One of the casualties of COVID-19 was Queanbeyan Players' planned March 2020 production of The Sound of Music.
The long, unavoidable delay has meant a few cast members have had to be replaced and, sadly, original music director Michael Politi died in the interim and was replaced by Jenna Hinton.
But first-time directors Anthony Swadling and Alison Newhouse and their cast and crew carried on and the musical - the final collaboration between composer Richard Rodgers and lyricist Oscar Hammerstein II - will now be seen.
Swadling, an actor in many Canberra musicals, says Newhouse - who had played Sister Margaretta in a production several years ago - approached him about The Sound of Music in mid-2019.
"She said, 'I need some help, will you do it with me?'"
He came on board and they divvied up the stage and administrative duties.
Swadling says one of the things that makes The Sound of Music a perennial favourite is its tuneful score.
"My Favourite Things, Do Re Mi, The Lonely Goatherd - there are so many classic songs in it."
Another part of the appeal, he says, is the heartwarming story, based on Maria von Trapp's memoir, in which a young Austrian postulant who becomes a governess to a widowed naval captain's seven children as the Nazi threat rises.
"I wanted to get the character of Maria, the free-spirited, energetic, passionate aspect of her - I tried to bring that out."
He also wanted to make the Baroness, Maria's rival for the Captain's affections, a more sympathetic character than the villainess she is sometimes portrayed to be, and to give all the characters - even the nuns' chorus - individuality.
The 1959 musical was popular but it was the 1965 film version, a huge box office hit, that really cemented The Sound of Music into the popular consciousness.
Swadling credits Julie Andrews, who played Maria, with a large part of the film's success. Andrews won an Oscar for her film debut in Mary Poppins (1964) and her charm and beautiful singing worked well in both films.
He also praises the film's Captain von Trapp, Christopher Plummer. Although Plummer - who died recently at the age of 91 - had a long and distinguished career on stage and screen, The Sound of Music was his best-known film, mentioned in the first line of his obituaries. Plummer apparently did not enjoy making the movie - he referred to it as The Sound of Mucus - but in more recent years seemed to soften in his attitude. In one 2015 interview he described it as "a fairy story come to life ... the last bastion of innocence in a very cynical time".
For this production, the rights to use two songs written for the film by Richard Rodgers after Hammerstein's death were obtained in recognition of the screen version's enduring popularity. Something Good replaced An Ordinary Couple as a duet for the Captain and Maria and I Have Confidence was added as a solo number for Maria.
Because of coronavirus, Swadling has been involved with The Sound of Music for 18 months, about three times longer than the usual commitment to a show. He says he would like to direct again. However, after the extended work on The Sound of Music, he will be taking a break from the stage.
The Sound of Music. Music by Richard Rodgers. Lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II and Rodgers. Book by Howard Lindsay and Russel Crouse. Directed by Anthony Swadling and Alison Newhouse. Choreography by Jodi Hammond. Musical direction by Jenna Hinton. Queanbeyan Players. Queanbeyan Performing Arts Centre, March 11 to 21, 2021. theq.net.au. There will also be a streamed performance on Saturday, March 20 at 7.30pm. Bookings: stagecenta.com.