TV Review: ‘The Sound of Music Live!’

The Sound of Music Live! review

A noble effort, NBC's telecast can't scale the mountain of making a live musical really sing

It’s a long way back to Mary Martin as Peter Pan, but the notion of a live TV musical — with all the inherent risk that entails — still contains more than a little magic. So give NBC credit for tackling the challenge, in trump-the-DVR-age fashion, with “The Sound of Music Live!,” even if the actual production too often felt as lifeless as those alpine backdrops. Part of that has to do with mounting a stage production on TV — even with the benefit of swooping camera angles — and part the casting, with Carrie Underwood handling the vocal chores more ably than the acting.

Produced by Craig Zadan and Neil Meron — who have done their all to prove musicals can thrive on screen, from “Chicago” to (less successfully) NBC’s “Smash” — the production was certainly handsome and polished, although in a sense, that worked against the live element. Sure, you might have seen a stray body through a window, but any sense of jeopardy dissipated rather quickly, leaving behind a new version of “The Sound of Music,” without the benefit of Julie Andrews or the original’s sweeping vistas.

Directors Beth McCarthy-Miller and Rob Ashford certainly managed to get the most mileage and depth out of the elaborate sets, escaping any sense of claustrophobia. But for the most part they couldn’t make the story sing between the musical numbers, and the tingle one can get from a live theatrical experience didn’t materialize as filtered through the remove of TV.

That’s not to say this “Sound of Music” was without its pleasures, from “Sixteen Going on Seventeen” (as performed by Ariane Rinehart and Michael Campayno) to Audra McDonald — a truly superior Mother Abbess — belting out “Climb Every Mountain.” Laura Benanti also made the most of the relatively thankless role of Frau Schraeder, the ill-fated would-be bride of Captain Von Trapp (Stephen Moyer).

Still, the Maria-Von Trapp relationship has its problematic aspects under the best of circumstances, and Underwood and Moyer didn’t come close to threading that needle. Given the absence of chemistry, one could be forgiven for hoping he’d lapse into “True Blood” mode and simply bite her neck.

Understandably, some of the commercial breaks were awkward, and the Walmart sponsorship became slightly obnoxious — at least, for anyone not savvy enough to simply DVR the whole thing and reduce the time commitment by close to an hour.

From a wider and perhaps more generous perspective, it’s hard not to root for this earnest adaptation to enjoy a measure of success, if only to encourage networks to continue to brave such events. (One thought: To avoid the taint of snarky tweets from the East working their way toward the Pacific timezone, it might be wise to consider airing some future efforts live simultaneously.)

That macro view, however, can’t fully obscure the micro one. And in terms of feeling like this production genuinely delivered, that’s one mountain “The Sound of Music Live!” just couldn’t climb.

TV Review: 'The Sound of Music Live!'

(Live event; NBC, Thur. Dec. 5, 8 p.m.)


Produced by Storyline Entertainment in association with Sony Pictures Television and Universal Television.


Executive producers, Neil Meron, Craig Zadan; producer, Priscilla Taussig; directors, Beth McCarthy-Miller, Rob Ashford; music/lyrics, Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein; book by Howard Lindsay and Russel Crouse; adapted for television by Austin Winsberg; production designer, Derek McLane; music director, David Chase. 3 HOURS


Carrie Underwood, Stephen Moyer, Audra McDonald, Laura Benanti, Christian Borle, Ariane Rinehart, Michael Nigro, Ella Watts-Gorman, Joe West, Sophia Caruso, Grace Rundhaug, Peyton Ella

Filed Under:

Want to read more articles like this one? SUBSCRIBE TO VARIETY TODAY.
Post A Comment 402

Leave a Reply


Comments are moderated. They may be edited for clarity and reprinting in whole or in part in Variety publications.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

  1. Larry Tucker says:

    I find it troubling that of all of the reviews I have read, all seem to try to compare this performance to that of the truly great Julie Andrews performance in the movie. Was she compared to Mary Martin, who created the role on Broadway? I am in the classical music field. I am glad that we can perform a work composed 150-200 years ago and we are still finding something new to interpret.
    First, congratulations to NBC for providing a wonderful concept that families could share together. Once cannot say that about most television today.
    Second, congratulations to Carrie Underwood for daring to step out of her comfort zone, and daring to do something risky. Bravo. That is what true art is, and what being an artist is.
    In the criticisms I have read, i have consistently seen how the characters loosened up as the show went along. Isn’t that how the show would normally have progressed, as the characters developed?
    I applaud the effort and hope that NBC will continue to think out of the box. It;s what we need.

