It simply cannot be denied that The Sound of Music is an absolute classic and one that many have grown up with. It’s been performed all over the world and has a special place in the hearts of many. For quite a few years now, the idea of putting on a musical live on television has become increasingly popular, particularly in the US and back in 2013, The Sound of Music was broadcast live starring Carrie Underwood as Maria, alongside Broadway favourites Christian Borle, Laura Benanti and Audra McDonald. Over the weekend, the show was broadcast online as part of ‘The Show Must Go On’ scheme.
I could not possibly count how many times I have seen The Sound of Music, and I know it inside out and back to front, meaning that I instantly noticed some rather major changes with this televised production. Some of the songs are in a completely different order. Gone is ‘I have confidence’, replaced instead by Maria and The Mother Abyss (McDonald) singing ‘My Favourite Things’. As this song is normally song by Maria and the children when they are frightened by a thunderstorm, ‘The Lonely Goatherd’ is sung here instead. I know that the songs are sometimes changed for the stage show, but growing up with the film means I just found it all a bit confusing.
Whilst there is no doubt that Carrie Underwood is very talented and has great vocals, for me, her voice just didn’t particularly suit the role of Maria. She acts it well and her chemistry with the children is believable, but the growing relationship between Maria and Captain Von Trapp (Stephen Moyer) feels a little bit forced in places and doesn’t come across as all that convincing in my opinion. Stephan Moyer plays a good Captain, and brings a good level of emotion to the role, especially in the moment where he first hears his children singing together and his final performance of ‘Edelweiss’
Christian Borle is probably the highlight of this production as Max Detweiler, a fun character with a spring in his step. Alongside Benanti as Elsa Schrader, they are a great pair and good fun to watch together. Benanti’s vocals are effortless and I wish that we had gotten to hear more of them, and I take help but think that she may have been better suited to the role of Maria. Audra McDonald is a Broadway Legend, and I normally love her vocals, but I have to be honest here. In the role of Mother Abyss, I think that it was a case of just because you can, doesn’t mean you should. I found her performance a little bit too loud in places and her rendition of ‘Climb Every Mountain’ felt over the top. In my opinion, it didn’t need to be belted like that with all of those high notes. I know the song normally has those notes, it just felt that it had been pushed to the extreme.
With The Sound of Music, I always think that the children deserve more credit as they have so much to remember and are often used to hold the story together. Ariane Rinehart, Sophia Anne Caruso, Peyton Ella, Michael Nigro, Grace Rundhaug, Ella Watts-Gorman and Joe West play the roles of Liesl, Brigitta, Gretl, Fredrich, Marta, Louisa and Kurt respectively and they all do very well. That being said I did feel that the relationship between Liesl and Rolf felt a little wooden.
Overall, something about this televised production just fell a little flat. It didn’t have that energy that we have seen in other televised musicals such as Grease Live, or the UK Version of The Sound of Music Live. It was all rather plain, and forgettable, which is a real shame considering how famous and how loved the show is, and I think live televised musicals have come a long way since this one.