Year Released: 2013
MPAA Rating: Unrated
Running Time: 132 minutes
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The decision by NBC to broadcast a new live production of “The Sound in Music” in primetime last month was deserving of praise. In view of the increasingly puerile and violent programming that has submerged network television, the idea of putting aside an entire evening for a family-friendly offering of a theatrical classic was bold and daring.
Sadly, good intentions do not automatically translate into good productions, and NBC’s notion of “The Sound of Music” offers a cruel lesson of how a fatally miscast star can sink a show. In this case, Nashville icon Carrie Underwood was simply the wrong person to insert into the coveted role of Maria Von Trapp. Even without the legacies of Mary Martin and Julie Andrews looming in the popular imagination, the part of Maria calls for a singing actress who has the charisma to balance Broadway-style music, light comedy and airy melodrama – as well as a bit of Swiss-style yodeling for “The Lonely Goatherd” number.
As an actress, Underwood steamrolls through “The Sound of Music” with a constant look of wide-eyed bewilderment – an expression that would be perfect for playing Janet in a “Rocky Horror” remake, but inappropriate here. As a singer, she misses the sincerity and subtle playfulness of the Rodgers and Hammerstein score, to the point that her singing could be mistaken as a graceless phonetic presentation. As for the yodeling in “The Lonely Goatherd,” I wouldn’t be surprised if the goats turned the channel to watch “Two Broke Girls” reruns instead.
Sadly, the rest of the production cannot overcome the resonance of Underwood’s disastrous central presence. Stephen Moyer’s Captain Von Trapp is too mild of a presence – and his singing is too weak – to add any sense of balance to the show’s romantic thread. Audra McDonald brings some much needed warmth and class to the proceedings with her rendition of “Climb Ev’ry Mountain,” but it is hard not to overlook that she is at least 25 years too young to play the aged Mother Superior. And the kids playing the Von Trapp offspring are typical Broadway tykes – a little too mechanically cute to be mistaken for the genuine article.
This DVD offering comes without the commercial interruptions that appeared during the original broadcast. This is too bad, because they were the most entertaining aspect of the evening’s presentation.
Posted on January 7, 2014 in Reviews by Phil Hall
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