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.)

Production

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

Crew

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

Cast

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

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  1. Those that are writing good things about the show must not have any theatre experience what so ever.. To think they had all that money in the show and the best they could do for choreo is have the girls curtsey over and over again…What? It was ridiculous. The whole directing, acting, and dancing of the show played like a soap opera, and a bad one at that. Carrie was completely unconnected to any character and it felt like she was searching the back of her head for the next line. I felt bad for the rest of the actors because it would have been easier to play off of a blank wall then create a scene with someone that gave no character or feeling. I could have placed any one of my youth theater kids in place of Carrie and though their voices would not have been as strong their acting would have far surpassed hers. Sorry but this show was a LEMON complete miss.

    • joancj says:

      I totally agree with Mary Carlson. It was not a good show and Carrie Underwood was not suited for this role. Her singing was just ok and her acting was terrible. There are many others who would have been excellent. NBC did not do Carrie any favors by putting her in this show. She gave it a great effort, but it simply wasn’t good.

      Louden, everyone is allowed to have their own opinion. As was pointed out, you obviously have little or no experience with musical theater. If you did, you would also agree with Mary. To insult someone because they gave what they considered an honest review displays your arrogance and ignorance… not theirs!

    • Colleen says:

      Totally agree with you. I live on a small island (pop. 60,000) and have seen productions just as good from high school actors. You are NOT being arrogant, just honest.

      Carrie may be a good singer, but I have never felt she has charisma, no matter how hard I try to find it in her. She sells millions of cd’s so I keep trying to understand why since she doesn’t have a distinctive voice or personality. People probably like her because she is a relatable girl next door. Too bland for me to find entertaining, sorry.

    • Mary Carlson says:

      I,actually, know quite a bit about musical theatre. Or any kind of theatre. Live theatre. Not something on film treated with special effects, pitch correction and digital enhancement.
      I don’t watch soap operas. But I respect those actors as well. I believe they usually get their script the day before filming. Given the circumstances, soap actors are heroic!
      But, with all of your show biz knowledge, you surely know all this.
      As someone who,according to you, leads a children’s theatre group, surely you would encourage live productions on television, to inspire new generations to persue and support LIVE art. Its better than reality TV.
      I fully support this production.
      You are sounding like a frustrated amateur.
      Its not a good look for you.

  2. LEIGH HARTMANN says:

    This was a live television production. With that will come some goofs and errors. Having the hundreds involved remain on the same page, and to the letter, all of the time is a huge expectation. Part of what make live TV so great is the unexpected.
    To be sure, Carrie isn’t Julie. But few others would be that good anyway, Julie Andrews knocked it out of the park forever. Carrrie Underwood did a very credible job as Maria. The choice of the Captain would not have been mine. Moyar didn’t appear imposiing enough. Audra stole the show with her voice and belivability. The children were very good and I would think all have a bright future should they want to pursue the theater.
    Good job NBC for taking the risk. In this day of political correctness and all that stuff, it is wonderful for somebody to pick up the challenge and say “Go for it!!!” We, the viewers are the better for it and television grows as well.
    KEEP IT UP–WE NEED THIS KIND OF TELEVISION.

    • Libby Behler says:

      I agree with everything you stated and just want to add that I really respect Carrie Underwood for taking on this role, knowing full well she wasn,t the actress Julie Andrews is. Her singing was fantastic. Stephen Moyer was 100 times worse acting and singing, compared to anyone else in the show. He absolutely ruined the chance of the love theme being pulled off. Why on earth was he chosen for the role?

    • trimoot says:

      Wonderful comment! A breathe of fresh air (after ready a few of the stinky ones!).

  3. Bob Meyers says:

    While the reviews may be solid, seeing Carrie Underwood’s ‘Snow White’ performance was entertaining.
    No one expected a Mary Martin or Julie Martin performance on live TV, from an inexperienced cast, especially in a venue so unforgiving as live TV.
    The show was solid, Carrie’s fans as am I have to be thrilled with her first time at the plate. Give her some lesson’s and more experiance and I would love her to take on Peter Pan..

  4. Angee says:

    I like the reviewer’s comment that while this could have been better — initially I gave myself only 5 minutes with this an actually watched the whole thing — it was quite an undertaking and let’s not discourage others from branching out and attempting the same things.

  5. Me says:

    NBC tried … but between Carrie Underwood’s deadly acting, terrible fake mountains and the incessant Walmart commercials, I found myself yelling “NO!”
    It made Julie Andrews look INCREDIBLE!

  6. Kathleen Botka says:

    Did anyone notice that Carrie tripped ‘on the mountain’ and grimaced for a second while she was singing at the beginning of the show? She recovered nicely, but it was an awkward moment for her!

