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The Sound of Music, Live! (2013)


Let’s admit the truth, whenever we think of favorite things, likely the classic tune that accompanies the song My Favorite Things isn’t far out of our minds. This holiday season, NBC undertook a one night only, live version of the stage production of The Sound of Music. These are the results.

In all likelihood, everyone knows how the story goes, but here’s a little recap of what this beloved saga is all about. Carrie Underwood plays Maria in this version, a young postulant who lives at a convent, about to take holy vows but is failing in her attempts to become a nun. Just when Mother Abbess (Audra McDonald) despairs of ever making Maria into a full-fledged member of their convent, a letter she receives seems an answer to her prayers – a widowed military man is looking for a governess for his seven children. Under Maria’s protests that she’ll do better if she can stay, the Reverend Mother sends her to the home of the von Trapp family where Captain von Trapp (Stephan Moyer) and his children reside. Because of his years of service, he runs his home like a military ship and his children reflect that discipline… until Maria comes along. And so the story goes…  
 
It’s safe to say that each one of us had a conflicting opinion about this production – and that’s just fine. You either didn’t care one way or another about its existence, thought it was disrespectful or were thrilled to pieces. I fell into the latter category. The way I looked at this was that it was no different than going to a live Broadway production (I’ve not seen this on Broadway though did catch a local production and it was fun), only you were invited to watch the story everyone knows and loves from the comfort of your own living room. That sounded heavenly. Multiple interviews of the cast revealed that their production wasn’t a remake of the classic 1965 film starring Julie Andrews, instead this was an adaptation of the original stage production and as such, it was going to be its own interpretation that meant no "disrespect" to the movie. With its all-star cast (a country superstar, well-known television star and familiar Broadway cast), the more videos and teases that came out, I knew this was an event I’d not be able to miss. 
 
Music first; I eagerly downloaded Carrie and Company’s beautiful recordings of the classic songs we all know and love for a new generation, and... Carrie commanded the songs whether it was the catchy tune, “Do-Re-Me” (no country twang to be heard) or “My Favorite Things.” Fortunately, everyone does well with the songs and when it came to actually watching the choreographed dances on television, I think the most memorable (although Maria and the Captain's dance was... pretty) was “The Lonely Goatherd.” It was charismatic plus was a nice substitute to the ever-popular “puppet scene” from the film not to mention props to the cast for performing a difficult choreographed scene, in terms of their vocals. I was very impressed by the children also – none of them were familiar names or faces (largely this is due to the fact that for many of them, they’d not acted before), though that didn’t stop them from being professionally delightful in the production. Ariane Rinehart and Michael Campayno’s “big” number, “16 Going on 17” was fun. Despite this being a live production, I didn’t catch on to any major flubs on anyone’s part, which is kind of an extraordinary feat considering the understandable nerves in doing a live production. Some of the vocalists did seem winded a time or two, yet through it all, everyone made this 3-hour televised event a night to remember. 
 
There is heaps of criticism of NBC undertaking this and of the cast, however I have nothing of worth to complain about. This was a unique event and I for one came away a fan. Personally, I didn't expect it to reach the same level as the film (and really we should try to separate it from comparison) yet it’s something I’m going to rewatch more than once and will put its accompanying songs on repeat. Anyone who is loyal to the film will notice this production moves at a different pace (key scenes come earlier/later or relationships are formed swifter) and of course, some of the sets are limiting – the scope of each scene isn’t as “big” (particularly noticeable in “The Hills are Alive”); the live airing added a "realness" to the story that is missing from the film. With all that out in the open, The Sound of Music Live! was a jewel. It’s not something I’ll soon forget and cannot thank and props to the cast, crew and NBC powers that be for putting on this event; it’s a familiar story for a new generation to discover… and the result is family entertainment at its most excellent.

Now, it’s your turn, friends! I’d love to know what you thought – what were your favorite things…
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Rissi
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32 comments:

  1. Very interesting post! I think I may have to see if I can watch the performance somehow. I grew up watching The Sound of Music, I'm curious to see how NBC did with their version :)

    http://carolineedith.blogspot.com/

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    1. Thanks for reading and visiting, Caroline. :) I grew up watching the Julie Andrews Sound of Music also (and it's lovely), however this was based on the original stage play and live productions (no matter what they are) have always been "different" than film (the acting is usually more stilted and the staging seems "awkward" sometimes), so while there were some things that could have been improved about this staging, it was really quite entertaining and that's all I wanted of it. :)

      You will be able to see this on DVD come December 17th - hope you have a chance to see it.