    • Judy says:

      I agree with you Larry….people need to stop the comparison between Carrie and Julie and take it for what it is. Carrie is not an actress and I think that she didn’t get enough coaching from the directors or she would have known to emote more, take a little more risk. She has a gorgeous voice which is what we wanted to hear. And doing it live in front of 12 cameras??? yikes. Could any of you do that?

  2. Kim G says:

    Overall, truly enjoyed! Congrats to all!

  3. Mark Isenberg says:

    I am glad a lot of folks who never get to Broadway got to see this version on NBC. No,it was far from perfect but if you set aside the forever movie version,it was an entertaining evening till the too perfect Walmart Family Christmas ads appeared. Well,they paid for the venture so I guess I need a DVR.Still,we need to encourage networks and awful cable ones like Bravo,Ovation etc. to try some musicals perhaps in smaller forms. Godspell might work.Oh and don’t forget Sondheim will be on HBO at 9pm Dec.9. NBC gave us awful Smash and the same producers of it did this version. They should be banned from television but again,we need better musicals on tv and forget about the LIVE unique stuff. Save that for the usually awful award shows.

  4. Joyce says:

    My family loved the Sound of Music. We thought Carrie Underwood was wonderful. Cannot understand the bad reviews. Carrie it is always a pleasure to hear and watch you. As for the rest of the cast, I thought they were good. Sometimes the critics get carried away with their comments and can really hurt the production. Cannot wait to watch it again.

    • Bruce Gephart says:

      Absolutely agree with you, Joyce. This was a live TV presentation, NOT a Broadway production. I didn’t want over-the-top performances from the actors like I see on Broadway!
      I wanted intimate, realistic, believable performances, and that’s what I got from the whole cast. Carrie’s understated acting was PERFECT for a young country woman who found herself in the extremely difficult position of trying to decide whether her place in life was in the abbey (where she really didn’t “fit”!) or to live life “on the outside” in a family setting (her wonderful relationship with the 7 children made her a natural fit for the second option; it just took her awhile to realize that).

      A lot of you self-appointed critics need to consider what I have just said. Meanwhile, my wife and I will continue to enjoy watching the delightful “present” we were surprised to receive last Thursday evening. After watching it 3 times so far, we are liking it more each time!

  5. Melinda J. Harrington says:

    We loved it – and imagine – 3 hours of live theater for FREE for our entire family – and not one cuss word – imagine that – it can be done!!! Thank you NBC – keep it coming!!!

  6. bertrand samson says:

    The dancing scene sound orchestra to low

  7. To begin with it was rather audacious to do a remake of this to begin with. Casting Carrie Underwood in the role of Maria was totally confusing. This is an acting and singing role. She can not act (not her fault as thats not what she is known for) and why would anyone think that her singing voice would be the
    right fit for this venue???? Which makes me ask the simple question with regards to the casting directors and production team, What were you thinking????? Audra McDonald was as always perfect but not enough of her to save this production. I can not understand with all the vocal talent there is
    available why was the casting such a mismatch. Stay tuned as NBC remakes Casablanca with Kim Kardashian and Kanye West in the roles of Rick and Ilsa.

  8. Deborah says:

    I so wanted to enjoy this production. Audra McDonald was the best hook to get me rooted in my seat , but not enough to keep me there.. I agree, the show never made the mountain climb. Carrie Underwood an awesome entertainer was out of her element to bring the character of Maria as we have come to love. The wide eye innocence was not in her voice, so it was hard to connect , for me, her to Maria. I can’t believe their was not one soprano ingenue to be found in this country!

  9. madm says:

    Carrie couldnt act or hit the high notes like a broadway singer. broadway singers are trained diffrent cause they dont rely on the music to carry their fault of carrie she jusy needs to stick to country and pop.

  10. Isaac says:

    Arturo Toscanini is “turning over” in his grave.

    • DeeDee says:

      What does Toscanini have to do with any of this? Each new production deserves to be able to apply new personal expression to the art. Did Bernstein conduct exactly as Toscanini did, or as Beethoven did for that matter? When did art become a factory production?

  11. kaitlynn says:

    When Maria and the captain came back from their honeymoon the wedding ring is on the right hand instead of the left hand, i love carrie’s hair before she married the captain. If they make it into a movie it would be better. My favorite Von Trapp children is Lesle

    • Marc Stevens says:

      Europeans often wear their wedding ring on the right hand.

      But I agree with others, that this production seemed sadly lifeless at times.

      I understand the “need” for star power, but this production made the mistake of choosing big names over true talent (as did the big screen version of Les Miserables – why couldn’t they have just made the film using the 25th anniversary cast?!?!).

      It would seem that Julie Andrews et al are safe in the hearts of the world. Thankfully. It’s hard to improve on perfection.