    • grla says:

      Yes — and someone also accidentally stepped on the train of Laura Benanti’s gown in the party scene. When the performance is live, those things happen. I’ve seen sets fall apart on Broadway and prop problems at the Metropolitan Opera, watched one of the “snowflakes” lose her shoe in the middle of the New York City Ballet’s “Nutcracker” and marveled at Angela Lansbury’s aplomb as every ten minutes the theater where she was performing was shaken by blasting from a construction project across the street. The fact is, the performers in last night’s telecast deserve credit for recovering from all the little mishaps and carrying on as if nothing had happened. Good for them.

      I do wish they had cast a younger looking actor in the part of Rolf and made Stepen Moyer look a little older. Rolf is supposed to be a boy of seventeen going on eighteen, not a twenty year old man. Meanwhile, although Stephen Moyer may actually be in his forties, in this telecast he appeared to too young to have had a distinguished naval career in a war that ended twenty years before we first meet him on screen.

      • Don says:

        First, this was a live production of the Broadway musical, not a remake of the movie. As i recall Broadway shows usually have extended runs during which the cast jells and gets more comfortable as they go.
        This was a one shot thing and i did notice as it went on the cast got more comfortable with themselves and each other.

        Second, This was intended as a live for tv production as such there was an element missing from the directorial staff. There was as far as i know noone from the movie industry to help . Tv is closer to movies than theater. All the cast would have benifited from some coaching in using facials. The biggest issue i saw was those with experience had no idea how to project with out all the special effects they have in tv production.

        An example of what im talking about would be Bela Lugosi’s Dracula or Christopher Lee’s mummy. In that film Lee’s character through most of the movie has to be carried with only his eyes to communicate.

        Another great was of course Johnathan Frid.

        This cast did a great job with what they had to work with.
        One other point , lets face it there is no way ,at least that i can see that you can make Carrie Underwood look plain and rustic.

  7. Larry Gene says:

    One thing not mentioned was the ridiculous changes in the script done by this production. Mother Superior never sang My Favorite Things. It was done by Maria to calm the children during the thunderstorm. Lonely Goatherd? Really? And the changes in the end being sold old by the Captain’s best friend now being saved??And no mention of the true bad guy, Hitler.

    Carrie was plastic as an actress. while her singing was good we still could not bare to watch the acting. The use of that gigantic soundstage was a thrill going from the Von Trapp mansion into the abbey BUT everything else was just bad. They would have done better to just use a large proscenium stage theatre with curtains.

    • areyn says:

      In the original Broadway version of the music, Mother Superior does sing My Favorite Things. It’s the movie version where Maria sings it during the thunderstorm.

  8. To the author Is there nothing positive you could say about Carrie Underwood ?
    This film is Carrie`s. If it flopped you would be those gleefully cheering form the side lines. Carrie Underwood is a God fearing Christian lady and not afraid to show her faith. Accept that.

    • Ms. J says:

      I agree with the other reviewer, being a Christian I do cheer for my fellow sister in Christ. Still, I do not think Carrie Underwood should have played this role. Not for one second. If there had to be a remake, I agree with the Von Trapp family and suggest Anne Hathaway. I mean seriously Carrie also jacked up my SNF song. Its a hot mess!

    • L says:

      I’m Catholic & Christian, and I know bad acting when I see it. Just because someone is a Christian doesn’t make them a good actor. No one said anything about her showing her faith. The play/film is written that way. Not just for her christianity

    • Larry Gene says:

      Yes, this film is Carrie’s and she failed. It has nothing to do with faith or being a God fearing Christian woman. It has to do with BAD acting and casting. PERIOD!!

  9. B Montgomery says:

    I was surprised when i learned of all of the controversy surrounding casting Carrie Underwood to star as Maria in this live tv production of the sound of music. I’m a believer in respecting people’s viewpoints even if they differ from mine and I’m sure it helped increase the viewership…18.5 million.

    So here goes my thoughts about the live production instead of my thoughts about the hype.

    I found it refreshing. I didn’t go into it knowing that The Sound of Music was a stage production in germany based on a book then performed as a play in the U.S. before they made the 1965 movie starring Julie Andrews.

    But it was apparent that they weren’t trying to mimic the movie and I didn’t watch it with the intent of comparing the two. It helped that I watched the special beforehand about how they attempted to make a live production of a musical for tv. And that is one reason i enjoyed it. I was admiring what it took to do so as I watched it.

    In a movie you get the benefit of many retakes to make sure the lines are all correct, that the lighting is perfect, and that the acting is spot on at every turn. So that’s why it was easy for me to overlook these differences and have that not impact my enjoyment as much as it did for some reviewers….I also really admired how Carrie Underwood and some of the other inexperienced actors were able to do so well even if they weren’t perfect. I didn’t expect perfection. I think this would be unrealistic. I thought they pulled off what they were trying to accomplish and that was not to be a copy of movie.

