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"The Sound of Music" Live on TV


WilliamM
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I am not a big fan of "The Sound of Music," but I did see the early 1960s stage version with Mary Martin when I was a teenager. The stage version, not the film version, is being performed live tonight (Dec. 5) on NBC. I have always liked the stage version better. Several of the most interesting songs were not included in the film. Most important, the set-up for several of Maria's song was more effective on stage.

 

The film did clarify the story, the location scenes were great, and Julie Andrews was younger, the right age, making the story more realistic. (I should write, after all these years later, that Mary Martin was Larry Hagman's mother, best know as the original Broadway star of "South Paciific" and "Peter Pan" as well as "The Sound of Music." She was also a major television star in the 1950s.)

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Sorry I should have mentioned the cast. Carrie Underwood is playing Maria. In the early days of TV most, if not all, specials were broadcast live, but I do not think anyone ever got sick or feel over a peice if scenery. But, something tells me it must have happened, especially live. Great statement/question foxy.

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I am not a big fan of "The Sound of Music," but I did see the early 1960s stage version with Mary Martin when I was a teenager. The stage version, not the film version, is being performed live tonight (Dec. 5) on NBC. I have always liked the stage version better. Several of the most interesting songs were not included in the film. Most important, the set-up for several of Maria's song was more effective on stage.

 

The film did clarify the story, the location scenes were great, and Julie Andrews was younger, the right age, making the story more realistic. (I should write, after all these years later, that Mary Martin was Larry Hagman's mother, best know as the original Broadway star of "South Paciific" and "Peter Pan" as well as "The Sound of Music." She was also a major television star in the 1950s.)

 

The stage version of "The Sound of Music" is much better than the film version. I am a big fan of the Baroness's 2 songs, for instance, "No Way To Stop It" and "How Can Love Survive", which were cut from the film. I also like the way "My Favorite Things" is sung by Maria and the Abbess rather than by the children, and "Lonely Goatherd" is the song she sings with the kids during the thunderstorm without that stupid marionette stuff they did in the movie. I was never a fan of the overblown "I Have Confidence" number Andrews performed in the film and I'm glad that's not in the stage version.

 

I played Kurt in a touring production in the early 60s and even at that age, I recognized what an effect the show had on audiences. It always, always, always worked. When the 7 of us launched into "Do Re Mi", you could feel the audience succumbing to the corn, sentiment, energy and story within that 1 song. Even hardened cynics fell in love with us, it, and the music.

 

I adored Mary Martin. I saw her and Robert Preston in "I Do! I Do!" on Broadway and even at my young age, their performances became indelible in my memory. Martin was a very good comedienne and her fake stripteaase during "Flaming Agnes" brought the house down. There used to be a clip on You Tube of her singing "Cockeyed Optimist" in the London production of "South Pacific" - it's a grainy black and white film but the sound and image are pretty good. Even in that 1 song, you can why she enchanted audiences. How I would have loved to live during the Golden Age of B'way musical stars such as Martin, Merman and Gertrude Lawrence.

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The stage version of "The Sound of Music" is much better than the film version. I am a big fan of the Baroness's 2 songs, for instance, "No Way To Stop It" and "How Can Love Survive", which were cut from the film. I also like the way "My Favorite Things" is sung by Maria and the Abbess rather than by the children, and "Lonely Goatherd" is the song she sings with the kids during the thunderstorm without that stupid marionette stuff they did in the movie. I was never a fan of the overblown "I Have Confidence" number Andrews performed in the film and I'm glad that's not in the stage version.

 

I would say I'm a fan of the stage score (and how the songs are used as opposed to the changes made for the film) though in some ways I think the film improved on the scenework (I haven't seen the film in a while, so I'm not going to give specifics). Part of the problem with the original book is that Hammerstein was too sick with cancer to write it - and I would expect that *had* he been able to write it, it would have been sharper and edgier than what Lindsay and Crouse came up with.

 

I have never liked either of Rodgers' additions to the film score (and remember he wrote the lyrics to "I Have Confidence" and "Something Good" because Hammerstein had passed away by this point). "Confidence" *did* work for Andrews' take on the character, though, and it works as a "crossover" scene in the film quite well - but no, it has no place or purpose in the stage show. Most people tend not to like the original duet in the stage version for Maria and Von Trapp ("An Ordinary Couple") - though I confess I love the song. I find its film replacement ("Something Good") to just be too saccharine - the lyric feels to me like Rodgers was trying too hard to "ape" Hammerstein's writing style, but without much success. And for me, the song comes down to dwelling on the difference between "youth" and "childhood," and I don't get what the heck that has to do with the moment shared between these two characters at this moment. :p

 

And, in terms of the storm scene, the stage play indeed makes a much stronger choice. Here, Maria chooses to get the kids to sing the rousing, loud "Lonely Goatherd" song to beat the storm. (She says, "maybe if we all sing loud enough, we won't hear the thunder.") In the film, we get the more precious idea of "let's all think of our favorite things and maybe we'll forget about the storm" (not sure what the line really is, but that's the intention). Personally, the action of singing this funny, raucous song to compete with the storm makes much more sense than the more hallmark-y "just think of your favorite things." ALSO, giving "My Favorite Things" to Maria and Mother Abbess not only strengthens what we see of their relationship, but it adds to the dimension of the Abbess' character.

