Amateur dramatic society Sidcup Musical Productions is bringing its production of The Sound of Music to the Bob Hope Theatre in Eltham this week. It’s a musical that, despite its enduring popularity, is rarely performed in south London due to copyright constraints, writes Holly O’Mahony…

“Nobody had performed the show locally for years [because of ] it not being available from the rights holders,” explains Chris Williams, director of the production and a member of Sidcup since the ‘90s. “The opportunity arose and we went for it. The Sound of Music is a feelgood show, and with doom and gloom ever surrounding us, audiences are in need of the feelgood factor.”

The Sound of Music was made famous by Robert Wise’s 1965 film, and the stage version uses the same score which was composed by Richard Rodgers with lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II. The story follows Maria, a carefree nun-in-training who leaves her nunnery in Salzburg, Austria to become a governess for the seven children of firm but fair Captain von Trapp. Through teaching the children – and subsequently their father – a love of music, Maria manages to restore happiness in the family, and eventually falls in love with the widowed captain.

Sidcup Musical Productions holds rehearsals every Friday evening at Hurst Community Centre in Sidcup, Kent. They produce two big shows a year – one in spring, the other in autumn – performing these at the Bob Hope Theatre in Eltham. The company’s repertoire is largely made up of musicals and what they describe as ‘light operatic works’.

Chris has always enjoyed directing. The first show she directed for Sidcup came about “by accident” when the then director “did a diva” and walked out of a rehearsal in a strop. That was back in the ‘90s and Chris is still directing for Sidcup today.

With many of the cast and creative team fitting in The Sound of Music around other jobs and school committments, the rehearsal process has been a relatively drawn-out affair. “Auditions were held in September and October 2018, then the first rehearsal for the children was held in December.” Most of the children in the show train with local drama schools including All The Arts Theatre School, Michelle Sidwell Academy of Dance and Susie Clarke Dance School.

“This is a big show. The musical director Alan Thompson, choreographer Elyse Herbert and I have worked with the cast since January trying to make it as good as possible within the time constraints,” says Chris. “We have some very talented principals with a wealth of both amateur and professional experience.” Indeed, several cast members turned down other opportunities to be part of The Sound of Music, not only for the joy of being in the show, but because of how rarely it’s staged in the area. “The Sound of Music is an iconic show, unashamedly sentimental and fun to perform,” concludes Chris.

If you don’t manage to catch Sidcup’s production of The Sound of Music, but are curious to see the group in action – or, if you see the show and want to see more of what they do – you can: the company has secured the rights to 1956 musical The King and I – another collaboration between Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II – which they’ll be performing at the Bob Hope Theatre in April 2020.

The Sound of Music is on at the Bob Hope Theatre, Wythfield Road, London SE9 5TG.

March 26 – 30, at 7:30pm with a 2:30pm matinee on Saturday.

Admission: £14/£13 concessions.


Photo: Last year’s of performance Quasimodo