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  2. Yay I'm glad you did a review of the show. I wasn't able to watch it, but maybe if it's available online sometime I can catch it. Glad you enjoyed it!

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    1. Thanks for dropping by, Melissa. :)

      My guess is, it will be online... somewhere! Usually at some point, everything winds up online. :)

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  3. This is yet another movie I missed when it came on last night.
    Since you said it was enjoyable, then I "ll have to watch it when it comes out online or on DVD.

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    1. Hope you enjoy, Ella - of course by the film standards, it isn't the same (but then, I would say that about any stage production), but all in all, it was lovely. Enjoy the DVD! :)

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    2. Cannot wait to get your impressions. :)

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  4. I'd never seen or heard Carrie Underwood before, but I have to say, when it comes down to it, she can't act. She always seemed happy and you couldn't read or feel any emotion on her face. Plus, in my opinion, her style of singing doesn't fit musicals AT ALL.

    All that aside, I though the rest of it was nice. I though all the kids did a superb job and were my favorite. I liked that Liesel actually looked 16 and the Baroness was the most talented--musical wise--of the cast.

    Anyways, those are a few thoughts off the top of my head. I'm hoping I'll have the time to write a review on my blog as well. We'll see. :)

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    1. ...I have to be honest, Carrie did fabulous with the singing from my perspective, however I know what you're saying about the acting, Sereina. I think she did a decent job and don't feel the same as those who think she "ruined" the production; I didn't go into this expecting her to be wonderful in her acting so that didn't disappoint.

      Aside from that, I am glad you liked the show! It was indeed nice - and you're right, those kids!? Aw, they were fabulous.

      Yay! I'll very much look forward to reading your review if you write it. :) As always, great of you to stop by.

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  5. I echo the same sentiment as Serenia in that Underwood's acting left much to be desired (other than the crying bits), but I thought the singing was good. Ariane knocked it out of the park... but I have to say that because she's a good friend of my sister ;D

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    1. Agreed; I thought the singing was fabulous also, Natalie! It made me fall in love with the story all over again plus it was nice to get a fresh introduction to the beloved songs, it's a soundtrack I'm going to love having and hitting "repeat" on my iPod. ;)

      Cool! That's fun that Ariane is a friend of your sister's - what a fun connection. :)

      Glad you stopped by and shared your impressions.

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  6. I was sick last night so I only saw bits and pieces but I liked what I saw too!

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    1. Sorry you aren't feeling well, Juju. :/ No fun. Feel better soon.

      Glad you enjoyed the bits and pieces you saw - hope you can see it in its entirety soon. :)

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  7. Thank you very much for posting your thoughts, Rissi :) As for mine, I have plans to post a review on my blog soon, which is a little intimidating considering I've never done a review of a play or movie on my blog before. But I'm very excited about it as the production provoked my thoughts :)

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    1. Hooray! I'll enjoy reading your thoughts, Hannah. Don't be intimidated - I'm sure you'll be great and as long as you have thoughts swirling around, I've no doubt they'll translate to the page. :)

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  8. Vocally, I think that Carried Underwood did a stellar job. The acting was pretty rough and Stephen Moyer as Captain Von Trapp...just no. He really liked the charisma to carry the performance even without comparing him to Christopher Plummer. If evaluated on its merits as a live broadway show, I think it was fair showing. So, no I didn't LOVE it, but my respect for Carried Underwood as a vocalist (especially in comparison to other young starlets of her generation) has quadrupled. I think I am just too emotionally attached to the Christmas tradition of watching the movie with the effervescent Julie Andrews to be completely objective.

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    1. *HIGH FIVE*

      I agree, Lydia - Carrie does have a stellar voice and I thought she had no trace of the country twang. That's a BIG thing and I'm glad she was able to adapt. With exception to maybe some of the kids, I felt like all of the acting was a bit... underwhelming. I did think there were some sweet moments when von Trapp was meant to have a loving moment with Maria, but beyond that, because it was a stage production, everything was "exaggerated" and the placements were always very noticeable (actors moving to their marks, etc.). Still... I have to be honest - I thoroughly enjoyed it! I think NBC and all involved deserve props for undertaking this. It was a lot of hard work, yet managed to be fun and that's awesome.

