Last Friday I made a horrible mistake and said there were 5 von Trapp boys and 2 girls. Scratch that reverse it. For someone who has been a fan of all things von Trapp for over 20 years, that was a doozy. There are in fact two boys, five girls. Still...boys should not wear floral lederhosen. Ever.
There were a few other mistakes, I'm sure. I will try my best with proof reading this week!
Actors, Singers, and Dancers
NBC's Sound of Music Live, as a whole was very entertaining and full of talent. While Carrie Underwood is very much a singer without as much legitimate theatre experience as many of her co-stars, I feel like she tackled the leading role of Maria very well considering that Julie Andrews' portrayal is SO well known and Carrie certainly had some big shoes to fill.
I think the performance I enjoyed the most was Laura Benanti as Baroness Schraeder. She delivered her lines believably and is definitely a talented singer. I think that, although her background is in theater, she was able to tone down the bigness of theatre expressions which definitely worked in her favor for a live television production. Coincidently, Ms. Benanti understudied and then starred in the 1998 Broadway revival of The Sound of Music as Maria von Trapp.
Tony award winner Audra McDonald was wonderful as Mother Abbess. Unfortunately she received some negative tweets about her race and the role she was playing. True, the Reverend Mother during Maria's time at Nonnberg Abbey was not black, but this play is someone's representation of those events. None of it was 100% authentic but that didn't really effect Howard Lindsay and Russell Crouse's story or Rodger's and Hammerstein's songs. This was The Sound of Music, not South Pacific.
People sounding like they were switching in and out of accents was something that bothered me quite a bit. When an actor is going from speaking in a character accent to sounding like their self, essentially they aren't staying in character. On the subject of accents, Admiral von Schrieber was one of the only characters with a German accent. This seems unnecessary and in fact rather cartoony, giving the villain a thick "foreign" accent compared to the rest of the cast.
At the very end I was a little confused by the second Bible verse that Reverend Mother quoted. Of course the first was Psalm 121:1 which is quoted in the 1965 film version. The next verse quoted on Sound of Music Live was part of Isaiah 55:12 "For ye shall go out with joy, and be led forth with peace: the mountains and the hills shall break forth before you into singing." I'm not sure if this verse was quoted in the original Broadway production but it the words didn't really seem to fit the mood in the play at that moment.
When looked at in context to Isaiah 55:11-13 it makes a little more sense that a family of refugees doing what they feel to be God's will would be feeling peace. I don't think joy was being felt by the characters in the play or by the real von Trapps as they were leaving Austria.
As much as I found "wrong" with this play I did enjoy being able to see The Sound of Music performed almost true to the original Broadway performance.
I would give the performance of the cast Sound of Music Live 4 out of 5 stars. This was live. They had one chance for everything. Some of the cast were not as experienced as others and I would venture to guess that the majority of viewers were comparing this to the 1965 film where actors were granted as many takes as necessary for scenes against a beautiful Austrian back drop. As a whole the cast and crew of Sound of Music Live did a great job with this massive musical undertaking.
So Long Farewell
I was going to quote James Cagney as George M. Cohan in Yankee Doodle Dandy(1942) about his new play titled Popularity. Mr. Cohan urges the audience to "Please, miss it."
Now, I don't think NBC's Sound of Music should be missed, but appreciated for what it is. A live televised theatre production. It was done well, but to be enjoyed should not be compared with an on location film. Lastly, it should be remembered that Theatre and film can never rewrite the true story of the von Trapp Family.
Thank you so much for reading these reviews. I will admit they show more than a little bias toward the 1965 Sound of Music film in spots. In case you missed the others and would like to start at the very beginning, a very good place to start, they can be found via the links below.: