Taking a classic Broadway show and movie and recreating the story in front of a live television audience cannot be an easy task. Doing same in a world of social media and skeptics ready to pounce … well, that is probably as easy as climbing a mountain and attempting to escape the Nazis. As a whole, this particular The Sound of Music guru thought the production was impressive, the sets were spectacular, and the hard work of everybody involved was certainly evident.
Let’s start at the very beginning … The moment Audra McDonald opened her mouth when the production began, there was no question that the part of Mother Abbess could not have been better cast. This fact held true throughout the entire production, but we will get back to Mother Abbess later, because her rendition of “Climb Ev’ry Mountain” deserves a separate discussion.
Carrie Underwood entered the scene with the show’s title track, “The Sound of Music.” Swinging on trees and dancing on a hill, Carrie’s opening number was a shift from her typical country tune and proved to the masses watching that her talent extends far beyond the likes of one genre. As soon as the songstress returned from her sinful spin on the hills, we were blessed with a duet by nuns, Carrie and Audra, of “My Favorite Things.” The two performed the track in a way that The Sound of Music movie buffs did not expect, but was flawlessly and perfectly on point with the original stage show.
Enter Stephen Moyer and the seven von Trapp children … Though the entire three hours was spent waiting for Stephen Moyer, as Captain Georg von Trapp, to bite someone’s neck, the demeanor and decorum exuded by Stephen was reminiscent of the legacy the Captain left behind. The seven children cast as the von Trapps cannot be forgotten, as they accomplished something that has not been done in their lifetimes (or ours for that matter) on television. The actors and actresses cast as Liesl, Friedrich, Louisa, Kurt, Brigitta, Marta, and Gretl were charming, endearing, and undeniably talented. Did you hear Kurt’s “goodbyyye” note at the end of his part of “So Long, Farewell?!” One of the more impressive Carrie scenes with the children was during “Lonely Goatherd,” when Maria attempted to calm the children during a thunderstorm. While Carrie is used to moving around on a stage while singing, this was at a whole new level. There was running around, there were spots to hit, there was jumping on the bed, and there was yodeling simultaneously. Oh, and it was flawless yodeling at that.
Rounding out the cast were Christian Borle as Uncle Max, Laura Benanti as Elsa, and Michael Campayno as Rolf. Let’s all agree on one thing (because, based on Twitter, it is clear that we are going to disagree on certain aspects of this three hour musical event) – Christian Borle and Laura Benanti have Broadway skills and they know how to use them. The two stole every scene they were in, know how to own a theater stage (even one that was enormous compared to a typical show), and are true professionals in their crafts.
Perhaps the most exquisite scene of the entire night was Audra McDonald as Mother Abbess singing the infamous “Climb Ev’ry Mountain.” The song is, possibly, one of the least discussed of the soundtrack typically, as it lacks the fun of most of the music in the original score. However, it is without question that the song requires a special kind of talent which is rare, indeed. Last night, this scene, between Audra’s impeccable vocals and raw emotion, as well as the look in Carrie’s eyes, was a showstopper and, if naysayers want to rant about their disdain for the production, they should eliminate this moment from their generalized negativity.
Overall, it is only fair to give credit where it is due. The preparation for such a monstrosity of a production must have been grueling. The pressure on the cast — old, young, seasoned, and amateur — had to have been extreme. The skepticism from the first announcement of the intention to produce this show was, undoubtedly, rampant. The cast, the crew, the orchestra, and everyone else who participated in making this dream a reality, deserve a standing ovation for conquering a feat that few could … especially for doing so under a microscope.
This The Sound of Music self-proclaimed snob is of the opinion that the cast was wisely selected and that each person in their respective roles brought something unique and necessary to the table. The stage production (which, let’s recap one more time, was LIVE!) paid great homage to the original Broadway show, the award-winning classic film, and the real-life family that has become a part of this world’s history.
Brava, cast and crew! Brava!
That’s a wrap!