sound-of-musicTHE SOUND OF MUSIC

Live Music Theater on Television

Okay, so I let the first NBC showing of The Sound of Music with Carrie Underwood go. I figured, she’s a good singer, she’ll be good, not great. She’s pretty much just a ratings draw, anyway.

Then after reading some of the reviews and seeing how well it did—and that they were going to show it again—I decided to DVR it, which, really, is what I should have done in the first place, when it was performed live.

After all, whether or not Carrie Underwood is any good, let alone as good as the movie’s Julie Andrews or Broadway’s Mary Martin, isn’t the point. The point is, a major network is taking the risk of bringing live theater, live music theater, back to television. Good or bad, it deserves my, indeed our, support.

Peter-Pan-Mary-MartinSo, okay, I saw it, and it really was very good, I thought, and yes, Underwood is the weak link. Not horrible by any stretch. For sure, she has a big enough voice, as proven with her TV contest win and recording career so far. But as a musical theater actress, she lacks the presence of her predecessors—who were steeped in it—not to mention five-time Tony-winner Audra McDonald.

Still, Underwood was more than winning enough as Maria to carry The Sound of Music to a new TV generation, and maybe, hopefully, a new generation of Rodgers & Hammerstein fans, and beyond. At least the first showing of the new Sound of Music was not only unexpectedly strong enough to merit a second one, but to encourage the network to order up a second live musical for next year’s holiday season—this, instead of, say, another generic music awards show.

And while I won’t suggest casting, I’d love to see them decide on a remake of Peter Pan, knowing full well that whomever they choose can’t possibly live up to Mary Martin’s classic 1960 live NBC-TV performance, which, incidentally, is available in full on YouTube.

Good enough, really, is more than good enough, all things considered.

Jim Bessman


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