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I saw this production at the Grand Theatre, Wolverhampton, on 13th October 2012. It was performed by South Staffordshire Musical Theatre Company, an amateur company – but this certainly felt like a professional production.

The story is a well known one – a young Nun named Maria is struggling to cope with life inside the convent, where she lives in Austria.  She is sent away to become a governess to the seven children of the widowed Captain Von Trapp.  The Captain is initially formidable and doesn’t approve of Maria’s methods (basically, she lets the children have fun and teaches them to sing), but he softens towards her and the two fall in love.  However, their happiness is threatened by the arrival of the Nazis into Germany…

Okay, here’s a small confession….I have NEVER seen the famous Rodgers and Hammerstein film starring Julie Andrews and Christopher Plummer.  I know the story of course, so I knew more or less what to expect in that respect.  What I didn’t know was that by the end of the show, my mouth would be aching from smiling so much, or that I would have had to wipe a few tears from my eyes.

It’s hard to pick out any specific members of the cast, only because they were all so good, but I cannot review this production without commenting on Claudia Gilmour, who had the unenviable task of taking on the part made so famous by Julie Andrews.  Claudia simply has the most beautiful singing voice, and her acting was also wonderful – I really liked her portrayal.  Tim Brown was also terrific is Captain Von Trapp, and his change from formidable and unapproachable, to gentle and loving was lovely to see.

Most of the songs are very familiar to even those like me, who have not seen the film. Do Re Me and A Few Of My Favourite Things were my particular favourites (it was hard not to sing along at the top of my voice, but I couldn’t subject those sitting near to me, to that!), but actually all of the songs were really lovely.

This was a fabulous production, with clearly a lot of hard work from all involved.  Their work paid off – the show is a triumph!

(For more information about The Grand Theatre, Wolverhampton, please click here.  South Staffordshire Musical Theatre Company’s website can be found here.)

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This film stars Robert Mitchum and Deborah Kerr…and that’s about it, apart from numerous extras who don’t have any real dialogue.

Mitchum is the Mr Allison of the title, an American Marine, who finds himself marooned on an island in the Pacific ocean, in World War II. The only other person on the island is Sister Angela, a nun who was also marooned there a few days earlier. Although the two of them have no common ground, with only each other for companionship, they form a friendship and affection for each other. But when the Japanese arrive on the island, they face a very real danger.

Before I go any further with this review, I have to say…I LOVED this film. Loved it. The cast (all two of them), the characters, the storyline – everything. Deborah Kerr is great as Sister Angela. The character had a gentle and kind nature, but also some real backbone, and a subtle sense of humour. This made her the perfect counterpoint to Mitchum’s Mr Allison, who was straight-talking, brave, heroic, and yes I admit it – very sexy! (Mitchum might not have been a conventional heart-throb, but my goodness he had something, and it’s very obvious here!)

The film reminded me in some ways of The African Queen – both directed by John Huston, both set during WWII, both have a main cast of just two characters with little in common, who find respect and affection for each other. However, while there are undoubtedly similarities, both films also have plenty of their own character and individuality, and the main parts in both films are played to perfection.

I started watching Heaven Knows, Mr Allison, with no expectations at all. I thought it sounded like a nice little film to pass a couple of hours away, but within about 10 minutes, I was totally pulled into the story and invested in the characters. It’s no exaggeration to say that this film has shot straight into my top five films of all time (alongside the aforementioned African Queen)! It left me with a warm happy feeling, and I will absolutely watch this again in the near future.

If you haven’t seen this delightful movie, I strongly suggest that you do so at the earliest opportunity!

Year of release: 1957

Director: John Huston

Producers: Buddy Adler, Eugene Frenke

Writers: Charles Shaw (book), John Lee Mahin, John Huston

Main cast: Robert Mitchum, Deborah Kerr

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