    It was actually refreshing that I was able to see a new take on this classic. I felt it emphasized a little more about the impact of music on a family but it still had enough of the important elements of the story. I was ok with that, even if that was nay not have been the intent of the director or producer.

    I have watched the movie version for many years at christmastime and it was getting redundant. I’m not saying that that the film isn’t great and the characters in the movie version aren’t superperb…Just that after so many years I would get tired of any movie.

    That’s why I was so glad that they made something so different. It was refreshing to watch a wholesome family-oriented show that would appeal to all ages even if it didn’t to everyone. I would definitely watch it a couple of times again at christmastime like I would watch any other movie, tv show, or play…except only a handful of ones that I’ve seen.

    So, I guess I feel that is all I wish to comment on. Because disecting it any more would seem like I was being overly picky, though other people have a right to see it through their eyes and I wouldn’t consider them picky.

    Simply said, I enjoyed it. I wish they would make more shows in this format again.

    • L says:

      The only inexperienced actors besides her were the children & a couple of them are actually in drama school at the university level. All the adults area accomplished actors from Broadway, film & tv.

    • Bruce Gephart says:

      Thank you, B. I feel EXACTLY like you do about this production, and I am disgusted with all of the harsh—sometimes nasty—comments being posted on here. Sure are a lot of unhappy people in our country…

  10. Reber says:

    I think you’d have to say that the official reviews were mixed. Mine:

    1) Was the acting a little stiff – Yes.
    2) Was there much chemistry between Carrie Underwood and Stephen Moyer – No.
    3) Were any of the kids memorable – No. (In fact Amanda Bynes called to say most were ugly).
    4) Were there some audio and staging issues – Yes.
    5) Were there some updated dialog references that annoyed me (like Christian Borles “Presto-Chango” comment after a quick change into a tux) – Yes.
    6) Any showstopper moments besides the annoying Walmart ads – Yes probably Reverend Mother’s “Climb Every Mountain” at the expense of her character, a little over the top for a nun.
    7) Was it as good as either the movie or the Broadway stage production – No.
    8) Was it a great evening of classic entertainment that I enjoyed completely – YES!

    Rating: 7

    Classic tweet of the night: Zach Braff: “The Nazis probably would have left them alone if they didn’t yodel, No one likes yodeling.”

    Kudos to NBC for taking a chance. That’s encouraging as primetime TV sucks eggs in my view. I don’t know how many kids peeled off at 8.30 to play Grand Theft Auto though.

    • Here is hoping NBC would have more God based Christian faith influenced TV series and not treat it like something to be swept under the rug.

      • Paul Luchter says:

        Give it up. If any time Christianity is a piece of an artwork, you cream for it. Geez, why not just go to a museum and enjoy hundreds of years, thousands of years, of “Christian based” productions. It is like saying I liked the play because the kids wore green, and I like green.

      • Bruce Gephart says:

        Better be careful, Rene. You mentioned God and Christian in your post. I said on an earlier post that I’m glad I don’t get my values from Hollywood; I go to a good, Bible-preaching church. Someone decided from that ONE remark that I am a hate-spewing, religious hypocrite, who goes around causing trouble all over the country, etc.

        Well, that ‘s sad… and very incorrect. But religious persecution in this country—esp. for Christians—is becoming more and more of a threat. I thought I just watched a program just last night about the bad Nazis, who mistreated and killed Jews and genuine Christians….Sigh…

    • Steven says:

      The “presto–change-oh” line is in the original broadway script!!

  11. bryan says:

    I remember some of the great live performances of the past on TV and value the effort that went into this. Amazing work on the part of the actors. Did not have the expanse of the movie or a live stage performance, but it was great in its own right. Please continue this effort to present live musicals and please drama in the likes of “Death of a Salesman”, Our Town”, “The Lottery”, etc. Tired to death of reality TV and Hollywood tv gossip junk. Bravo to NBC.

  12. Alan gonzalez says:

    If there’s any luck the redemption goes to the production and NBC for the effort. The role of casting guy and would be Von Trapp ( not Carrie of course) was flawless. The children’s non cohesive melody were faulty for the most part and non moving at all individually. ( except for the second boy ). I was teary eyed the whole time not of joy and memory but the misfortune of being compared to Ms Andrews. You do the math.

  13. M Allen says:

    I can hardly wait to watch the comedy shows lampoon Underwoods horrifying acting in this thing. Yes this is an instant classic for how bad it really was. That first kiss between The Capt and Maria was like watching someone sucking on the side of a lifeless building. The mother superior actually out sang the lead actress on These are a few of my favorite things. I’m tempted to give out copies of this DVD as a gag gift to see their reactions. So far every friend i’ve spoken to has had the same reaction. AWFUL! The funniest catch is that ratings will be over the top and it won’t matter how bad this really was. All you need is a big named celebrity and run with it. NBC needs to do a stage version of Sophies Choice and cast Carrie in that. The ratings will zoom and her fans will swear it’s one of the finest performances they’ve ever seen hahahahaha. Oh how they just pulverized the sound of music. God bless them what an effort.