  12. diane ortega says:

    The problem that people are having with the performance is the lack of chemistry? And who is responsible for that? The Director!!! It’s the director that directs the actors… and think about it – TV is a visual medium, It looked drab on their 50″ HD TV. If the viewers Had tuned into brightly colored interesting
    sets, costumes maybe it wouldn’t have appeared as mediocre. Bravo to the cast, and shame on NBC for not managing the overall production.

  13. Billy says:

    Yeah …it was a little corny but alot better then the sex and fighting that appears nighty on all the networks…Bravo NBC Keep up the good work

  14. jones says:

    Keep it up NBC !!! Good job …

  15. Jen says:

    Loved it. Most shows on TV are full of mindless, mind numbing filth… I got to sit and enjoy something with my 12 year old daughter (she loved it as well) that I used to watch with my grandmother. This had never been done before and it was all too predictable that most would tear it apart. Carrie can indeed sing and the lady who sang “climb every mountain” brought me to tears. It’s a shame that people are ripping it up.

  16. mona maog says:

    my family enjoyed the show. we recorded it and watched a recorded version friday night….
    and we’ll be humming this weekend ,to the show’s soundtrack.
    enough of reality shows pls!
    thank you NBC!!!

  17. Jerry costello says:

    My family enjoyed the show and thought the cast became more relaxed as show went on. It was a pleasant break from police drama and sex based comedies. We hope the large audience overcomes the inevitable critic’s negative review. Thank you NBC!

  18. Susan Sherwood says:

    Sweet and so entertaining -great job by entire cast -I’m a huge Carrie underwood fan and she didn’t let me down -thanks for all the hard work to entertain us in the comfort of our own homes.

  19. buddharon says:

    Responding to Charles Grippo:
    You are right on all points. It is amazing how much film media changed the original show. It us much easier to see the movie rather than go see the stage production. Unfortunately, the movie sequences have over the years become entrenched to many as the real portrayal when in fact it was not. As I mentioned very early in this blog, this was a live 3 hr telecast, no intermission, just 3 minute commercials. Except for SNL and telethons (and maybe game shows), we have not seen live tv productions since the 1950’s such as the old Kraft Mystery Playhouse, etc… I was entertained by all. Those who did have stage experienced added value to the show. I give Carrie much credit for taking on a venue that she had never done.

  20. The web is filled today with snarkiness regarding Ms. Underwood’s acting and while fair, it is ultimately too easy to say. The real flaw in this production is with the producers who put her in the position to fail. Just as with a corporate executive or a sports coach the role of boss is to give your employee the chance to succeed and the producers of NBC’s “The Sound of Music” failed Ms. Underwood and harmed what could be a great franchise for this network. The production was otherwise fine and one hopes that for their next live musical NBC chooses an actor who can sing.And to all those who jumped on Ms. Underwood because she is not a good actor I’d suggest that your glee in reporting this obvious truth speaks more about the critic than the critiqued.

    • Clara says:

      Totally agree. NBC is making a TON of money on this. They started the promos and sales of items, including a CD even before the show premiered. It never mattered how well Carrie or any of the performers did; the money was in the bag. It’s “The Sound of Music” aka, “The Sound of Money” folks! Carrie was set up to fail and that stinks. NBC’s getting money and raves and she’s getting ripped! How nice it would’ve been to use some unknown, but Broadway trained young woman. This could’ve been someone’s big break. After all, Julie Andrews who I adore, was NOT “THE” Julie Andrews until AFTER she did the movie. And before “Mary Poppins” and “Sound” she was a virtual unknown West of Broadway! Remember, Julie was NOT offered the lead in the movie of “My Fair Lady”

  21. SEAN says:

    Dude your review sucked. This was a fabulous live adaption made for TV. The highest rated TV event in NBC in the past decade should prove it.

    • annie100 says:

      Just because a lot of people gave it a chance and watched it, doesn’t mean that it was good. I would say that the directors were blind. The actors don’t always realize how they are coming across and the directors should have noticed that the acting could have been done better. Stephen Moyer (Captain von Trapp) was great. A few of the other actors did a good job, but overall, it was a lousy job. The production lacked the spirit that was done very well in the original with Julie Andrews. Perhaps the actors were afraid of overacting and not looking authentic, but the directors should have provided better direction.

  22. Patrick says:

    I think its pretty clear alot of people really appreciated that Carrie Underwood was willing to take some pretty serious chances to branch out to do new things. She has such potential, some people just can’t deal with it! She did great and I really appreciated her work on this effort. I loved the idea of a live show in this era when everything is so contrived and scripted. NBC deservess all the credit, thank you very much. The hell with the clueless pin-head critics with their noses in the air. NBC…please do more live shows like this!

