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on January 1, 2014
The great actor John Barrymore succeeded in the role of Hamlet as few Americans of his time did. Comparisons with earlier Hamlets were inevitable. What made his special however, was that he approached the role as if it were written specifically for him. It was a novel approach and it worked. No less was this production of The Sound of Music just as special for viewers today, and for exactly the same reason as Barrymore's Hamlet worked in 1924. This is a NEW approach to a timeless classic. In that sense, it worked beautifully. Carrie Underwood made Maria her own. She did transform from the flibbertigibbet in the earlier part of the show to a mature woman who was indeed a level headed strong person when she needed to be. By the same token, Von Trapp transformed to the military martinet in the first part of the show to a loving father in the later scenes when he needed to. Underwood's transformation was subtle, as it should be, but it was there. Having seen the show many times on stage in local community theaters, I often missed the transformation because it wasn't there.

Having been an actor and musician for 45 years I know how difficult one time live performances can be. There are no retakes. Carrie Underwood was the consummate professional in working with the children and using her professionalism to guide them through this one time event. For this day and age in Television entertainment, it was great to see something for the whole family done so well.

The sets were great. The abbey was the abbey, the villa and gardens were beautiful and did not take away from the performances of the actors. Going back to the staging of the original 1959 show, and the original songs was a great idea. Would Rodgers and Hammerstein have approved of this new production? I think they would. Too often I have seen stage productions of movies rip off movie choreography and staging. The staging, blocking, and choreography in this production were fresh. This production should be in every family's video library. Kudos to everyone involved. And please don't view this comparing it to the film..Appreciate this classic on its own.
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on December 29, 2013
I was skeptical when I heard that Carrie Underwood was going to star in a live stage version of the classic "The Sound of Music." After all, I saw Julie Andrews in the movie when it was released. I was nine years old. I've seen the movie countless times since. Put aside your doubts and judge this live stage version on its own merits. It shouldn't be compared to the movie version or the Broadway version. Both of these changed many facts and features of the book written by Maria Von Trapp about her singing family. There doesn't have to be "one" version that meets the "purity" test for lovers of this immortal story. Carrie Underwood does an amazing job with the music. Her acting skills have been panned. Yet I give her kudos for taking on this role in a live version. Ms. Underwood is not an accomplished actress. In this version, she is surrounded by several very accomplished actors and actresses. In my view, Ms. Underwood brought a freshness and vitality to her role as the shy, awkward governess who comes to rescue a family from its prison of grief and misery. Make your own judgment after watching "The Sound of Music Live!" I'm thankful that I did.
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on April 10, 2017
I was hoping that this would be good. I love the film, but I was hoping for a version that was closer to the original play. This version adheres to the original script (with the substitution of the film's "Something Good" for the original "Ordinary Couple"), but the overall performances are flat and wooden. Christian Borle and Laura Benati do their best to raise the production, but they cannot overcome Carrie Underwood's poor acting. "Sound of Music" succeeds or fails based on the actress playing Maria. Underwood certainly looks the role and is a capable singer, but is wooden and flat as an actress. I have seen better acted Marias in high school performances. Stephen Moyer, who was dynamic in HBO's "True Blood", is strangely wimpy here as Captain Von Trapp. A Maria with which he could have had chemistry with might have improved his performance. If you want a TV production that is satisfying and true to the source material, I suggest you find the version done for UK TV. It is available on DVD, but you need a region free player to watch it. Overall, that version is much more enjoyable than the noble, but failed attempt.
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on December 26, 2013
I loved the TV version of “The Sound of Music.” I am a diehard fan; the film version was the first film I saw in a movie theatre. The film is my favorite of all time. I think that the TV version was purposely based on the original stage musical instead of the film so that it would be different. I believe that was a smart move. I have seen the stage version several times including the 1990 Lincoln Center production with Debby Boone, high school productions, and regional theatre productions. I thought that Carrie Underwood did a great job with the role. I especially liked her musical scenes and dancing. She hit some great soprano notes in “Do Re Mi.” Her yodeling during “The Lonely Goatherd” was very effective. I thought she did a particularly good job in the scene where she is begging the Captain to pay more attention to his children. I am so pleased to have a visual and audio representation of the original stage musical that starred Mary Martin and Theodore Bikel. I thought that the TV cast and crew did a great job; the children were great in terms of singing, dancing, and acting. The director did a nice job, the sets were great, and the costumes were right on target. The orchestrations remained loyal to the original ones by Robert Russell Bennett. While live television was the norm back in the early days of television, prerecorded programs have become so much more prevalent in modern times. The production went extremely well with very few glitches. I recommend this DVD as part of every family’s musical collection. This does not replace the film version; both can be enjoyed in rotation.
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on January 12, 2014
I find it sad that there were narrow-minded meanies who actually proclaimed publicly on the internet (before the live show even aired) that it was going to be a flop, it could never hold a candle to the movie, Miss Underwood could never hold a candle to Miss Andrews, etc. After all that, Miss Underwood must have been terrified that night!