 

And yes, taking the song away from Maria and the Abbess and putting it in the storm scene means that "Goatherd" no longer had a real function in the plot - so it became that marionette show thing in the film - which admittedly is fun, but it's absolutely superfluous.

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Not too long after the film version came out I found myself in Salzburg and took a few tours around the town and countryside. Every tour guide would say "and this is where Julie Andrews sang or walked in the film" I kept thinking is this what Salzburg has been reduced to? What about Mozart?

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The stage version of "The Sound of Music" is much better than the film version. I am a big fan of the Baroness's 2 songs, for instance, "No Way To Stop It" and "How Can Love Survive", which were cut from the film. I also like the way "My Favorite Things" is sung by Maria and the Abbess rather than by the children, and "Lonely Goatherd" is the song she sings with the kids during the thunderstorm without that stupid marionette stuff they did in the movie. I was never a fan of the overblown "I Have Confidence" number Andrews performed in the film and I'm glad that's not in the stage version.

 

I played Kurt in a touring production in the early 60s and even at that age, I recognized what an effect the show had on audiences. It always, always, always worked. When the 7 of us launched into "Do Re Mi", you could feel the audience succumbing to the corn, sentiment, energy and story within that 1 song. Even hardened cynics fell in love with us, it, and the music.

 

I adored Mary Martin. I saw her and Robert Preston in "I Do! I Do!" on Broadway and even at my young age, their performances became indelible in my memory. Martin was a very good comedienne and her fake stripteaase during "Flaming Agnes" brought the house down. There used to be a clip on You Tube of her singing "Cockeyed Optimist" in the London production of "South Pacific" - it's a grainy black and white film but the sound and image are pretty good. Even in that 1 song, you can why she enchanted audiences. How I would have loved to live during the Golden Age of B'way musical stars such as Martin, Merman and Gertrude Lawrence.

 

+1 Actor61 -- I saw the original Sound of Music with Mary Martin; my grandparents introduced us to Broadway shows. This TV production has some plusses but also a few minuses; still I am very glad for the restoration of the original songs (and I agree of getting rid of "I have Confidence".

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Out of curiosity, last night I went to iTunes and listened to a few tracks. Audra McDonald is just such a FORCE that I wouldn't want to appear on the same stage. I'm not trying to "diss" anyone else, but...DAYUM.

T

 

She has an amazing Broadway voice and surprising is excellent casting for the Mother Abbess.

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[quote=bostonman;883256

 

 

And, in terms of the storm scene, the stage play indeed makes a much stronger choice. Here, Maria chooses to get the kids to sing the rousing, loud "Lonely Goatherd" song to beat the storm. (She says, "maybe if we all sing loud enough, we won't hear the thunder.") In the film, we get the more precious idea of "let's all think of our favorite things and maybe we'll forget about the storm" (not sure what the line really is, but that's the intention). Personally, the action of singing this funny, raucous song to compete with the storm makes much more sense than the more hallmark-y "just think of your favorite things." ALSO, giving "My Favorite Things" to Maria and Mother Abbess not only strengthens what we see of their relationship, but it adds to the dimension of the Abbess' character.

 

And yes, taking the song away from Maria and the Abbess and putting it in the storm scene means that "Goatherd" no longer had a real function in the plot - so it became that marionette show thing in the film - which admittedly is fun, but it's absolutely superfluous.

From an interpretative perspective, the storm representing the pending war and German invasion, is frightening to the children but Maria tells them if they sing loud, (raise their voices against the storm), they will be able to drown out the storm. Choosing "Goatherd" goes more with the feeling of the isolated family standing up against the Germans by raising their voice. My Favorite Things would more represent a turn a blind eye to the upcoming storm, think of something pleasant and it will go away. I prefer the stage version, as it fits better with the themes of the show than the movie version. I must admit that one time during the performance I was startled when Carrie Underwood came out, for some reason, though we were halfway through the show, I expected Julie Andrews to come out as Maria.

