian Alps, is a firm favourite which has spanned the generations.

But theatre-goers will be quick to point out that the stage version came first. Co-written by Russel Crouse and Howard Lindsay, it opened 60 years ago in 1959.

And next week, the iconic musical will come to the Queen’s Hall stage in Hexham.

Members of Hexham Amateur Stage Society (HASS) have been working hard in rehearsals for the ambitious production, under the guidance of director Jude Long.

It will the latest in a long list of five-star projects by HASS, which received rave reviews for its recent performances, with HMS Pinafore, Fiddler on the Roof, and Evita among the highlights.

Jude is perhaps best known in Tynedale for her day job as headteacher of Humshaugh C of E First School. But she’s also the wife of Will Long, who has played several eye-catching lead roles for HASS in recent years.

The couple moved to Hexham 11 years ago from London, where they both worked in theatre.

“Will was a professional actor, and we did shows together,” said Jude. “I have a dance degree and have choreographed and produced am drams in the south of the country. Now we’re in Hexham, it’s an absolute privilege to work with HASS and to direct The Sound of Music. It has been very enjoyable and we are all excited about what we have to come next week.”

Originally, Jude and Will were set to be co-directors, but Will has been casted in the role of Captain von Trapp. He will combine this with the job of associate director.

HASS members will be joined by children from across the district following a series of successful auditions. There are two sets of children, who will play alternate nights due to the length of the five-day production. They have been categorised into two groups, the von group, and the Trapp group.

“Because it’s the story of a family, we had to be very specific. We had to find children in height order, and also look at how they behaved and conducted themselves, as well as their ability to sing and dance.

“The children have been fantastic. For them to give up their phones and modern lives, and live in their characters in a 1930s setting, they have to be really dedicated.

“It is a different type of show this time for HASS. It is quite formulaic in a way, with scenes involving different elements of the cast. There is very little for the chorus to do.”

Jude said the stage won’t be over-loaded with props. Instead, a grand staircase will be complemented with a clever use of lighting and background imagery.

The Queen’s Hall audience can expect to see a performance which will be as close to the 1959 original as possible.

“It’s minimal, yet more modern, in terms of our approach,” she added. “The stage show is a bit different to the film. But it will be in keeping with the original. It’s not an adaptation.

“We have a really strong cast, and they are at that point where they are ready for an audience.”

As a headteacher, Jude believes performing arts should play a key role in school life. “It should be vital in every curriculum,” she said. “The confidence that children get from it is vital.”

The Sound of Music will be staged at the Queen’s Hall from Tuesday, November 5, to Saturday, November 9, from 7pm. There will also be a Saturday matinee from 2pm.