  14. billh says:

    My wife can tell you, I rarely sit through a whole presentation on TV, let alone 3 hours. Just the fact that it was a live TV performance of the stage play captivated me. We need more of this. Great to see NBC’s high numbers for the presentation.

  15. P. A. Jenkins says:

    Thank you NBC and Wal Mart for this production. I loved it. It was a breath of fresh air.

  16. Sean Moloney says:

    Wow! My dad took me to see the original in theatres when I was three. Ihave watched it with my kids many times since. Was actually looking forward to seeing this live production and though did not expect it to outshine the original, was hardly prepared for how low the bar has been set. It was reminicent of bad elementary school performance, what a mistake to put someone who can not act in a lead role. The other members though talented seemed so uncomfortable most likely feeling like they were rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic. YIKES!

  17. Thank you, NBC, for a wholesome and enjoyable experience. I appreciate the entire cast with their many and varied talents, and all the artists and crew who were responsible for the sets, lighting, music, camera action, etc–great job!.

    This was not a film with all of its takes and multiple retakes, editing, multiple locations “fused” into one seeming “whole.” This was not based on the movie version, but on an original Broadway production. Trying to compare the two is like comparing apples to oranges–they simply do NOT taste the same–so get over it!

    If this were a film, every actor would have had to do retakes for proper facial expressions, tone of voice, word stressing, accents, etc. Not one actor was spot on in last night’s production–even the actors that you consider to be of a higher caliber. But who cares–nothing and no one in this world is perfect! This production was lovely and enjoyable to watch. And, it shines a positive light on the possibility of future projects of this ilk.

    I’ve been to Salzburg, and taken The Sound of Music tour (I also stayed in the real Villa von Trapp). As much as I love the film with our amazing Julie Andrews, it is not the popular one there. Austria/Germany prefer their film which is truer to the real history, and not our contrived version! They have wisely come to terms with the American version because of the mega tourism dollars that are generated from it; money talks! =)

    I, for one, love any and all productions of the story, in the same way that I embrace all of the Jane Austen productions. More’s the pity if you haven’t the same appreciation; don’t box yourself into a close-minded world.

    • Bruce Gephart says:

      Thank you, Susan. I, too, am thoroughly familiar with the Broadway and the movie versions of this great musical (neither of which is very true to reality in a lot of details, as you mentioned…but that is the entertainment business for you —“give people what they want, and we’ll adjust history as needed”.

      Actually I was VERY surprised that I REALLY enjoyed last night’s live performance (I sat down to watch it with very low expectations—-because it was being performed live, there were a lot of inexperienced actors (especially inexperienced children), you never know what unexpected technical things can malfunction—despite all of the careful planning you do, etc.). Well, I soon decided that my low expectations were very wrong!

      Then this morning I read the review posted above, and a lot of the negative opinions posted here in the comments section, and I seriously wondered if we all were watching the same show last night! I don’t know what some people expected, but quite a few of the comments seem to be hyper-critical to me (like the surprising comment posted right before yours).
      I deal directly with the public in my business, so I guess I shouldn’t be surprised by how very critical many people are today .But, when they attack such a wholesome, well-done program like the live performance I saw last night, it still kind of stuns me.

      I have heard the show got generally excellent reviews from most “critics”, and it got very good TV ratings. So that made me feel better—that maybe I was not wrong in my appreciation. I think a lot of American people must be living very unhappy lives, and they have become angry/discontented in almost every area of their lives. SO sad…..

  18. Steven Carter says:

    Ignore the haters and relish the fact that Carrie did a splendid job in her role as Maria. Her natural beauty, innocence and wonderful voice have won her millions of new fans. She, the cast and production crew have set the new standard for generations to come. The Sound of Music now has three great productions. The original broadway musical with Mary Martin, the movie version with Julie Andrews and now the television version starring Carrie Underwood. This great musical by Rodgers and Hammerstein deserves the very best and so it continues with this latest version. Kudos once again to Carrie and everyone who treated us to this wonderful holiday gift. I expect it will become a holiday TV treat for years and years to come.

  19. Chris S says:

    I’ve read what the critics on the Boston Globe to the Huffington Post have said about NBC’s valiant attempt to air a live performance of the Sound of Music. I agree, somewhat, with many that you can pick it apart due to acting inabilities, or ill-fated chemistry. The REAL reason to me that this was a huge success for NBC was that it was entertaining, family-friendly, non-Christian bashing LIVE entertainment; which is a breath of fresh air in today’s TV programming. KUDOS to the crew and NBC for the show!!!

