Friday, December 6, 2013

Come on People, Really? The Sound of Music LIVE

     Unreasonable expectations abound when it comes to the groundbreaking three hour performance of The Sound of Music LIVE on NBC December 5, 2013.  I grew up watching The Sound of Music, and of course Carrie Underwood isn't Julie Andrews, but she and that cast did a decent made-for-TV LIVE version of a classic Broadway musical made movie that can't be matched.  There are a number of reviews floating around, but this is the article that seems most accurate of the ones I’ve read.
     Not even Carrie Underwood thought she could be a modern day Julie Andrews.  One of the qualities of classic, famous films is that the parts are played so well by those chosen for those roles that you can’t imagine anyone else doing it better.  If you tuned in last night to see if Carrie Underwood would put in a performance as perfectly fitting, amazing, and endearing as Julie Andrews did, then in my opinion, you just don’t get it.
     It didn’t look like there was anything alive on that hill, except for people.  Costumes weren’t always fitted properly.  The sound mix left something to be desired.  All true.  The scenery wasn’t perfect or as breathtaking as filming on location, nor were the costumes as impressive or the lighting as spot-on as it could be, but again, what do you expect for a soundscape where you must perform and get the audio and video as perfect as possible because you’re broadcasting live to millions? 
     I think it was incredibly gutsy of Carrie Underwood to accept this challenge.  No one with any sense, understanding of musical theater, of acting, filmmaking, or Broadway actually expected last night’s performance to make people jump up and rejoice that a moving rendition of the story had finally been done right.  They did it right with the original film that came out in 1965, which is the only reason this whole scenario has caused such an uproar.  People respect and appreciate the quality of the original film and its actors.  The Sound of Music is a classic that continues to be unparalleled. 

     Last night’s performance was never intended to rival that of the movie.  It was done more to inspire others to have a love and appreciation for Broadway classics, LIVE performances, and adaptations of plays meant to be judged in their own light and merit rather than compared to something else.  The adaptations made for shooting this on a soundscape live were quite clever.  The primary songs for which the musical is known and loved were fit in, even if they didn’t appear in the order or circumstances in which they were in the movie.  The choreography was commendable, the singing mostly beautiful, and the acting, by and large, was good.
     My favorite quote about last night came from my husband: “They did a great job.  It’s just the audio that bothers me.”  Trust my dear spouse to come up with such an assessment of a Broadway musical.  To his credit, I knew that as someone who used to be a musician, own a recording studio, and be the soundman for different bands Kevin was talking about his dissatisfaction with the audio mix produced by the person(s) at the controls of the soundboard.  Often the instruments overpowered the singing, which they wouldn’t have and shouldn’t have if done correctly.
     My mom’s biggest pet peeve was that they didn’t use true edelweiss flowers.  When my mom was fourteen, she went with her father to Austria, and they brought home some edelweiss seeds wrapped up in newspaper.  My mother has fond memories of planting them and watching them bloom in her grandmother’s garden.     

     I grew up watching The Sound of Music as did my mother.  The two of us know every word of the original script and songs by heart, yet we really enjoyed the creativity used for this production, because we didn’t go into it thinking or expecting Carrie Underwood or anyone else to upstage the original film version.  We hoped to be entertained and reminded of our favorite scenes from the movie, which we were.  In our minds that was the intention in the first place; therefore, mission accomplished.      
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