MOST people have seen the Sound of Music - the classic 1965 film starring Julie Andrews. And in most cases, they have their favourite characters, scenes and songs.

It’s no easy task, therefore, to revive such a classic. But when Hexham Amateur Stage Society (HASS) brought it to the Queen’s Hall stage in Hexham last week, they brought the house down.

HASS have been a breath of fresh air for decades – every year they reach high standards of performance with HMS Pinafore, Fiddler on the Roof, and Evita among their recent highlights.

The Sound of Music was arguably their best yet. Their recreation of the original stage version, co- written by Russel Crouse and Howard Lindsay back in 1959, captured the magic of a musical which holds a special place in the hearts of many.

The cast spent months working tirelessly on their latest production under the guidance of director Jude Long.

They teamed up with two sets of specially selected local children, who took it in turns to play the von Trapp siblings during the demanding schedule of six showings in five days. And it worked a treat.

Integral to the casting was that of central character Maria Rainer. When Gill Hall started singing My Favourite Things while out in the mountains, she sounded just like Julie Andrews, and raised many a warm smile among an appreciative audience.

The fleet-footed actress showed a remarkable ability to dance and interact with others on stage, as she recreated the sense of freedom her character craved.

Hall’s chemistry with the children during the more emotive scenes, and her eventual on-stage husband Captain Georg von Trapp, brought tears to the eyes of many.

The captain himself, seasoned stage actor Will Long, was the perfect foil. He superbly portrayed the disciplined captain, who was hiding a more playful side.

And when the family finally teamed up to sing together at the Salzburg Festival, there was barely a dry eye in the building.

There were some difficult challenges for the children, starting with the delightful Do-Re-Me, and moving on to other well known numbers, such as So Long, Farewell, and My Favourite Things, but they met them with flying colours.

There were some unforgettable scenes, including the singing of the Lonely Goatherd, in Maria’s bedroom on a stormy night.

The ability of the youngsters to sing, dance, and act, was clear. Rolf Gruber (Noah Newson) and Liesl (Martha Cook), combined superbly for the duet Sixteen Going On Seventeen. Both were outstanding.

The nuns were stars in their own right, from their stunning chorus onwards. Lizzi Freeman-Bradley was a natural Sister Bertha, and Judith Elliott a great Mother Abbess – singing and enjoying good humour while maintaining the authority of Nonnberg Abbey.

In the Sound of Music, Maria wins over her love rival Elsa Schraeder for the affections of the captain. Clair Applegarth oozed confidence in the role of the latter, suitably depicting the glamour and pomposity of the character, in equally good humour. 

There are too many names to mention, but each person who stepped foot on the Queen’s Hall stage, did themselves proud.

From the casting to the music, lightning, and creative imagery, the Sound of Music was a performance of the highest order by HASS, who thoroughly deserved a standing ovation.