Holy Rogers and Hammerstein, Captain! It's an all-Ghanaian cast of The Sound of Music! Amazing. I spotted the poster while on the Tro Tro and knew I needed to see this!
The show was produced at the Ghana National Theatre, one of Accra's finest architechtural sites, designed and built by the Republic of China (well, not the whole Republic of China... surely they had other things to do, but they commissioned the building). The architecture reflects the Chinese influence. I attended the show with another CCI volunteer and his housemate.
Here are a few of my favourite (and not so favourite) things about the production. I'll say straight off the bat that the actress who played Maria (I will update this entry with her name tomorrow), carried the entire show. Her voice was great, she hit every note and her acting had that "musical-theatre-student-I-need-some-ritalin" energy and snap. She was absolutely great.
Other notable performances included Liesl and Rolph (Sixteen Going on Seventeen was adorable). Liesl had a great voice but wasn't miked so we didn't get to hear her all that well. Max seemed to play the audience well, hamming it up to the audience's enjoyment... ah yes, the audience, now there's a character in the show that played a huge role! The audience was very interactive, often singing along or shouting comments back at the characters (one teenage girl's voice was heard during the Captain's solo: "Sing to ME!"). Whenever there was a slip up, the audience would crack up, but warmly applaud and cheer when the actor/actress would get back on the right track (or in the case of the Mother Abbess, getting back on the right note(s)... Climb Every Mountain was a little rough). They also booed the Nazis when they marched on stage.
So what were the bee stings and the dog bites of the production? Well, the show was over THREE HOURS long with no intermission which made me feel very VON TRAPPED! Not to mention Von Thirsty and Von Hungry... Am I over Von Doing it? There were plenty of moments of dead air they could have cut and scenes they could have tightened to make the play run smoother and faster.
The most noticeable shortcoming of The Sound of Music was the audio production. Microphone glitches, audio levels and the balance of background sound with vocals were an unfortunate occurrence. They also didn't have a mic for everyone in the cast, which is fine, but they made a funny choice hooking Gretl up with her very own mic. Now although Gretl was super-duper-Olson Twins-circa-first-season-of-Full-House-cute, she barely had any lines, didn't sing along with the others all the time and her head was too small for the headset - thus employing the mic as a necklace rather than an audio device.
The Captain was pretty good but fell flat a wee bit too much and took the "conservative stiff" personality a little too literally with a strut reminiscent of Gumby.
One really funny choice that I'm sure Rogers and Hammerstein wouldn't have thought up on their own but I really liked was playing the Baroness as a very scantily-clad gold-digger with a nasty attitude. With every entrance, the Baroness played it up as the audience would hoot and holler disapprovingly at her scandalous outfit and 6 inch heels.
All in all, it was a lovely performance and a great experience. The theatre is beautiful and it was fun to hear all the familiar Sound of Music tunes (for you die-hard Sound of Music fans out there, I am happy to report that Kurt hit his high note during "So Long, Farewell"... not an easy task for a twelve-year-old boy!).
I really hope this production company puts on another musical! According to the program they are planning to put on Grease and Joseph and the Technicolour Dream Coat! I am seriously considering auditioning if they'll have me!
Note: I tried to post video of the show but again the internet connection doesn't seem to be strong enough to handle it. I'll try again another day. Hrmph.