    • Bruce Gephart says:

      Hooray for you, Patrick! I am SO sick of the majority of posts on this site that I can’t read more than 15 of them at any one sitting without getting angry and depressed. The Wednesday evening live presentation was EXCELLENT, and I enjoyed it immensely, and I am prepared to tell you why, IF you choose to read on. (I apologize ahead of time for the length of this post, but I must vent about some things. So you can either choose to read the following, or just stop reading at this point and go watch your Amazing Race, The Bachelorette, or Dancing With The Stars episode which might be on at this time. I won’t be joining you, so I will not be offended if you choose not to join me….).

      Now, to address some of you clueless critics, pseudo-intellectual snobs, and miserable souls who could not appreciate watching something really worthwhile on TV No wonder that the airwaves are filled with so many boring and mindless “comedy”, drama, or “thrilling” (huh?) reality shows.

      Think with me for a little while about your favorite REALITY SHOW(S). You know, the ones where rank amateurs compete in music, variety, athletic competitions, stupid challenges, etc.—- for which they were not trained and have few skills or experience. WHY NOT CHOOSE TO WATCH ONLY SKILLED, TRAINED, EXPERIENCED PROFESSIONALS COMPETING AGAINST EACH OTHER IN EVERY ONE OF THESE VENUES?????

      If you have not yet noticed the irony that last paragraph, let me spell it out for you. Why do so many of you waste your time watching things where people display very few skills, training ,and experience,and where the “winners” fall WAY short of perfection? And you (vicariously?) rejoice in their so-called victories and walk away feeling very entertained and satisfied………..YET YOU HAVE THE NERVE TO COME ON THIS SITE AND CRITICIZE AN EXCELLENT PRODUCTION LIKE “THE SOUND OF MUSIC LIVE”????!!!!!

      I found the refreshingly-understated acting (ESPECIALLY the marvelous job done by Ms.. UNDERWOOD) to be the BEST version of this well-known and well-loved story which I have ever seen!!!

      Yes, I already hear some of you scoffing at my last statement, so let me clarify a couple of things at this point. I ABSOLUTELY IDOLIZED JULIE ANDREWS in the 1965 film—and I still do love her and the marvelous musical voice I remember (which some disgustingly-botched throat surgery robbed us of years ago. Grrrr…..). My wife and I named our first daughter after her just a few years after seeing her perform in 1965 in what is STILL one of our all-time favorite movies. (Btw, as much as we love her, her acting skills hardly rank very highly in the annals of that profession!)
      I have also seen Mary Martin and the cast of the very good, earlier, “original” Broadway version of TSOM—the latter being the basis for this week’s new LIVE performance. (I point that out for those of you numbskulls who keep complaining about how this week’s live version changed some of the things which were in the wonderful 1965 movie. Ahhh, it was the 1965 movie which changed some things which were in the original stage version! (So do a little study before you pretend to be informed critics regarding any of these 3 TSOM performances!!!!!!!)

      So why did/do I like this week’s live version the best (well, even my dear wife says that I am not yet senile, so that cannot explain my decision)? Well, after watching—and enjoying— it again tonight, I think I can give you an answer. The version with Carrie Underwood ENGROSSED ME IN THE CHARACTERS and the STORY like neither of the previous two versions did! I sat down to watch the Wednesday live performance with all expectation of noting all of the FLAWS (which so many of the rest of you apparently never got past, and you continued to FOCUS upon during the whole 3-hour presentation!). Imagine my shock when I found myself caught up very early with the unpretentious beauty of the live performance. No one shocked me more than Carrie did. I have never been a great fan of her music, and she is very pretty, but looks a LOT better to me in TSOM with minimal make-up. (Hint, here, Carrie…).

      But both HER SINGING and HER ACTING in this production impressed me tremendously! I hope she doesn’t read many of the negative, and, what I consider, very unfair criticisms of her work in this production. SHE WAS ABSOLUTELY A VERY LOVELY (which unfortunately was not true of the actual, real-life Maria) AND VERY BELIEVABLE, POSITIVE, LIFE-LOVING, YET INEXPERIENCED-IN-THE-WAYS-OF-LIFE young woman named MARIA—both inside and outside the Abbey. And Underwood wonderfully-understating acting positively “nailed that” portrayal, in my opinion. So MY KUDOS ENTUSIASTICALLY GO OUT TO Ms. UNDERWOOD!!!!

      Primarily, it was SHE who kept me from looking for any acting flaws (which were truly very minimal, as far as I am concerned); and that led me to sit back and enjoy a wonderfully, heartwarming performance (which I enjoyed just as much Thursday evening as I did Wednesday evening!!!)

