REVIEW: The Sound of Music, Mayflower Theatre, Southampton, until Saturday, January 31.

Wow. Wow. And wow. What a fantastic production. And what a superb performance from Danielle Hope as Maria.

If ever you thought The Sound of Music had been done to death, here’s the perfect riposte: a wonderfully-fresh and charming production which shows precisely why the sound will go on.

Hope brings total naturalness to a role which can so easily seem so stagey. In doing so, she beautifully illustrates the sheer power of music, which is precisely what this show is all about.

It takes a very special performance to make you feel you are looking with fresh eyes at something you think you know so well, and Hope delivers with a performance which is as delightful as it is charming. Goodness, I think this might just be one of the best shows I’ve seen in years.

Hope captures perfectly the spirit which makes Maria so famously so troublesome. Her love of music is a love of life, and clearly the convent is never going to contain her – but all sorts of new feelings come flooding in once she uproots to become governess to the seven children of the widowed Captain von Trapp, not least a few unexpected stirrings for the widower himself.

Hope is terrific with the children who are terrific in turn. Do-Re-Mi is the night’s highlight – though there are plenty of close contenders.

Steven Houghton is everything you could hope for in the captain, and their growing closeness – initially resisted on both sides – is beautifully done, as is the threat which looms increasingly from an aggressive Nazi Germany.

The result is the perfect musical. It touches. It stirs. And above all, it delights. If you think “Sound of Music, been there, seen that,” think again. This is musical theatre at its absolute finest.

Phil Hewitt