      I'm glad you enjoyed Carrie's vocal performance - she's been one of my favorite female artists (not to mention, she's one of the most talented) ever since her hit song, "Jesus, Take the Wheel" was made popular. :)

      The 60's movie is of course "perfect." I will always set it apart, but this version deserves kudos for being a wonderful experience. :)

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  9. I honestly thought it was okay...my overall opinion: Carrie Underwood cannot act for the life of her... you can just tell she's being insincere, or trying too hard!

    <3
    Lilly
    Wildflowersinbloom.com

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    1. Glad you didn't think it was awful, Lilly, and were maybe able to enjoy parts of it. :)

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  10. I had typed up a whole long comment to this, but for some reason it didn't publish...

    I really enjoyed the performance! While some people don't think Carrie Underwood's voice was suited to musical theater, I actually thought she did well. Carrie is one of my favorite singers, and I was pleasantly surprised that she adapted so well to a new style of music. I also loved each of the Von Trapp children! I do think the acting could have been better, but I didn't think it was horrible. I have to applaud the cast for the work they put into the production.

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    1. Bummer! I am so sorry your comment disappeared, Jillian; that's happened to me before also. :/

      Me, too! I was very impressed with Carrie's vocals; she sounded fabulous and in comparison to her albums, there was NO country twang here. She indeed did adapt and this performance made me an even bigger fan! (I cannot seem to get the songs out of my head since watching it last week.) The kids were adorable and wonderful and while yes, it's true some of the acting could have been better, nothing ruined the show for me and like you, the cast and crew deserve HUGE praise just for pulling this off. It was wonderful. :)

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  11. Lovely review, Rissi! I have not seen this yet, but I am looking forward to doing so! However I did listen to Carrie Underwood singing the opening song and I agree, her voice is amazing! As a side note, I like how balanced your reviews always are.

    Eowyn

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    1. Awesome; I hope you thoroughly enjoy the production once you are able to see it, Eowyn. It was quite delightful and like the Hallmark Channel movies, I love that this was perfect family entertainment. :)

      Carrie does have an amazing voice and she very beautifully adapted to this more "classical" style.

      Thanks for the kind words - I'm glad you commented, please visit anytime! :)

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  12. I enjoyed it! I'm a huge fan of stage performances. The family tries to make a couple a year. I've seen The Sound of Music on stage, it was ok. I enjoyed this presentation much more. The singing was good and the changes added to the story. Carrie did wonderful with her singing and the kids all had a great chemistry with her. She brought a fresh and chipperness about her.

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    1. As am I a fan of stage performance, Kate. Most have been local performances, however I did see Mamma Mia! once and also a performance of the musical version of Little Women in an outdoor theatre, that was an AWESOME experience.

      Glad to hear you liked this Live version of SOM better - that's cool. I saw a local theater put on Sound of Music way back when and don't remember it much, though I'm sure I loved it. Loved the singing in this, the story and the sweetness of the scenes - the kids were fun and Carrie did a lovely job with a very hard role. :)

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  13. Okay....my thoughts.....

    I loved it in its own way. Sure Carrie can't act that well....but that's okay. In many ways, Broadway actors can come across as stiff and wooden when they perform. So this isn't that different. And besides, the girl can SING! Doesn't that make up for everything?? And Audra MacDonald raised the ROOF on Climb Every Mountain

    My family was making snarky comments which made it tough to enjoy....until they bailed about 30 minutes through. Then, I was just to tune everything out and zone in. And I laughed. I cried. I clapped at my TV. (And I did ask for the acting to be better a few times) It was just clean, wholesome viewing...

    Oh. If you want to make people aware. Yes, it'll be out on DVD....but it is currently on NBC.com if people want to see it ;)

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    1. Great thoughts!

      In many ways, Broadway actors can come across as stiff and wooden when they perform. So this isn't that different.

      *HIGH FIVE*

      See... I knew I liked you, Ella! ;) That's what I've been saying; Broadway performing IS different and it doesn't make it "bad," but there is definitely a noticeable "awkwardness" or something in their acting because there are "marks" they have to move to, etc. and that seems to "exaggerate" everything plus there are no re-takes in live performance. In my opinion, yes the vocal performances make up for everything - Carrie sounded phenomenal (kudos to her for losing that country sound), Audra did a great job (loved her "big" number) and of course, the kids were cute.