  20. Billy Clark says:

    The “Critic” only has a job if he can find something wrong to criticize — hence his absurd and often moronic attacks on this beautiful presentation (as my Mom used to tell me: “consider the source”). As a child of the NY and San Francisco urban environments, and fortunate to be what some would call highly educated and “worldly” (oh no, another damn liberal), I have become tired of those with access to the public ear who support their own fragile egos and lack of self-worth by constantly knocking anything and everything that is positive and heart-warming and can make a person feel good. Yes, the product had flaws and Carrie Underwood is no Julie Andrews — so what! As a writer Brian Lowry is no Ernest Hemingway, has never been nominated for a Pulitzer, nor had a best-selling book… does that mean his life has no meaning? It’s Christmas time folks, time to put down your daily dose of venom and appreciate a great effort by NBC to offer the general public something nice and fun and entertaining. OK, so you didn’t like the commercials — sooo, who pays for this then? Another charge on your cable bill? NBC, the Cast, the Crew, the Sponsors — THANK YOU! I hope guys try this again… Happy Holidays…

  21. B Meyer says:

    I have mixed feelings. I watch the Sound of Music annually from the original cast. What I missed most of all was lack of the opening scene in front of the mountain in a field. You did capture most of the needed music – the songs that made this famous. I think casting of the Trapp children was pretty good.
    Carrie Underwood is a great singer and not sure this role was right for her but she gave it a great effort.
    My hat is off to all involved in trying to bring a live musical format to television, something new and I think a great idea. Have always wanted to see the Wizard of Oz redone. In creating such musicals it may be good to have a review board to offer suggestions before going on the air. Otherwise I say thanks for the valiant effort and do not give up.

    • Mary Carlson says:

      Wow! You watch the original ? Where did you find a copy of Mary Martin on Broadway? I’d love to have a copy!
      Unless you are referring to the film, which is hardly the original!

  22. Jane says:

    Was the littlest girl in the production related to the producer or something?

    • Tim says:

      My thoughts exactly. She was so bad, and her voice was flat. I couldn’t take much more of the production after hearing her. As for the boys there are so many boy choirs around who could of done much better.

  23. Alice Snow says:

    It was painful to watch. Why did they leave Hitler out of their “Heil”? Hitler was the evil behind the Nazi movement. Why did they choose to leave him out of the picture? Why did they choose to change the ending and have Ralph protect them instead of betray them? Was it because it made them feel good to change the story significantly this way? It was a disservice to the original script. Ralph demonstrated the power that the nazi movement had on the people, to soft peddle it in this way, distorts the reality of history, and the accurate portrayal of the original version. I did not like the extra songs they put in, and the way they changed the sequence of things.

    The sister Abyss was a phenomenal singer, and I enjoyed the vocals of the others as well.

    Over-all it left me with a bad taste in my mouth, that I wanted to rinse out watching the original version.

    • Paul Luchter says:

      All these things you criticize as “new” additions and “resequencing” and “new songs” and how Ralph acted at the end: these are all in the ORIGINAL script for the original show which ran for years on Broadway, well before the movie. “No Way To Stop It” was a showstopper of a song in the show, and very popular. Performed countless times on TV variety shows. It was controversial at the time that these songs were elided from the movie, not vice versa. A major problem on the net are comments and commentaries made by people who don’t know what they are talking about but act like experts. Usually this is in being nasty towards what they have no idea about. This is one such time…

  24. Dinah Sutton says:

    I loved it…Kudos to the entire cast and NBC

  25. Julianne Sobel says:

    I admire the effort, and the desire to change it up a bit, with the new musical numbers and excellent cast, with the exception of Carrie Underwood. I am a big fan of Underwood as a vocalist and I enjoyed her singing, including her yodeling. But her acting was really terrible. Sorry Carrie! Just keep singing.

  26. roy says:

    It’s not fair to compare it to the iconic original movie, but kudos for trying. ;-)

  27. Steve Grayson says:

    The NBC show was a great production, I agree with many others voicing that the LEAD role needed an experienced Actress. Underwood looked out of place big time. She was also over powered and by the singing talent as well. You can sure tell it when a singer tries to perform a well known piece of music. The fact that Underwood has very little vibrato in her voice was most evident last night as well. she has a great voice for today’s Pop Country, but not for Broadway.

  28. Matt says:

    This production goes down as one of the most disappointing television events I’ve ever watched. I’m a huge Carrie Underwood fan and believed initially she was ideal for the role. I approached this with a wait and see attitude when it came to her acting. For 9 million dollars and hours of coaching, directing and rehearsal it’s puzzling how that poor acting performance was accepted.

