Thursday evening I watched The Sound of Music for the first time. Unlike many, I was not brought into the fold by the 1965 film starring Julie Andrews and Christopher Plummer – nor was I alive to see any of the original stage productions in the 1950’s and 1960’s. Although many people my age (27) have seen the musical many times on television, I somehow missed the oft-played film until this very year when NBC decided to recreate the Broadway production with a live broadcast.
My current lineup of television channels includes only the basic set of channels (ABC, NBC, CBS, and FOX), one T.V. “classics” channel, and my local PBS station. Normally I may have asked myself if there was anything else airing Tuesday between 8 EST and 11 EST, but I figured this was a chance to join the ranks of the many who have seen the musical. Also, my girlfriend, who acted out the ’65 film as a child and still raves about it to this day, was wholly on board with the broadcast. So, who better to step into the Sound of Music world with than a passionate veteran?
I approached NBC’s The Sound of Music with slight apprehension. That soon faded away, however, as I became caught up in the story and songs. Underwood’s voice filled my old television’s speakers with notes quite crisp and captivating. The plot, as well, immediately drew me in and made me consistently try to predict what would come next.
My partner beside me singing on and off, in between sips of hot coffee, encouraged my attentiveness. She knew, right off, the differences between this adaptation and the film she so loves, and did not hesitate to point out each anomaly as they occured. I welcomed her perspective throughout; it provided me with an insight into the history of the musical as we made our way through the current production.
As a whole, the storyline was excellent. The transition from scene to scene — not including the commercial breaks — felt seamless. The production exuded an air of being previously recorded, perhaps a feat for a live production. Camera and audio crews caputured each scene as professionals should. The left no part uncaptured. No voices went unheard.
Underwood’s portrayal of Maria von Trapp was captivating when she was singing, yet parts of her acting left something desired. Similarly, Stephen Moyer’s part as Captain Georg von Trapp was not without its faults. His singing could have been more forceful at times.
The choreography in some scenes — such as when the von Trapp children sang with Maria in her bedroom during the lightning storm — caused the actors to end up in precarious positions. During the storm, for instance, the children hide, and then pop out from, under Maria’s bed while all of them sing “The Lonely Goatherd.” The children could sing well, but their face-down positions in that instance did not flatter their voices.
I cannot criticize the adaptation too heavily. The work drew largely, I later learned, from the original Broadway productions and less from the ’65 film. Underwood is a country music singer/songwriter. And Moyer, though he was trained in classical theater, focuses mostly on roles in television and film.
The show was good enough to leave several songs in my head for the 18-hour duration following the production and my writing this review. I would be happy to watch it again, and I look forward to the day when I can finally witness Andrews and Plummer do proper justice to their respective roles.