      Aw, not fun. You're family didn't like it!? Mom and I watched it and when we were through, she said, "that was delightful." Both of us really enjoyed it though I suspect if ever I'd loan it to my aunt, she'd not take to this live production. (Her loss, I say. :D) The fact that this was good, clean, wholesome entertainment made it more attractive to me and I'm very impressed that NBC dared to put this on. Well done to them.

      Thanks! After we'd had all of our discussion here, I saw it on NBC. That's awesome - glad they shared it on-line too. I figured it would show up sometime. :)

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  14. I didn't watch the whole thing... we forgot it was coming on, and so I saw a little bit when Maria comes back, and the acting felt terribly stiff to me. Then we tried to watch it on our DVR "playback" feature, or whatever it is, but we couldn't fast-forward through the commercials (annoying) and Carrie Underwood's acting and vocal style were actually mildly painful for me to watch. I was quite irked that they sang "My Favorite Things" in the abbey (TWICE) and then didn't sing in during the thunderstorm. The kids were much better than I was expecting them to be, but Carrie Underwood ruined it for me and we turned it off after that. I imagine I'll watch the whole thing eventually, but not until I can do it without commercials. I guess I like classically trained vocalists in my musicals too much, Carrie didn't sound like a country singer much, but she did have some awful harsh, American-sounding vowels. And Sarah pointed out that it sounded like she was belting rather than getting into her head voice and letting it just soar... that's the kind of singing I love. She did the two notes at the end of "Do-Re-Mi" fabulously, but everything else she sang just grated on my ears.

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    1. Aw, I'm so sorry it was ruined for you, Lizzie. A lot of people feel that way and while I understand the acting aspect (I actually think the entire cast was more "wooden" then not because well, stage production does come across that way), I was swept up in this story... and well, I just LOVED it. :) I was impressed that Carrie altered her vocals so well and the songs turned out beautifully (I cannot get the songs out of my head since seeing this, LOL!). The kids *were* great; loved each of them in their roles.

      The songs were "out of order" of how we know them because this was based on the original Broadway show, which is why there were some unfamiliar moments or new songs - it does take a moment to adjust to hearing new songs.

      If you are interested in watching it in its entirety, I'm pretty sure it's up on NBC.com.

      Glad you stopped by with your thoughts. Always love your impressions. :)

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    2. I disagree that stage productions necessarily must come across wooden, I've spent many years with many theatre directors that drilled us on techniques for not being wooden, and I've seen Phantom of the Opera, Wicked! and The Lion King performed by Broadway on Tour casts, and there's nothing wooden about their acting! If anything, good stage actors tend to over-dramatize so that their performance reaches the last row of the auditorium. I can't even count how many times I heard one of my theatre directors say that. Of course, over-dramatizing does NOT go across well in film, so filming a "stage" production is bound to create some issues for stage actors, but I'm afraid Carrie in particular got stuck somewhere in the middle with the worst of both worlds combined. I don't think she has much real acting experience, so that probably didn't help.

      Also, I have seen The Sound of Music on stage (it was at a small city theatre, though, so I have no idea if it was the Broadway version or some other adaptation) but "My Favorite Things" was still in the familiar place for that stage show, if I'm remembering correctly. I do remember that there were extra ones, but I don't remember songs being mixed around.

      I'll check that out! As long as it's without commercials, I would like to see the whole thing. In spite of how negative I sound! ;)

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    3. Thanks for your thoughts about stage acting, Lizzie. Glad you've had good directors who have taught good technique - that is important in acting, especially live productions. There are no do-overs there! :)

      ...and yes, you are right, Carrie doesn't have much acting experience.

      I don't know if the original Broadway version had a different progression of songs or it was the film that moved it around, however it didn't bother me to have "My Favorite Things" earlier because honestly I thought the thunderstorm scene was adorable - it was a cute nod to the "puppet" scene in the film. :)

      Overall, I HAVE to give props to NBC and the crew/cast for pulling this off. It was lovely, wholesome entertainment and I admire them for putting it on despite the criticism. I don't know if the NBC.com video is without commercials or not, however if you see it, I hope it is without commercials. Guess you'd just have to check in and see. Otherwise, maybe the library would get the DVD release (which is out in a week or so).

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