    The bigger puzzle was that Carrie also flopped for me vocally. A nasally Maria just didn’t work. A stone cold emotionless stiff Maria shooting side glances at cue cards just didn’t work. Add in a horrid over all casting of the Capt and forgettable actors for the children and if this thing had opened on Broadway they’d be shut down this morning no matter who each player was they would have felt the scourge of true die hard lovers of musical theater. The saddest part about the whole production is that the performances were so lack luster they failed the exceptional set design. That’s just how bad it was.

    My highest grade goes to Audra who’s experience in musical theater came through. Climb every mountain was a bit over the top in presentation but at that point there needed to be at least one moment that kicked up the pace a notch.

    I’ve seen multiple versions of this production and this was the first time I wanted it to be over. I feel embarrassed for NBC that the best that was accomplished was a ratings number based on casting knowing actual performance would hold no creed. Classics shouldn’t be treated in this manner.

    I also feel bad for this current generation if they honestly believe this is musical theater at it’s current finest. This was so far from it even with Carrie Underwood fans trying to protect her from a negative review as if they are her chosen watchdog. She’ll survive the truth. She’s a 30 year old adult woman who had no business doing this role and was simply used as a ratings ploy.

    This generation has an already sloppy distorted sad and at times pathetic skew when it comes to music in general. It’s a shame in what you’ve missed out on. This was painful to watch. At times we wanted to turn it but labored through to the end. That’s not what you want when you are presenting art to the world. I’m inclined to purchase Tshirts that read.. ” I survived watching the Sound of Music on NBC” just for posterity.

  29. If I were running NBC, I’d keep the sets up, the crew on standby, and get a young B’way leading lady to reprise — sans Carrie Underwood — the entire performance LIVE, just before Xmas. Why not? Isn’t that what Broadway does when it tries out a show out-of-town? Think of the publicity! Think of the ratings! So Carrie’s feelings get hurt — that’s show biz.

  30. Deena Suffin says:

    Thank you for providing such a well considered review. They made some brave choices that didn’t always pan out, but they were rewarded with good ratings and there were some very nice moments. I hope that this effort encourages some other risk takers to produce shows that think outside of today’s tiny entertainment box.

  31. Mike says:

    This was so very refreshing in a television world filled with forgettable and moronic competition programs. We clearly need more of this type of entertainment. There is an entire generation that has never seen anything like this.

  32. Charles Smith says:

    I certainly enjoyed hearing and watching this wonderful piece of musical theatre. I however do not own a DVR and had to endure the HORRIFIC Christmas SALE ads. They each lasted around 4 minutes. A scene – ads, a song – ads. Ruined the whole experience for me. They should have had an ad for DVR’s – gosh, that would not go over – then viewers could delete the (DID I mention) the HORRIFIC Christmas SALE ads. !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  33. Arthur Van Dulay says:

    I have seen hundreds of NY Broadway productions and touring musicals over the years. This was a bold effort by NBC. In all fairness, live theater needs a live audience to draw out the actors emotions by playing to the crowd and receiving crowd reaction. If you want to see how a live theatre performance can be done , rent a copy of Phantom of the Opera 25th anniversary at Albert Hall. Make sure you watch it on a big screen with a good sound system. This is as close as you can get watching it in a live theatre setting.

    • I agree entirely. I have seen Phantom 4x live and it was just as good on the 25th anniversary edition. I did not watch the Sound of Music Live. I prefer the movie even if it is not historically accurate.

    • Mary Carlson says:

      I didn’t care for the POTO 25th anniversary at all. Christine sang sweetly ,but over acted. The Phantom was excellent. They changed Raul’s character to set up for that HORRIBLE sequel the Sam cast later performed.
      Ditto Madame’s character Meg’s.
      And , I mean,seriously the jumbotron? Very distracting.
      Felt like a sporting event!

  34. Ed W. says:

    Let’s face it…Carrie fans would love her even playing King Kong! I am a Carrie fan as well….let me just say…Carrie?…I love you…but…acting is just NOT your strong suit. Assuming of course there was ample time (and it apprears there was) to rehearse and get coached. This is not all about her by the way….most of the cast were just as inept in the acting as well. The set was very ambitious…and the songs for the most part performed well. There were major issues pertaining to lighting, sound and even some of the costumes were suspect but overall the poor acting is what did this production in, in my opinion. the concept of “LIVE” Tv gets kudos and although many are making excuses for the difficulties of such a production, let us not forget Broadway productions go on every day…TWICE a day….for months and years without a hitch. Again…in my opinion, this was a great idea and for those looking for nothing more than a good “Feel – Good holiday ” show, you were not dissapointed. For the purests out there expecting more, i can understand the level of dissapointment.

    • Bruce Gephart says:

      Pretty much totally disagree with you, Ed. And I am not even a Carrie Underwood fan! But when someone gets me really engrossed in a very familiar story, I say she succeeded admirably. Sorry you didn’t enjoy the program so much. If you recorded it, maybe try re-watching it with all pre-conceived opinions set aside (which I had to do). Now I will be watching it again tonight…and enjoying it with my wife this time. Gee, I hope she doesn’t get jealous of Carrie….(who, sans a lot of the makeup she usually plasters on, is more delightful to admire and enjoy the second time around—- when I don’t expect her to be Julie Andrews).

