Review: Sound of Music Sing Along

MILO YIANNOPOULOS: ‘I have never been so ashamed to be in an audience as I was last night. It almost made me sorry to be alive.’

Duracell Sound of Music The Corn Exchange

Friday 14th May at the Corn Exchange. £10-14.

Like me, you might have imagined that a night out at a Sing-a-long-a Sound of Music show would do precisely, but little more than, it said on the tin. You too might have expected to arrive at the cinema, sit perhaps a row or two behind a hen party in wimples and listen to some fairly dreadful singing for the three or so hours that The Sound of Music lasts.

You could not be more wrong. Now, I've been to an over-21's Big Weekend at Butlins and survived to tell the tale: I've spilt drinks over Barbies in Boxes and been threatened by 14-stone brickies dressed as Tinkerbell. I've endured Toby Anstis's "DJing" and seen the surviving members of 911 stagger incoherently through their own records while a thousand shop assistants from Rochdale scream "FUCK ME LEE!!!"

But none of that prepared me for last night.

It's hard to convey just how surreal the experience was. But I'll try. It was like a grotesque adult version of a kiddie's birthday party. Imagine a panto for potty-mouthed, sex-obsessed Bridget Jones readers, with a budget Sue Pollard in a monstrous frock roped in to "get the party started" with crass innuendo and some off-key singing. 

As we entered, we were given a small white bag containing a sprig of plastic edelweiss, flashcards, party poppers, an "Invitation to the Captain's Ball" and a health and safety notice – the need for which become more apparent later in the show, as the audience got progressively drunker and rowdier. It was not a pretty sight. At one point, I was convinced that somewhere else in the Corn Exchange there was a second, larger audience, who actually got the irony of what was going on and who were watching us, their faces shot through with fear as row after row of Chantelles and Michaelas belted and violently gesticulated their way through Rogers and Hammerstein. 

Perhaps the saddest sight was the gaggle of harpies in the front row, from whom we heard "Happy Birthday" screeched at regular intervals. Imagine it: you reach 45, and the best your mates can come up with is a few Bacardi and cokes and a night at Sing-a-long-a Sound of Music. If that's what middle age looks like, I'll be looking for a vein the moment I hit thirty.

But wait. They weren't the saddest sight. It was the woman in front of me, who despite being burdened with six inches of make-up managed remarkable animation when she leapt up, at all the wrong moments, to yell "MOUNTAINS!" – especially when there were none to be seen. She quietened down for a while just before the interval, and we wondered whether her husband had, in shame, slipped her a roofie. Alas not: the Duracell hag was merely recharging.

But wait. It wasn't her either, actually. It was definitely the drunken nun who, while on stage for the fancy dress contest, kept sniggering and pointing at her vagina. (That wasn't the von Trapp we came to see, love.)

Let me try to wrap this up.  I have never been so ashamed to be in an audience as I was last night. It almost made me sorry to be alive. And I was scared… mostly because they genuinely seemed to be enjoying themselves. The inescapable truth is that Sing-a-long-a Sound of Music is intended at one hundred per cent face value.

The realisation of that fact, which came as I ordered my eighth gin and tonic (make it go away!), was absolutely fucking terrifying.