      So, sorry for all of you who missed the joy and pleasure which I found this week. Go ahead and vent at my comments here. I will happily go on with my life, a more satisfied TV-viewer than I have been in ages!!!!!

      • To Mr. Gephart–No need to apologize for the length of your post. I agree with every point you make! Yes, I saw Mary Martin’s Maria on Broadway and Julie Andrews’ Maria in the classic movie. I loved both, but to my great surprise, NBC’s streamlined 2-hour version (not counting the hour of intrusive but necessary commercials) improved on both previous incarnations of “The Sound of Music”. I had never before seen Carrie Underwood. To me, she was triumphant, both vocally and histrionically, and deeply touching in her understated portrayal of Maria. The children were exemplary with not one cutesy camera-hog among them. Stephen Moyer (also new to me) brought a new poignancy to my favorite song, “Edelweiss”. And the superb Audra McDonald’s “Climb Every Mountain” is the definitive rendition of that showstopper. In short, kudos to NBC and to Mr. Gephart’s eloquently-worded appreciation of the television event (on either network or cable) of the year.

  23. Audra McDonald as an Mother Abbess in 1930’s Austria! Maybe they’ll do a remake of Roots with Josh Groban as a slave or Jamie Foxx as a plantation owner. Why not?

  24. To all of you complaining about the “order of songs,” “extra songs,” “Mother Abbess singing My Favorite Things,” etc. Here’s a news bulletin for you. Last night’s SOUND OF MUSIC was the original Broadway version, not the film version. It was actually the film version which changed the order of songs and (to some extent) the plot.

    NO WAY TO STOP IT and HOW CAN LOVE SURVIVE were from the Broadway production and were dropped altogether from the movie — although the melody from HOW CAN LOVE SURVIVE is played as an instrumental during the party scene just before the LANDLER.

    And all of the songs last night were presented in the same order and sung by the same characters as in the Broadway production. For instance the Mother Abbess and Maria sing MY FAVORITE THINGS in the stage production at the abbey, just before the Abbess tells her she is to become governess of the Von Trapp children — i.e. just the way it was done last night. It is not sung by Maria and the children during the thunderstorm. Maria and the kids sing “THE LONELY GOATHERD” during the thunderstorm, not during a puppet show. (There is no puppet show in the stage version.)

    In the Broadway script Rolf does NOT betray them as in the film. That moment shows that, despite his loyalty to the Nazis, he has enough feelings left for Liesl that he cannot turn her and her family in, which adds complexity to his character..

    I HAVE CONFIDENCE was written for the film – both music and lyrics by Richard Rodgers, since Hammerstein passed away nine months after SOUND OF MUSIC opened on Broadway and several years before the film went into production.
    SOMETHING GOOD was also written for the film (again music and lyrics by Rodgers) and was not in the stage production. Instead, on Broadway, Maria and the Captain sang AN ORDINARY COUPLE, a song neither Rodgers & Hammerstein nor Mary Martin ever thought made sense for the characters, so it was replaced by SOMETHING GOOD. Since the film, most productions (including last night) have replaced AN ORDINARY COUPLE with SOMETHING GOOD. (You can hear AN ORDINARY COUPLE on the original cast album sung by Mary Martin and Theodore Bikel.)

    “Hitler” is never mentioned by name in the script for the stage production. It’s sufficient to say “Heil” because we all know whom they are heiling.

    Far from watering down the Nazis, this production brought out the darkness that constitutes much of the text of the second act and which is often missed in other productions. For example, last night, when the Von Trapps disappear from the concert hall, the Nazis immediately arrest Max – presuming, correctly, that he has helped them to escape. That does not occur in the film version . And we don’t need to be told or shown that, for helping the Von Trapps, Max will probably either be shot or end up in a concentration camp. We know from history that was the likely fate of anyone bucking the Nazis. This event depicts Max’s personal redemption from his philosophy in NO WAY TO STOP IT.

    Of course the sets last night did not contain the sweeping vistas of the movie — it was done on a soundstage, not filmed on location in Austria as the movie was.

    Frankly I thought they did a damn good job with it, bringing out much of the depth and complexity that are all there in the stage show, but which are often missed by other productions. Yes, there were a few glitches — at one point I noticed a crew member outside the Von Trapp villa. But it was an ambitious undertaking and I applaud NBC for doing it. I certainly hope it paves the way for more such shows.

    Quite honestly, I never paid much attention to Carrie Underwood before. In fact, when her casting was announced, I had to Google her to find out who she was. But she did a lovely job with the songs and, while she needs training, she has the capabilities to grow into a fine musical comedy actress.

