Maria, what is it you cannot face?
December 6, 2013 8:21 AM   Subscribe

Last night, for the first time since the 1955 broadcast of "Peter Pan", the NBC television network aired a live performance of "The Sound of Music".

How 'The Sound of Music' Went From Stage to Screen to NBC Special

Some people seem to have been confused that the version performed last night, starring American Idol winner Carrie Underwood, was actually the original stage production and not the movie.

Hollywood Reporter review: Because while Underwood can deliver the songs — I’m sure that anyone with the desire to plunge themselves into the American Idol ringer has been singing those songs for most of her life — she doesn’t acquit herself so well when it comes to the carrying the emotional weight of the production. And perhaps it was unfair to ask so much of Underwood, to have to make Maria’s journey in three scant hours — where Andrews had weeks of production — while enduring costume changes and remembering choreography and trying not to look at the prompter and not step on anyone’s lines or feet. Underwood nails the look of a virginal almost-nun, but goes no deeper than that. Blank stares and placid smiles.

A.V. Club: Unsurprisingly, it turns out that people who perform in musical theatre for a living are pretty good at musical theatre.

Daily Beast: The Harsh Sound of Music: Was Carrie Underwood a good Maria? No. Was NBC's decision to do a live staging of 'The Sound of Music' a good one? Maybe not. Was it fun anyway? Actually, kinda.

EW: Ranking the songs of "The Sound of Music" (both versions!)

NPR blog: That's a hard song to sing when millions of people are watching you, many of them want you to fail, it involves yodeling, and you're doing parts of it lying on your belly on a bed. She's not untalented as a singer, whether her style is your thing or not.

This is what happened to the original movie cast

DiGiorno Pizza's social media team live-tweeted the show.
posted by roomthreeseventeen (311 comments total) 11 users marked this as a favorite

 
It's so funny to see young people say "ooh, wow, a live performance on TV!" when in fact, this was pretty common before the 1960s. Glad to know the old fogies did something right.
posted by Melismata at 8:24 AM on December 6, 2013 [6 favorites]


I actually know a guy who was on the sound team for this! I didn't see the show, but greatly appreciated a picture on his facebook feed, with himself and the other 8 people in the sound team, all in black, champagne flutes in hand and huge grins all posing around the bed.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:32 AM on December 6, 2013 [2 favorites]


My facebook newsfeed is lit up this morning with people outraged that NBC would dare, DARE! to air such a travesty and it's the harbinger of the End Times. Or something like that, I'm not paying close attention.

I was only able to catch the last 15 minutes. It seemed a little wooden but not worthy of the vitriol it seems to be inspiring in my peers.

Who saw it? What did you think?
posted by djeo at 8:33 AM on December 6, 2013


Oh good lord, it was horrible. Carrie Underwood was a terrible choice for Maria.

From a technical standpoint, she did fine. But she sounded like an automaton. There was no nuance, no emotion, no believability behind anything she was singing. She just belted out the lyrics, and it was awful to watch.

Singers who audition for the various reality "make you a star" shows often have this problem, and it's why they're often eliminated quickly. They get up in front of the judges and sing, and perhaps they sing every note and in time and on key... but their performances have no soul. You watch them and they haven't convinced you that they're in love, or experiencing heartbreak, or just put their dog to sleep. Etc. The better singers, the ones that go on to do well on those shows, are usually very good at making the audience believe what they're singing about. Aiken. Clarkson. Etc.

Which is ironic, considering that Underwood got her start through American Idol.
posted by zarq at 8:34 AM on December 6, 2013 [4 favorites]


I loved everything except for Underwood and Moyer, who I thought were both terrible, for what it's worth. Well, and the fact that poor Rolf looked like he was 40 and never got a proper pair of pants.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 8:35 AM on December 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


My wife watched it. I wandered in, said "Wow, swastika banners on TV -- haven't seen that in years" and wandered out. The singing I could hear down the hall was nice, but the male actors were…well, why did the slick impressario have to look so much like Dr. House?

We agreed that Carrie Underwood has a great singing voice and is very enthusiastic,but not the best actress (as noted already).

I am loving the notion of live performances, though.
posted by wenestvedt at 8:36 AM on December 6, 2013


Carrie Underwood was awful, awful, when she wasn't signing. Awful. So goddamn awful.

