Showing posts with label review. Show all posts
Showing posts with label review. Show all posts

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Favorite Things Friday || Carrie Underwood Sound of Music Review Part 4

Edit:
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.:





Friday, March 14, 2014

Favorite Things Friday || Carrie Underwood Sound of Music Review Part 3

  Just so readers are aware, I have not seen the original, complete, stage version of the Sound of Music. I have read 5 books by Maria von Trapp, Agathe von Trapp's book, and Die Trapp Familie, the German movie that the Broadway show was based on. Also, This review is going to have to be in multiple parts. I am not as concise as a professional critic, and I think I have a lot more knowledge on this subject than the average critic would have, so bear with me here. I want to share some things about Maria's books and "how it really happened" along with some insight into the German movie, what I do know of the original  Broadway show, the 1965 film, and tonight's televised production.

That was my intro to these reviews nearly 4 months ago. I've forgotten some of what I thought or felt about the relatively recent Sound of Music Production on NBC last December which starred Carrie Underwood. However, I did take notes which I lost after part 2 of 4 and finally found exactly 1 week ago. 

This new Favorite Things Friday series will first consist of the last three Sound of Music Reviews and after that will feature a few of my favorite things. There could be blogs, Etsy Shops, or things about classic movies, music, etc. You'll just have to wait and see! 

Let's get started on this review.
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Costumes and Inevitable Comparisons

Something that really stood out to my musical loving mind while watching NBC's Sound of Music Live was the fact that Uncle Max looked incredibly like Rooster from Annie. That was all I could think of every. single. time. he. was. on. screen. I think if he had shaved the pencil mustache it would have improved his character portrayal 200%. The facial hair worked for Richard Haydn in the 1965 film but he also spoke with a British accent. Basically, American+pencil mustache = Rooster Hannigan. I shouldn't fret about it after all the sun will come out tomorrow.

(I will not speak about the head pieces of the singers behind Uncle Max)


The children's play clothes made me roll my eyes. Floral sprays for girls AND the boys. Let's not forget there were only two von Trapp girls and FIVE boys! Kurt looks very much like he's about to cry or throw up. While the gold/tan damask in the movie is not exactly masculine, it is a neutral color and it is not flowers!


 Gold costumes were used in the NBC television production in the scene where Maria teaches Kurt the Laendler. In fact both Maria, Kurt, and the set were the same exact gold, peach, and orange hues in that scene. It was hard to tell where the people ended and the walls began. Perhaps it was to hide the fact Carrie isn't so light on her feet? She did catch her heel on her shirt and fall during one of her concerts...

Another huge thing is the era. The costumes in NBC'S Sound of Music Live were very much mid to late 1940s style. Even the hair styles were from the 1940s, especially Liesl's. The actual real life von Trapps lived out these events beginning in the mid 1920s. Georg and Maria were married on November 26, 1927 and they left Austria in 1938. That said, the condensed era also makes the movie costumes slightly off style as well. I heard years ago, I think in a Christopher Plummer interview he mentioned that Dorothy Jeakins, the costume designer in the 1965 film said of the costumes she made, "If they weren't supposed to zip, they didn't zip." Watch the film again sometime and you'll notice there are no zippers on any of the dresses!

Jeakins' design of the wedding dress in the film was actually fairly similar to Maria von Trapp's own wedding dress. You can see some pictures of the two dresses over on the  Edelwiess Patterns Blog
Carrie Underwood's wedding dress in this television production followed suit, pun intended, with the other costumes and just looked way too modern.

I know someone must've worked hard on the costumes for NBC's Sound of Music Live but it just didn't appear a whole lot of thought was put into it pertaining to the era. It looked as if the few costumes that didn't copy style or color of film costumes were sewn together from some vintage 1940s patterns. Beautiful costumes, but they didn't quite fit even for "The last golden days of the thirties." Assuming the setting of play and film both take place at the same time. Costumes get just 1 out of 5 stars.