    From reading these comments, it seems many of you are familiar only with the movie and therefore expected to see it reproduced. NBC and the producers made it clear all along they were presenting
    the stage version, and that is exactly what they did.

    One last note: before any of you question my comparison of last night’s production with the stage version —- I have both the script and the full music score for the Broadway production, so my comments come directly from the texts of both. .

  25. The first thing I noticed was the lack of warmth in Carrie’s voice. This is a very emotional story and calls for a warm, rich voice that embraces the listener. Then there are the eyes that seemed to dart around, perhaps looking for the next step or teleprompter–anything but the introspective reflection that the role requires. I was also put off by the lack of consideration for those of us who actually know the history of the area and know that, under no circumstances, would a black woman be in charge of an abbey at that time in Austria’s history and felt like another Hollywood poke in the eye of Tradition, just because they could. Rich, lovely voice: wrong venue.

    Music overplayed the singers. Really annoying.

    For me it was a “paint by numbers” production, with most everyone looking as though they were afraid to color outside the lines. Live theatre is all about coloring outside the lines. Most live theatre actors in a long-running play mention it becomes a different production every performance.

    • Bruce Gephart says:

      Deborah, I don’t know if you and I watched the same live TV presentation. I think all of your comments are not really valid. Lighten up and try watching the production again without looking for things to criticize. Maybe you’ll actually enjoy it like my wife and I did.

  26. Michael Grey says:

    I don’t understand why they did not pick Anne Hathaway as she would have been perfect for the role. I like Carrie Underwood but she is not as good of an actress and has too much of a country look.

    • Franny says:

      Yes, I agree with your post. I’ve been going to musicals on and off Broadway for years. I’ve seen college shows that were better than this because the actors were loose and had a little bit of freedom to change it up a tad if the moment called for it. The acting was stiff, as if the actors were afraid. There were so many people screaming on this board that this is what you should expect from a theater production. In my opinion, this is the last thing I’d expect from a theater show. Like I said, I’ve been going to the theater for years.

      I sat down and was giving the show a chance and I really wanted to like it. I wasn’t comparing this production to the movie. I adore live theater. Many of the other supporting actors were wonderful. But in my opinion if you are going to put a show on live TV, the lead actress had better be able to act. I thought that her singing was way too loud at times and sounded more like a cabaret singer. Carrie should stick to community theater for a while and get some experience before she gets a lead role like this in front of millions of viewers.

    • DanZee says:

      My wife said the same thing!

  27. Guy Jones says:

    Love you Carrie! I am an Okie so probably prejudice set in but you are still the great!!!


    Loved It! TV should have more of these productions. ON Free TV, Talent, Entertaining!

  29. Dr Dan says:

    I think it’s totally unfair for all these comparison and negative reviews to the movie versus this stage production. How much more difficult can it be to go three hours straight live compared to many many retakes over many weeks to make a movie. I think we lose sight of how difficult this can be. At one point during do re mi, I noticed Miss Underwood out of breath. Anyone would be , the stress of being live and a three hour straight performance is exhausting even for a seasoned performer. I believe the cast did the best they could do for a 6 week rehearsal and less than that, for on set rehearsal. Miss Underwood’s voice was wonderful and hitting the high range had to be difficult under those circumstances. I, for one , applaud NBC for their efforts and hope they Bring more live performances to TV for the whole family to enjoy. The nostalgic feeling that our family felt reminded me of the 50s and 60s when Cinderella was once produced on TV like this.

    • Scott says:

      I wholeheartedly agree. Bravo! To all involved in this truly special event. I also hope to see more live “theatre” on television. Dramas and comedies as well as musicals!

  30. Xochil says:

    What a big let down this rendition of the Sound of Music was last night. The Directing and screen play were like nails on a chalk board. Nothing was more worse than the songs being sung in a very strange order and the elementary acting. Carrie Underwood is a fantastic singer but should stick to singing that’s her money maker. The ads advertising this TV show should have run like this, “Doe Ray Me Fa Sew La Tea, NOOOOOOOO!

    • So many people have never seen the ORIGINAL stage production, they assume that the movie is how it was first presented. The order of the songs in this true-to-the-original stage production were just that….how it appeared in 1959 with Mary Martin creating the role that Rodgers and Hammerstein wrote FOR her. The movie came along 7 years LATER, dropped the two numbers for Max and Elsa, added new songs (“I Have Confidence” and “Something Good” in place of the admittingly boring and pedantic “An Ordinary Couple), shifted “My Favorite Things” from a duet between Maria and the Mother Abbess to the thunderstorm scene and shifted “Lonely Goatherd” from the thunderstorm scene to an added scene where Maria and the children entertain visiting Baroness Elsa and Max with borrowed puppets. NONE of this was original, but certainly worked well in the movie. By the way, Hammerstein was dead before the movie was filmed…..Please, do not compare a live stage production with a movie that has umpteen opportunities to shoot scenes multiple times. And learn your musical theater history before criticizing. I’ve been correcting people all day with mis-conceptions.