She had nothing to fear. It's true that Carrie isn't Julie. However, Julie isn't Carrie either. Each lady is unique and brought her own special talents to the role of Maria.

I loved the movie. Over the years I have probably seen it 30 times. But I don't think it's fair to compare the two. A movie and a live stage play are two completely different animals. My husband is a big fan of the movie as well. But we both sat and watched The Sound of Music Live (the entire three-hour show) and we were enthralled by this charming version.

It's almost staggering to me to think of all that must have gone into the production of this show. What a thrill it was to see it live. It was a malor accomplishment on every level. The sets were beautiful, the costumes were beautiful, and really every aspect of the production was excellent.

Those who say Miss Underwood can't act should watch the show again - I saw tears in her eyes a couple of times, real tears, and that is acting. She was marvelous in the role, charming, energetic, vivacious and fresh. Special kudos to the kids as well, all the kids were really terrific.

Audra McDonald as Mother Superior was simply stunning. I read recently that she, Angela Lansbury, and Julie Harris have each won 5 Tony awards as best actress, an unsurpassed record. When Miss McDonald sang "Climb Every Mountain" it was just breathtaking - and not only her fantastic voice, but her acting as well. I believe that in order to be successful in a musical, an actor must excel not only in singing but also in acting.

If I had to come up with any criticism of the show, I would have to say that I was disappointed that occasionally the music was so loud you almost couldn't hear the singer(s). Also, Maria's wedding dress didn't look to me like something Maria would have worn at her wedding, or any woman of the time would have worn.

All in all, a simply wonderful show, and one that I'll watch and rewatch once a year or so, just as I do the movie.
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Over the last decade, TV has become about serialized dramas and reality TV. That’s why NBC took a big risk with their recently aired The Sound of Music Live! It was a one night only performance of a classic stage musical. And it was aired live (well, on the East Coast). Plus it was family friendly entertainment. While this kind of thing used to be a staple of TV, it hasn’t been done in years. The gamble paid off ratings wise, and I enjoyed it as well.

Just in case you aren’t familiar with the musical, it tells the story of Maria (Carrie Underwood). She is planning to become a nun in 1930’s Austria, but she doesn’t quite fit in to the convent. The Mother Abbess (Audra McDonald) sends her to Captain Von Trapp (Stephen Moyer) to be the governess for his seven children. While she wins their heart, the captain is winning hers. But with Germany threatening to invade any day, does any of it matter?

Now before I go any further, there are some complaints I have seen about this musical that I need to set straight.

THIS WAS A FILMED VERSION OF THE STAGE MUSICAL. THIS WAS NOT A NEW VERSION OF THE MOVIE.

And yes, that is an important distinction and it comes into play in two important places.

The first is the music. The famous Julie Andrews movie rearranged a couple of the songs, added one, changed one, and took out two. This version stuck to the original stage play. That means Maria and Mother Abbess sing “My Favorite Things” before Maria leaves the convent and Maria sings “The Lonely Goatherd” to distract the kids during the lightning storm her first night with them. Additionally, you won’t see “I Have Confidence” at all. The only change from the movie they kept was the love song. The Captain and Maria sing “Something Good” instead of “An Ordinary Couple.” Honestly, neither of these songs rises to the level of the rest of the classics from this play, but I do prefer “Something Good” a bit more.

The other place the fact this is a play comes into production is the sets. This was filmed in a soundstage, so yes, the times when the characters are supposed to be outside look fake. But I expected that going into it. They didn’t spend a year in another country filming on location. They spent three hours filming the entire thing from start to finish. When you consider that, the sets look pretty good to me. Think of something you’d see for some sitcoms, and you’ll be fine. And honestly, when I’ve seen this play down before, Maria sings “The Sound of Music” with just a curtain behind her and we have to use our imagination to come up with the mountain she’s on. This is already a huge step ahead of that.

Can you tell I feel passionately about this? That’s because after being an extra in the party scene, I have long wanted someone to create a filmed version of the play. Yes, I love the Julie Andrews movie. I will always love the Julie Andrews movie. I consider it a classic. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t untouchable. That is how one group of people interpreted the story, but others can do it again. (Yes, it’s the play goer in me talking.) As I said, the original movie took out two songs, both of which I love, but this version put them back in the story. Both are fun, and they help develop Elsa and the Captain, which makes him a better love interest and us care a bit when he and Elsa break up. The reordered songs reveal different things about different characters. And the play is more grounded in the German/Austria politics of the time than the movie, which make the climax feel more like part of the story. Oh, and the play is also kinder to Rolf and Liesel at the end than the movie.

Of course, the movie shows a bit more of Maria and the Captain falling in love than the play does. It’s very little, but it does help. And the filming on location absolutely helps. While the dance numbers here are certainly fun (I was smiling as I watched them), they don’t compare to the ones from the movie because a movie used many more locations and inventive dance moves.

