Charlotte Wakefield as Maria & the Children. Photo: Johan Persson

Charlotte Wakefield as Maria & the Children. Photo: Johan Persson

Walking through Regent’s Park to see a play is one of the great boons of living in this part of the world. A preambulation through the rose garden calms the senses, then once inside the Open Air Theatre complex, real life quickly melts away behind the dense shrubbery, replaced by a dreamy world of ever-chinking champagne glasses, winking fairy lights and delicious on-stage dramas.

The current production – Rodgers and Hammerstein’s obsessively adored Sound of Music – is the perfect stuff of balmy summer nights spent in the cosy grandeur of the Park’s Inner Circle. The audience is pleasingly diverse, from cheery pensioners to enthusiastic 5-year-olds on a late night treat, plus loads of gay couples too, lest we forget the musical’s iconic camp status.

From the first number it’s clear this evening is going to be all celebration, for the familiar songs as well as their alfresco setting. When Charlotte Wakefield’s infectiously bubbly young Maria serenades us from the back, a pigeon with ambition raises titters for its walk-on appearance stage left. Wakefield won’t be upstaged though, and is soon winning hearts as she runs gleefully around the aisles upon first meeting the children.

The Nuns. Photo: Johan Persson

The Nuns. Photo: Johan Persson

The Von Trapp clan, played by a rotation of child actors, are a delight. Yet nobody present can be having more fun than they are themselves, belting out the famous numbers with gleeful abandon, like the rest of the cast. Who knew an unassuming nun could hit the soaring high notes of Helen Hobson’s Mother Abbess?

A couple of numbers that are not in the Julie Andrews movie keep things interesting and sound no less anthemnic for not being karaoke staples. Singing kids, idyllic setting, classic tunes – what’s not to like? Luckily the production doesn’t coast with these gifts, but keeps the celebratory spirit rolling so that even the menacing appearance of the final act’s Nazi storm troopers can’t dampen the mood.

Our evening ends with a standing ovation from the squiffy picnic crowd. We know we’re about to be spat out into the real world again, but the feelgood effect carries with us as we wander back along park roads, dizzy with the magic of a warm London summer.

Runs until September 7th, Open Air Theatre, Inner Circle Tickets £25-£55 available here

[button link=””]Forgot to book a posh picnic? Don’t panic, here’s our Top 5 places to eat around the Park before the show[/button]

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