      And, yes, I am a musical theater professional and played the role of Maria in a stage production as it was conceived.

  31. Brad says:

    We need more presentations such as “Sound of Music”. Each performance of a play is different and each actor ads their unique interpretation to the show. This presentation was great. Hurrah for NBC tackling a big task. It is a shame when we have gone from kinescope to graphics and can’t appreciate each method for their own exceptions. I have a hard time even getting my grandkids to watch a black and white 1940s movie or even a silent film. Carrie and the crew did a great presentation … we need more of that quality.

    • mary says:

      Thank you and I agree

      • Bruce Gephart says:


        I am now REALLY in the happy Christmas spirit—-and I may watch the 12/4 production of TSOM on my DVR every day the rest of this month!!!

        Not many people have mentioned anything about the great performance by the (inexperienced) actress who played the oldest Von Trapp daughter, Liesl.. I couldn’t believe it when I found out that she is a college junior who VERY effectively portrayed a delightful a 16-year-old girl. I saw the actress in an interview after I watched her for the first time this past Wednesday PM. She is an even more charming person offstage than she is onstage. I don’t know whether she is a theater or a music major in college, but I would love to see her in future productions on TV. The casting directors really made a great choice when they chose this young woman for their production.

        And I can’t say enough good things about Carrie Underwood’s terrific portrayal of Maria ! . Maybe some critics mistook her very-understated portrayal of Maria as the work of an immature and uninspired amateur actress. Well, whether she portrayed Maria the way she did on purpose or not, hers was a wonderfully believable portrayal of young, naïve Maria! (And that statement comes from a person who has admired—almost idolized—Julie Andrews since I first saw her in the 1965 movie). I think both Julie and Carrie did somewhat different, but nonetheless TERRIFFIC, jobs portraying Maria! Just telling it like I see it. I am no theatrical expert —-except perhaps regarding The Sound of Music…. for the past 48 years!!!

        Hope you all have a truly merry Christmas—–and that includes you “Scrooges” who have been negatively critiquing the most recent Sound Of Music production. May you have some special “night visitors” before Dec. 25…. :)

  32. Margie says:

    I don’t know what you were watching, but “The Sound of Music” we watched was great….It felt sooo nice to
    Watch with kids and grandkids this family show……

  33. The WHOLE production was Horrible.

    From the wooden acting, to the badly lit sets, and the sets themselves.

    WHERE did the alleged $9 MILLION DOLLARS go for this production ?

    Up someone’s nose ?

  34. M says:

    I loved the new Sound of Music! What an accomplishment to do a 3 hour live musical. Carrie Underwood was incredible I was so impressed. The show made me happy I am still the songs out loud. That is what we need today and every day.

  35. JILL says:

    You guys are so jaded. The Sound of Music was lovely! Not perfect but delightful. I barely remember the Julie Andrew version, so it was refreshing to get the story as an adult. Climb Every Mountain was a tear jerker. It was a huge success. Imagine how great the next attempt will be, that is if the critiques don’t rip this concept apart and keep someone else from trying.

  36. Liz Star says:

    The music is unmistakably wonderful, but our household could not take the terrible acting of the 2 leads and the kids-while so talented-lacked the sweet innocence of the original actors. The absolute stunning star was Audra MacDonald!!!!!!!!
    Frau Schraeder was also fine.
    Nice effort everyone, but the huge casting miss on the two leads made this great effort unwatchable.

  37. Sam says:

    Although she over sang at time, Underwood is of course a great vocalist. But, she does need to work on the acting (her performance made me appreciate Julie Andrews’ portrayal).

    Also, whomever mixed the sound needs to step up their skills. The tone of all of the vocals were completely dry and flat during the singing and at times the overall volume mix of the orchestra drowned out the vocals. It’s obviously been a long time since sound engineers at NBC had to pull of something live like this, but have they completely forgotten that putting a little reverb on a vocalist typically helps? They used to do that in all the variety shows, maybe they should pull some old tapes and take a listen.

    The bright spot in the production was Audra McDonald (Mother Abbess), she was brilliant both singing and acting.

    Overall, the show was ok and I was happy to see NBC trying to do something different and introduce this show to a new generation. Ratings were strong, so maybe it will help revive the lost art of live television.