I have never seen a purplekow :)

I hope I never see one ;)

But I can tell you this and how I would rather see than be one :D

 

Help there is a purplekow in my mirror :eek:

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From an interpretative perspective, the storm representing the pending war and German invasion, is frightening to the children but Maria tells them if they sing loud, (raise their voices against the storm), they will be able to drown out the storm. Choosing "Goatherd" goes more with the feeling of the isolated family standing up against the Germans by raising their voice. My Favorite Things would more represent a turn a blind eye to the upcoming storm, think of something pleasant and it will go away. I prefer the stage version, as it fits better with the themes of the show than the movie version.

 

Interesting, but I tend to think you might be overanalyzing the song. Just going by what's in the text, it doesn't seem to me that Maria (at this early point in the show) is even all that aware of the pending political climate. And the children aren't either.

 

Besides, there ARE songs in the show that are purposely brought back in reprises to show their connection to the conflict - most notably "So Long Farewell" (which goes from an innocent bit of "entertainment" by the kids at the party to an ironic, dark song at the concert which portends that the family will never see their father again) and "Climb Every Mountain" (which goes from a metaphorical song of advice and inspiration to its more literal use at the end of the show as the family escapes by the mountain route). "Goatherd," however, is not heard again in a like context. (It does appear again right at the top of Act II, but just as a game between Max and the children.)

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I just finished watching the live broadcast of "Sound of Music" and my only reaction is Holy Shit! Carrie Underwood gave a just barely adequate high school level performance. The woman just plain can't act and I felt sorry for the other very, very good actors working with her. No, that's not the right way to put it because there just wasn't anything to "work" WITH! The voice was good - but my heavens, the woman is a dead stick. Dreadful, dreadful, dreadful.

 

As a child, I played Kurt in several tours of the show with several B'way divas of the time (not Mary Martin, alas). They each had spark and fire and comedy and life and energy and a sense of place and time but this poor Underwood creature had....nothing. Who EVER thought she was good casting in this role? My God, there are other ingenues out there well known enough to have played it - why didn't they find one of THEM?

 

The other principals were pretty wonderful and I particularly enjoyed Christian Borles' take on Max. It can be a nothing part in the wrong hands. Benanti, as always, was wonderful and MacDonald, as always, was sublime. Moyer was a good Captain and would have been even better if he'd had something other than a walking braid to talk to Holy crap, she was AWFUL!

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Another vote AGAINST the choice of Carrie Underwood. I was not at all impressed with her voice, and her character was so one-dimensional and saccharine that I found myself wishing I could fast-forward through her major speaking parts (and singing). I was pleasantly surprised at how well Moyer pulled off the role of the Captain (almost wished from his role on True Blood he would rip off the uniform and show some of his "inner self"... oops... typecasting). The interplay between the characters of Max and the Baroness was better here than I have seen in other versions.

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Not having seen the show in eons, I enjoyed it but decided half way through that Carrie Underwood, while not bad, was the weak link in the cast. I thought that she sounded fine at first. However, there was no progression in her character and from a vocal point of view there should have been a sort of maturation as well. The end result was that she seemed not to be quite the perfect fit the role... at least by the end. Still, she was enjoyable... I was totally blown away by the Mother Abbess.

IMG_0933_Sig_crop_46x20.jpg "Take it like a man!"
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I also enjoyed the evening. Ms. Underwood was indeed the weak link, but her singing was strong, and I don't think she's ever claimed to be an actress. And without a singer of her level of popularity, they never would have attempted this. Plus, I have to give her major props for doing it live. I believe it's the first LIVE musical presented on TV since Peter Pan.

 

The supporting cast was terrific, nice to see these Broadway faces in my living room. I thought Audra McDonald was great as the Mother Abbess, supported by Christiane Noll and Jessica Molasky. And Christian Borle and Laura Benanti were terrific as Max and Elsa. So glad to have their songs back in the show. And even Christine Neilson as the housekeeper managed to steal a scene or two.

 

I found it a nice, quiet evening to work on Christmas stuff in front of the tube. And on that subject, I hope everyone here has a happy, healthy holiday season.

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I also enjoyed the evening. Ms. Underwood was indeed the weak link, but her singing was strong, and I don't think she's ever claimed to be an actress. And without a singer of her level of popularity, they never would have attempted this. Plus, I have to give her major props for doing it live. I believe it's the first LIVE musical presented on TV since Peter Pan.

 

The supporting cast was terrific, nice to see these Broadway faces in my living room. I thought Audra McDonald was great as the Mother Abbess, supported by Christiane Noll and Jessica Molasky. And Christian Borle and Laura Benanti were terrific as Max and Elsa. So glad to have their songs back in the show. And even Christine Neilson as the housekeeper managed to steal a scene or two.

 

I found it a nice, quiet evening to work on Christmas stuff in front of the tube. And on that subject, I hope everyone here has a happy, healthy holiday season.

