The Whangarei Theatre Company can feel justifiably proud of the highly professional standard achieved at the opening night of The Sound of Music.
Such performances do not come without outstanding teamwork on and off stage.
The musical, the last collaboration between Rodgers and Hammerstein, was first staged in 1959. More than half a century later this cast, under the able direction of Ian Page, brought a freshness and vitality to the show while still reflecting the original intentions of its creators.
Claudia Cooke (Maria) sang flawlessly and captured well both the girlish enthusiasm and the transition from girl to woman the character required. Prudence Martin (Mother Abbess) gave outstanding characterisation and sang with great control. Pani John Taukiri (Captain von Trapp) was believable in the transition from martinet to warm, loving father. All the supporting cast performed with aplomb. Debbie Graham portrayed the selfish, ambitious Baroness Schraeder with conviction while Dean Alsop's "foot in both camps" Max was equally plausible.
Vocal coach Monica Nance is to be congratulated on the vocal performance of the chorus of nuns.
Their balanced intoning in close harmony belied the difficulty of ensemble work.
Dean Watson was impressive as Rolf and his Sixteen Going On Seventeen duet with Liesl (Kate Hutchinson) was one of the highlights. It was all there from both young thespians - confident and tuneful singing, light-footed dancing, and an excellent understanding of their respective characters.
Which brings us to the children; two groups perform on alternate nights.
The opening night's "Vienna" group was delightful. They acted, sang and danced with freshness, vitality and characterisation.
Also impressive was the 20-piece orchestra directed by Ray Palmer. Whangarei is fortunate to have an amateur team capable of a professional standard production. This show warrants full houses.