I want to admit to something laughable – one of my favourite films is The Sound of Music. Possibly because I had one of the best nights out ever when I went to the Singalonga version at the Prince Charles Theatre in London, and possibly because of the bit where the Reverend Mother calls Maria a c**t face.
I mean, what’s not to like? It has brilliant songs, great scenery and old sexy boots himself, Christopher Plummer. It’s true that we do have to put up with Maria weaseling the lovely baroness out of his affections, but I have always thought there was plenty of space on their long walk to Switzerland for him to push her off the Matterhorn without anybody noticing (or caring) much.
In fact, what a great sequel that would be. We could start with an aerial shot of her tumbling down the Reichenbach Falls (wrong movie, ed) and giving one last plaintive yodel before cutting to the children finding hidden Nazi gold, and outwitting Ernst Stavro Blofeld in his cliff top hideout.
Where was I? Oh, the singalonga version. If you haven’t been to one, you must go. The night I went there was a chap in the aisle cradling a five-month old baby, an entire row of drunken Aussies behind us, and some random bloke dressed as a brown paper parcel wrapped up with string. Where else could you put all that lot in complete harmony? Although harmony is possibly not the right word considering our poor efforts in the nuns’ latin plainsong.
Those Aussies should really make themselves available for every performance. When Maria sat down in the meadow with her guitar, one of them yelled, ‘Stairway, Maria, give them Stairway!’ When Max bundled the kids into his car, another shouted in deep dismay, ‘Oh, no! Don’t leave the children with Uncle Max!’
But it was the bit where Maria goes back to the abbey that caused the most hilarity. Somebody sitting next to me said, ‘Oh my God, this is the bit where Reverend Mother swears at Maria.’ And sure enough, in the next few seconds we had Peggy Mount intoning gloomily, ‘What is it Maria? What is it you can’t face?’
I was so inspired that, a few weeks after this, I went to see Singalonga Wizard of Oz. But it wasn’t the same at all, because the Wizard of Oz is such a good, well made film that you simply can’t take the mick out of it in the same way. To work, it really has to be a bad film, with good songs that everybody knows. Hmm… I’m just off to book tickets for Singalonga Mamma Mia. In Australia.