      • Ed W. says:

        Bruce….i didn’t say i didn’t enjoy it…..I was just dissapointed as to how much better it COULD have been…..One doesn’t go into such things with pre-conceived notions…at least we shouldn’t…that being said….with all the hype, pomp and circumstance leading up to this production, one could not HELP having SOME expectations . maybe if it wasn’t as hyped up, ithe results would have been more favorable. Again…I am a fan…and I really wanted her to blow my doors off….and vocally she was fine…but it just wasn’t up to snuff…and one other thing i didn’t mention…there was zero chemistry with her male lead. We just agree to dissagree.

      • jaaxelson says:

        it was …. horrible. i’m sorry, we all wanted it to be great (isn’t that what any show is supposed to be?), but it seems like at every turn to make a good choice the producers came up short by hiring a cool resume rather than an artist who can bring it home, and that includes the director who basically “blocked it” instead of “directed it”. The hard shadows dancing all over the set was … shocking, and the under-lighted opening scene was unforgivable. But when it comes to casting, that was the most hubris filled choice i’ve seen since elizabeth barkley as a stripper in Showgirls. But it all comes back to the Producers who obviously thought they could do no wrong, even if they cast a non actor in one of the most beloved stories in american film … as the lead, in a three hour live broadcast. You have to give Carrie credit for diving into the deep end and barely knowing how to float much less swim.

  35. Kudos to Carrie Underwood and cast for a job well done!
    For the young singer to stretch her comfort zone and perform the role of Maria Von Trapp alone is a feat, and to do it live was overly impressive. Great job Carrie!
    I love The Sound of Music and have enjoyed it my entire life. Audra McDonald, You stopped the show with your beautiful performance of “Climb Every Mountain.” I was moved and leaned over to my wife to say, “There’s the show stopping performance for tonight!” There were a few cringe moments, Carrie almost slipping as she sang in the opening number, Yikes! That’s live TV.
    Bravo cast and crew! Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays.
    As a side note, It was refreshing to actually watch a program in prime time that did not have a corpse on a slab to open the show.

  36. Penny N says:

    I enjoyed it!

    I was not sure what to expect, because a live stage production will be very different than a big production style movie. Who could expect to out perform Julie Andrews? I knew Carrie Underwood could handle the singing, BUT was very surprised to find out Audra McDonald could sing like that, shame on me for not knowing her history, 5 tonys after all!

    I was not disappointed and would like to see more programming that takes a chance. (I was also a fan of SMASH!) I am not that critical of all the production issues, those did not detract from my experience. However, the need to perform live was lost on me, after all I am still watching on my TV. Well that is my 2 cents as “they” say, or in my case “1 cent”.

  37. buddharon says:

    I enjoy it for what it was….a great 3 hr live production musical without intermission, just 3-4 minute commercials. I read the reviews last nite and the critics seem to fixate on Carrie Underwood and comparing her to the Julie Andrews movie version or the Mary Martin stage production. Wrong comparison. Except for Saturday night live and telethons, live production performances have not been done since the Ed Sullivan Show or seriously the old NBC Kraft Playhouse days. Certainly none of them ran 3 hrs. Those other performers who came with Broadway stage experience demonstrated their skills well, and added value to the production. I give Carrie 5 stars for performing well in a venue she has never done before.

    • Penny N says:

      I also fell in love with Carrie’s portrayal. After serious reflection, I think that a young girl in Maria’s position would be very reserved and to find herself attracted to this older man might make her a little unsure.

      The character of Maria was intend on becoming a nun, so marriage was not on her radar, so to speak. Even though Maria is a real person, I seriously doubt if she went to that assignment “to meet the man of her dreams”, she was being obedient and expected to return to the abby.

      So I think that is reflected in Carrie’s acting and maybe even what she was directed to do … be reserved and stand-offish.

    • Bruce Gephart says:

      Agreed, buddharon. I fell “in love” with Carrie’s portrayal (and I am a lifelong Julie Andrews fan!).

  38. cee-dog says:

    Gutsy.

  39. Suzanne brook says:

    Bravo to NBC. It was a valiant effort. Mispent on many dumb @&$@ that kept insisting that the song sequencing was incorrect! The fact that this was a play based on the original stage version was obviously lost on the masses.

  40. Bre Goss says:

    This was amazing, entertaining, endearing…. and I want the DVD to show my friends who missed it. The children and the acting was so adorable. The stage was beautiful and the camera work superb. All the sheer talent that went into this. My husband and I are Sound of Music Julie Andrew diehard fans and we loved this stage presentation to pieces. They both will stand as classics. Thank you for bringing Broadway quality performance to all who chose to watch it without the price of a ticket.

