The online reaction to “The Sound of Music Live!”, which aired on NBC Thursday night (Dec. 5), has run the gamut. Some really enjoyed it, others found it unbearable. But it’s the ignorant viewers out there that have my hackles raised.
The production was not without its flaws, certainly. There were a few odd lighting choices that felt kind of soap opera-y. And Carrie Underwood is definitely not an actress. She was pretty stiff in many of her deliveries (though she did have a few good moments).
However, Underwood has also never claimed to be an actress. In interviews about this production, she has said that she’s not trying to be Julie Andrews, who starred in the movie nearly 50 years ago.
But Underwood was given this opportunity and she has to be praised for even attempting it. Live theater is hard. Live theater in front of millions of people on a major television network? Yikes. Plus, “The Sound of Music” is not an easy show. It’s a three-hour stage musical and carrying that is a huge undertaking, especially for your first time out.
Underwood’s vocals were terrific — the Southern twang crept in there in spots, but she tried very hard to keep it out — and she and Stephen Moyer and the rest of the cast clearly worked their butts off for weeks and then for three hours of live TV. Why so much hate?
A lot of the haters online were talking about this being a “remake” and how could they possibly step into the shoes of Christopher Plummer and Julie Andrews? That’s what really makes me mad — they weren’t doing anything of the sort.
Just because there was a well-done, wildly popular movie, does that suddenly mean the stage production should never be attempted ever again? Should local theaters just throw out “Sound of Music” (and while they’re at it, “Grease” and “My Fair Lady” and “Cabaret”) and never perform those shows?
Of course not. That’s absurd. And the vitriol directed thusly is also absurd.
“Real Housewives” star Taylor Armstrong had maybe our favorite absurd tweets of the night, “Do not like the new songs in the classic #SoundofMusic! Leave a legend alone!! … Bastardizing a true classic w new songs – disappointed.”
*headsmack* They weren’t new songs. They were the songs from the original musical.
This wasn’t a remake of the movie, gang. This was the stage production. Guess what? It’s different. And it came first. “The Sound of Music” won a Tony for Best Musical six years before the movie was released — was Julie Andrews “daring” to step into the shoes of Mary Martin, famed Broadway actress who originated the role of Maria?
NBC went out of its way to prepare people for the fact that this was a performance of the stage show — and how could you not get that, watching it on TV? The only thing missing from this theatrical performance was a live audience.
And frankly, that’s my only major criticism. I think a live audience would’ve done wonders for this production.
In my theater experience, Sunday matinees are always hard because the audience tends to be populated by an older crowd. We would call them “smiling audiences,” because they’re enjoying the show but the actual out-loud responses are few and far between. And smiling audiences make the performances feel flat — stage actors feed off of the laughter and the applause. It enhances the show.
An audience laughing and clapping would have really helped “The Sound of Music” last night. You could tell there were nerves from the non-Broadway veteran actors, particularly Underwood. And why wouldn’t she be nervous? I was nervous for her. This was a massive thing to attempt.
She certainly got better as the production went along, as she found her footing. An audience would have only made that easier.
I applaud NBC and the entire cast for trying this and pulling it off — because they did pull it off. They performed the entire three-hour “Sound of Music” live on TV with nary a mistake.
Of course there is room for snark. Just check out actress Anna Kendrick’s Twitter feed for a perfect example of someone who is clearly having a lot and appreciating “The Sound of Music Live!” for what it is.