Friday, December 06, 2013

The Sound of Music (TV Review)

Kudos to Craig Zadan and Neil Meron for producing a live TV version of The Sound of Music. There's something incomparably sparkling, vivid, and delightful about live performances.

In the actual event, however, this Sound of Music was notably sparkle-free, absent, and kind of dreary.

Carrie Underwood was in over her head much of the time. She spoke every line in the same monotone, whether talking about God, love, lightning, or Nazis. Her comic timing was nonexistent; potentially funny moments just slipped by, totally wasted. Her singing was fine, but far from thrilling. As the evening wore on, she did occasionally show a spark of personality or actual acting. She may have some potential, but probably not more than your above-average high-school Maria. (And are we really supposed to believe that someone would choose this Maria over Laura Benanti's Elsa?) It seems likely, however, that Underwood's fame was one of the reasons that this production was green-lighted, so good for her for trying.

The acting in general was not impressive. Stephen Moyer was beyond wooden as the Captain, Christian Borle pushed too much as Max, and Laura Benanti, while lovely as always, never quite inhabited her character.

Audra MacDonald was in gorgeous voice as the Reverend Mother (though I didn't love her acting), and it was fun to see Jessica Molasky and Christiane Noll as two other nuns. (Is it rude to point out that any of them would have been a million times better than Carrie Underwood as Maria, even though decades too old for the role?) The kids were reasonably good but not distinctive, and Michael Campayno as Rolf came across as a 27-going-on-28 child molester.

I enjoyed the music; I enjoyed that the singing was live; I enjoyed the use of multiple stages so that they could open a door and walk into a totally new location. I enjoyed that this production existed, so I watched the whole damned thing.

I watch little commercial television, so I rarely have to deal with commercials, for which I am quite grateful. The commercial breaks were annoying and frequent, eliminating any chance the show had of gaining momentum and audience involvement. And the incessant hawking of the sing-along CD was downright funny, since it was a reminder that while the singing was live, the music wasn't. They should have been honest and said, "Sing along to the same exact track used by Carrie Underwood!"


Colleen of' the Woods said...

Although I'm in a TV-free home in the Oregon woods, I heard it was dreadful. I thoroughly enjoyed this review, which articulated nuances beyond the earlier report: It sucked. Thanks for the insights and the LMAO comments.

msdworks said...

While I did not see the TV live show, I've been reading about it and people's opinions seem to be running pretty hot about how really bad it was.

I like level-headed reasons you hit upon as why it was a not very good production without having to kill the personalities.

Wendy Caster said...

Thanks for the comments!

The producers were possibly right in choosing Underwood in one way: the show got a huge audience.

How big would the audience have been without her? I guess we'll never know.