    • Pamela A Thomas says:

      Your thoughts are wonderful, enjoyable 3 hours . Can’t wait for DVD

    • Bruce Gephart says:

      I agree with everything you said here Bre. It seems a lot of people who are posting on here are being way too critical (just like the jaded reviewer who wrote the article which prompted all of the responses here).

      Some people couldn’t appreciate a great program if they were actually paid to watch it. I’m going back for “seconds” tonight! (Oh dear, then I guess it will no longer be “live” on my DVR. Who cares! Excellent is excellent—I actually like spaghetti better when I eat the leftovers. (Now that’s interesting commentary there :) )

  41. Willam-Garry Barr says:

    Yes, it was a valiant effort but who can surpass the appearance, singing voice and the appeal of Julie Andrews’ British accent?. However Carrie was great and I rooted for her from the time I heard she was taking the lead role.

  42. Liz says:

    It sucked. Across the board. Painful, dismal and very badly sung. And Maria the novitiate in high heels??????!!

    • Mary Carlson says:

      Well, you know they didn’t feature the 25 year age difference in the film, now did they. Plummer was 6 years older than Andrews. Didn’t that bother you, you being a purist and all.

  43. CB Cooper says:

    The unique quality of this being a LIVE televised production made all the imperfections more fun in my opinion. I observed little “mistakes” here and there but I put those into the context of the challenges of doing it all live. The oddities of some of the camera movements and some of the vocal challenges made it all the more real. Hearing those wonderful R&H songs performed live was a great holiday gift to those of us who got it – that it was LIVE! To those of you who turned it off after 10 minutes because it wasn’t Julie Andrews and the perfection of a recorded singing track,, it’s too bad because you missed a really wonderful and often enchanting revival. Thanks to NBC…I hope you done this again sometime!

  44. Genwah says:

    Excellent. The critical critics are WRONG on this one.

  45. Nancy Walters says:

    Bravo to NBC! We loved it and appreciate the “family” entertainment that NBC presented. Let’s see more in the future.

  46. Suzanne says:

    Hats off to NBC and to the cast! I am very surprised at all the negative criticism, especially towards Carrie Underwood. I think she did a fine acting job. It is unreasonable to be comparing this theatre production to the movie that took months and months to film and like all films had the luxury of retake after retake to get it just right. I thoroughly enjoyed it, as did many others. Isn’t that the point? It was a wonderful holiday treat, and I. hope NBC got the ratings it hoped for so that we can see more live theatre on TV.

    • L says:

      Not comparing her to Andrews. It was not a fine acting job. You don’t have to compare someone to someone else to know that watching them act is painful enough.

  47. Carol Kozelski says:

    Loved the entire production.Give everyone, cast, crew, and producers an “Emmy” now !!!!!Any nitpickers should try doing it “live” and putting on such a great show in front of the whole world.Don’t compare it to the movie or the original production. It stands very well on its own merit Will definitely buy the DVD just to see it again…Thank you Thank you NBC!!!

  48. Thespian says:

    We enjoyed the show last night and are glad we didn’t read malcontent reviews and social media comments before watching it.

  49. Linda Ruzics says:

    I truly enjoyed last nights production and because I knew it wasn’t the movie I was open for something different and am very appreciative of NBC taking the chance and hope in the future there will be more live musicals on TV.
    That said the entire cast sang their best. I fell in love with the children, the nuns, Maria & the Captains love story (did you watch their dance? no chemistry!) I’m buying the soundtrack and want the DVD for Christmas.

  50. biff burns says:

    I’m baffled as to why no one has called out the truly horrible audio on this production. I tuned in briefly but could not stand dealing with the weak audio and what appears to have been a worse-than-incompetent job of placing microphones on the actors or anywhere else. Ludicrous.

    • Chuckles says:

      I agree with Biff and Sam regarding the “horrific” sound quality that had a consistent ‘HISS” that sounded like a waterfall during the dialogue. We were so looking forward to the program but It was so annoying that we turned the channel. I find it hard to believe in this day of sound technology that the problem was never rectified during the performance. If you ask me the Sound Engineer’s head should roll on this one. Too Bad, I really feel for the performers given all the time and effort put forth.

    • sam says:

      I agree wholeheartedly and this is not about having too critical an ear. There was a persistent hiss of white noise that was very irritating, and the prerecorded orchestra music was too loud compared to the vocals. There have to have been professional audio technicians on the set… weren’t they listening to what went out over the airwaves? I’ve never seen the entire original movie and was really looking forward to this production… but the audio deserved better attention from the producers.

    • Bruce Gephart says:

      I feel sorry for you. You missed a great program because of your critical ear. Lighten up. I’m glad I don’t work with or for you!

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