 

I agree with almost everything you wrote, with the exception of Audra McDonald. I thought she seemed distracted in her acting scenes, but her singing was glorious. Above all, it was great to see the Broadway version with so many Broadway performers on live television. So many people have only seen the film.

 

The success of "Peter Pan" in March, 1955 led to other live television plays and musicals. For example, "The Skin of Our Teeth" and a musical version of "Our Town" with Sinatra, Paul Newman and Eva Marie Saint later in 1955 as well as "Cinderella" and "Annie Get Your Gun" in 1957. And "Peter Pan" was broadcast again live in 1956. I suspect there were several others as well that I can not remember. I believe "Lady in the Dark" and "Born Yesterday" were before "Peter Pan."

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Out to those who viewed last night's live production....There was so much hype given to this show because it was being performed "live", giving you the sense of a Broadway show, but did it really make a difference? Were viewers actually hoping (like Foxy) that something would go wrong? Such suspense!

 

At the end of last night's program, they did a very creative comparison to the rehearsals and the live show. To me, it appeared the actors were more relaxed and having some fun during the rehearsals than they were during the "live" performance.

 

Did anyone else notice a slight humming noise during the show, not during the commercials? I was viewing it in surround sound and could hear it.

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I listened in stereo (not surround) with two descrete speakers... And the stereo separation during commercials was more pronounced. Also, in some scenes the voices seemed to come from the wrong speaker... For example, in one scene the Baron was stage left and his voice was coming from the right speaker. Perhaps it was the fault of the local broadcast???

IMG_0933_Sig_crop_46x20.jpg "Take it like a man!"
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I was wondering about the sound especially as the show went on, it got worse and worse on my TV -- last hour or so it was as if it was "muffled" or being somehow blocked. I had to continually turn up the sound just to hear the dialogue and then quickly turn it down for the music parts. I thought it was my TV but I had no issues with other channels.

 

In the end, "The Sound of Music" is one of those quintessential Broadway musicals of the period when Broadway musicals were a major force in US culture (Rogers and Hammerstein mastered the art of addressing in their librettos some of the deepest social issues of the period: racism, interracial love (South Pacific, Flower Drum Song, King and I), economic inequality (Carousel, Oklahoma), Totalitarianism (Sound of Music, albeit after the war, to a minor extent in The King and I), classism (The King and I, Cinderella, Oklahoma), domestic abuse (Carousel)... Their shows introduced to a wide audience these subtle but strong themes through memorable dialogue, wit, and above all great musicality.

 

Oh, and this just came out on the internet - the heirs of the Von Trapp family had their own misgivings on the casting - and they had their own hoped for star to play the role of their great-grandmother, Maria....

 

http://gma.yahoo.com/blogs/abc-blogs/von-trapps-wish-could-replace-carrie-underwood-39-212057999--abc-news-celebrities.html

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There are clips on You Tube of Florence Henderson, Shirley Jones and even Mary Martin singing "The Sound of Music". Listen to them and then compare their versions to what Ms. Underwood did last night and you'll understand how lovely the show can be when in the right hands. I don't think Julie Andrews was definitive in the movie, as fine as she was. For me, Florence Henderson in the first National Tour was the best Maria in the history of the show. She was feisty, funny, tomboyish in the first act, very feminine and maternal in the second, sang like a bird, had a wonderful genuine rapport with the kids and just carried the show on her tiny shoulders with no effort at all. I also saw Barbara Meister in the role, and she was likewise superb.

 

My quibble with the producers who are bringing us these t.v. revivals of B'way musicals is their insistence on star casting, even when the stars are just wrong for the roles. Bette Middler was okay as Mama Rose in "Gypsy", but Kathy Bates was boring as Miss Hannigan (that's an accomplishment in itself!), Matthew Broderick was deadwood in "The Music Man", and the entire cast of "Bye, Bye, Birdie" should be forgotten as quickly as possible. What was Tyne Daly THINKING??? I'm glad they use Audra MacDonald as often as they do - she was Grace in "Annie" and a terrific Mother Abbess in last night's disaster. And they should find a vehicle for Laura Benanti as quickly as possible. How about "Mame"? Someone on another foum suggested Anne Hathaway as a better choice of star casting for Maria last night. I'm not a Hathaway fan but I think she would have been an infinitely better than their choice of Carrie Underwood.

 

You can't blame somebody for lack of talent, and Underwood is not without a lot of talent in her genre but B'way musicals is just not in her arsenal. I lay the blame at the people who produce and direct these things. They're not morons. They must have known from the first rehearsal that she was going to be terrible. Is she really that popular that even a bad performance would guarantee good ratings? I've never watched American Idol or any of the Country Music Awards shows, etc., so I'm not that familiar with her. And based on what she did last night, I'm going to keep it that way.

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