  38. It amazes me that the critics can always find something wrong with every performance. The way I judge TV shows and entertainment in general is “did I enjoy this show?” I did thoroughly enjoy The Sound of Music with Carrie Underwood, and I am impressed with young Carrie and her willingness to try this very difficult performance. Just remember, it seems to be that critics are called that for a reason since they must be critical. Best wishes to Carrie Underwood and the entire superb cast.

  39. paula menefee says:

    I did watch it and while I was unable to keep thinking of the movie or some of the theater productions I have seen of Sound of Music. I enjoyed it because it was nice to see something live again on tv. It was refreshing and not canned. That is the fun of a live show. With the cost of live show at the theater making hard to afford tickets to share this with my nephews and nieces I would have been happy to introduce them to live shows this way. Yes the chemistry was not there and songs were moved to make this new it was still worth the time not counting commercials.

  40. Mag says:

    Loved it! So glad I’m not jaded, can’t wait to buy my copy!

  41. missy says:

    Sadly I thought Carrie Underwood was TERRIBLE in last nights Sound of Music, her voice is OK, but nothing compares to Julie Andrews and Carrie’s acting was so bad it was painful to watch

  42. Jane House says:

    There was 9 million dollars invested in this project, so why didn’t they spend more money and time pre-testing the sound quality coming over our TV? I don’t get it. Surely, the million-dollar producers tested the sound mix and could hear the constant static buzz–that never went away. It reminded of watching TV in the early 1960’s on my grandparents’ black & white TV, complete with an antenna (rabbit ears)–trying to get the best reception & sound. Also, the taped orchestra drowned out the singers’ vocals for three hours. They needed to soften the orchestra background music, so all of the vocals were the primary voices that you clearly heard. These were way more obvious problems to me, than Carrie Underwood’s acting ability.

    • Homaler says:

      Thank you!! First comments I have read regarding that foolish static, I thought it was my system

      As tot eh production: lots of marketing to have people buy the DVD for holidays, this IS NOT going to come even close to the Andrews movie

  43. TGW says:

    I thoroughly enjoyed this major event. I’m of an age that remembers the last live musical & so it was refreshing that the folks involved put there time, effort & money into something that is a true ‘reality show’!
    Ms. Underwood was magnificent & since I know every word to every song, I guess I thought I would compare her to Ms. Andrews. Well I didn’t & she stood & conquered her role.
    Congrats to all & yes, since I live on the left (best) coast, it would have been nice not to have to muddle thru everyone’s opinions before viewing it myself.
    Happy Holidays!

  44. Colleen says:

    I agree with the review. Did not “feel it” from Carrie Underwood at all plus no chemistry between her and Moyer. I questioned the casting while watching. I should not have had to do that. It was quite boring and I kept replaying the movie in my mind despite reminding myself that this was based on the PLAY. It was strange how the play seemed choppy if you’d seen the movie. The bottom line is kudos to everyone since it was live, but other than that I don’t think it was that great at all.

  45. Bravo to all concerned for a brave and generally successful effort. Ariane Rinehart was particularly lovely.

  46. mrgmen says:

    Great job. My kids loved it. I’m amazed how critical people are to this amazing feat. Get over yourselves. I am not a fan of Carrie Underwood, but I think she did an amazing job. I am not sure how they could have done better. Its a classic! Does anyone know how hard it is to remake a classic successfully? My 9 year old who never had seen the old version was riveted to the TV the whole time. I would much rather her watch that then some BS singing show with Simon showing its OK to be an pompus A@#

  47. Vino says:

    A tedjous musicom.

  48. We loved it too. Carrie did an excellent job as did the other cast members.

  49. James Burgett says:

    We loved it. It was live TV, no retakes. They did a great job. Carrie Underwood gets an A.

  50. Ann Braun says:

    I grew up with the Andrews/Plummer version, so I really did make the effort to keep an open mind while watching (on DVR a day later). Sorry, but even skipping past the commercials didn’t even help. It was a nice effort, but my heart is with the the original film version. It’s obvious that they had to squeeze and condense the production to make time for the commercials. And what happened to “I Have Confidence” and the puppet show with “The Lonely Goatherd?” Last night’s version had some very powerful vocalists, but that just didn’t make up for acting talent and breathtaking scenery in the Andrews/Plummer film version.

    • Mary Carlson says:

      This was the ORIGINAL Broadway production. Just as it was 1st performed starring Mary Martin,
      You may love Julie Andrews , but she did NOT originate the role.
      Nor did they have a puppet show.
      How would you suppose they could pull that off live, on a stage?

      And the missing songs? Were written for the film, they are not “original”.
      That word all you nay sayers keep using !

More TV News from Variety