So let’s discuss the biggest weakness of this filmed play version of the story – Carrie Underwood. Those who criticize her acting are correct. I certainly found her watchable, and she seemed to relax as the play went forward, but she was stiff early on. Really, I would call it unpolished more than bad. Then again, others in the cast had their moments that seemed a bit awkward. For the most part, they were fine, however, and Stephen Moyer really impressed me with how he made the Captain so much more real than Christopher Plummer ever did. I can actually see why Maria would fall for him here.

Honestly, one thing that would have helped the actors is a live audience in the studio. There is nothing like a live audience to help bring a performance to life. I’ve found that with the little bit of skits and plays I’ve done. There are laugh lines in this play that fall flat no matter who says them without an audience to laugh at them. The energy of an audience makes a huge difference. While the cast did a good job, it could have been so much better with someone there to encourage the actors.

One place I can’t fault anyone is the musical numbers. All the classics you love are here, and they sound wonderful. If I didn’t know Carrie was a country singer, I’d never know it from this play – she lost all of her twang for the part. The choreography is fun, too.

So which is better? As I said, the Julie Andrews version is a classic, and this filmed play is not going to shake that at all. But that doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy this one, too. I plan to enjoy both for years to come depending on which one I am in the mood to watch. It’s nice to have a choice since I like both the stage version and the movie version of this story.

So sit down with an open mind and give the filmed play a chance. You just might find some new moments in The Sound of Music Live! that you’ll enjoy.
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on December 31, 2016
The Robert Wise movie has the stunning, sweeping visual grandeur of Salzburg, as well as the voices of Julie Andrews and Margery McKay (voice double for Peggy Wood's Mother Abbess character), but this new live production gets the nod from me because it has the two fabulous (and very well sung) Max-Elsa duets ("How Can Love Survive" and "No Way to Stop It") and Audra McDonald's voice and stage presence.

Robert Wise reportedly deleted the Max-Elsa duets because he wanted to focus on Maria and the kids, but these two songs not only have some of the best melodies and lyrics in the entire script, but they also foreshadow and then cleanly accomplish the Georg-Elsa breakup in a logical fashion. Their excision is arguably the Wise movie's most glaring fault.
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on December 22, 2013
This is one most people will probably either really love or hate... In my opinion, it was simple, lovely, and entertaining. Of course, Carrie is no Julie Andrews, she is herself... She plays the part with more naturalness and a sort of homespun charm. Stephen Moyer, the beyond-talented Audra McDonald, and two other Broadway veterans lend their amazing talents to this enterprise. And the fact the did it live-- Whew! I am in awe. Julie Andrews, herself, when interviewed by Ellen, lamented that she does not feel she could have done this live. And that's saying something coming from this most extraordinary human being and legend. This will become a beloved part of my collection along with the original 1965 movie version... Not as different as one might expect... I really do love it!
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on December 20, 2013
Only gave 4 stars because Carrie Underwood's acting and Stephen Moyer's singing could have been a bit better.

But in only a few scenes. The vast majority of this stupendous production was very well-done indeed. The choreography and stagecraft were flawless, and give Carrie credit for this: she brought all of her songs to life, had plenty of dancing and stage business, and never missed a beat. Her scenes with the children were delightful, and her initial scenes with the Captain were as awkward as one would expect them to be for the characters and the situation. Her dance scene with the Captain was perfect, and in that moment you could see the two fall in love.

This being the age of Twitter-bashing though, plenty of people found lots to carp about. Especially when it came to complaining about a superstar who made a courageous leap to a different medium...and succeeded.

I've always enjoyed the movie version because of the gorgeous scenery and the scenes with Maria and the children, even as I cringed through the scenes with Maria and the Captain. The Captain's upper-class banter with the Baroness and Max was always cringeworthy too.

But this version is vastly superior in my opinion, especially since the two marvelous songs "How Can Love Survive?" and "No Way to Stop It" were restored. Having Christian Borle and Laura Benanti as Max and Elsa was perfect casting indeed.

And as everyone will tell you, Audra McDonald was superb. Her Mother Abbess was lively, compassionate and inspiring, and her voice just soared.

Open your mind and heart, watch, and enjoy. This is a worthy addition to anyone's DVD collection.

Update 12-22-13:

The above review was based on the broadcast version, which I watched several times on NBC's website. I have now had the opportunity to watch the DVD, and while I am still amazed at the performance, I was a bit disappointed that NBC did not see fit to correct some of the sound problems (for example: a definite background hiss during some of the dialogue, and lost dialogue between Elsa and Max) and did nothing to ease the transition of the abrupt scene changes. One can only hope that a Blue-Ray version will be released sometime that will address these issues.
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on December 29, 2013
I always enjoyed Julie Andrews in this show and now the baton has passed to a new generation who has picked it up running full stride.

Nice job Carrie Underwood! You did your self proud!

Perfect part for you and you sang beautifully.

I loved all the kids and all the other characters as well.

I know Carrie will improve her stage techniques as she gains experience and begin to feel her lines more instead of just saying them, and she did as the show went on. But for the most part her performance was very believable and lovely.
It was a lovely show and I thoroughly enjoyed it and recommend it to all.

Good-O Carrie, glad I voted for you on Idol!

Steve
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