My wife watched it because she's into musicals. I watched it with her mostly so I could follow along with the live tweets people were doing. I'm pretty sure that is how networks are going to pick projects in the future. "We need a potential train wreck that people will tweet about!"

Oh god she was awful.
posted by bondcliff at 8:37 AM on December 6, 2013


wenestvedt: I am loving the notion of live performances, though.

Yeah, me too. I am thinking that's why I'm not all up in arms. I want performances like this to succeed.
posted by djeo at 8:38 AM on December 6, 2013 [7 favorites]


Bringing back musicals to television is awesome.

When A Baldwin Brother did "South Pacific" with Reba on PBS some years ago I was hopeful that we would see more revivals done that way, but so far I have been disappointed.
posted by wenestvedt at 8:38 AM on December 6, 2013


I am loving the notion of live performances, though.

That's it -- I'm watching the performance clips this morning online and Carrie has a fabulous voice but does almost every song like an aggressive schoolmistress and makes it look like work when it should look effortless, but you know what? It's live! I would love more creative programming options like this, so I am loathe to complain.

fwiw, I was a nun in a local production of this years ago. The biggest complaint was the song order, even though we followed the Broadway order.
posted by mochapickle at 8:39 AM on December 6, 2013


Inviting a comparison to Julie Andrews in her prime is ambitious. Maybe Beyonce could pull it off. Still I admire her spunk at making the attempt.
posted by bukvich at 8:40 AM on December 6, 2013 [7 favorites]


I totally watched this last night and really enjoyed it. I was impressed that Underwood carried off three hours of live singing, and wasn't really upset that her acting wasn't on par with Julie Andrews. She carried the load, I thought. I was sadder about the casting of True Blood's Stephen Moyer in Christopher Plummer's role, to be honest. I mean, unlike Underwood, he acts for a living, and while the role calls for him to be a bit stiff, I thought he came off worse than Underwood in the cardboard cutout category.

Hey, three hours of live television that wasn't an award show or SNL. That was pretty cool. I loved some of the scenery transitions they did; I really thought that side of things was brilliant.
posted by onlyconnect at 8:41 AM on December 6, 2013 [6 favorites]


We watched it and thoroughly enjoyed it. Live television is such a rare thing today, and for a major network to give it an entire prime-time evening is just wonderful. I thought Carrie Underwood did perfectly fine, and the staging and camerawork seemed top-notch and old-school.

Of course, once the first commercial hit it was clear that it was all a stealth ad for the new Tom Cruise movie, which dampened our spirits a bit. But not that much.

Also: Any chance you get to see Audra McDonald perform is a good thing.
posted by jbickers at 8:42 AM on December 6, 2013


Yeah, I should add I'm totally in favor of live TV of any kind. The live 30 Rock episodes were some of the best.
posted by bondcliff at 8:42 AM on December 6, 2013


This explains Facebook and the Twitters last night. Somehow in 49 years I've manage to avoid every seeing that movie. I'm a big fan of Robert Wise and love his West Side Story but just can't bring myself to watch it. My elementary school music teacher was obsessed with the soundtrack and I can't hear Do-Re-Mi without having flashbacks (*shudder*).
posted by octothorpe at 8:42 AM on December 6, 2013


Of course, once the first commercial hit it was clear that it was all a stealth ad for the new Tom Cruise movie, which dampened our spirits a bit.

Does it help any that it's a Tom Hanks movie?
posted by Etrigan at 8:43 AM on December 6, 2013 [6 favorites]


It just didn't seem all that live to me. I found Laura Benanti fun to watch; Carrie Underwood, not so much. And I kept thinking that the costume and the wig designers must have really disliked her. But mostly just - not very live.
posted by still_wears_a_hat at 8:45 AM on December 6, 2013


Love the title!
posted by dr_dank at 8:48 AM on December 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


It's not that I'm up in arms - I think it's fantastic that live musical theater, televised or otherwise, is getting this much attention.

What gets to me is that I thought Carrie Underwood was not good. Not just "not as good as Julie Andrews." What some of those reviews touch on a little bit is that musical theater is its own skill set. People train for years to be able to do this stuff, which is part of why Audra McDonald and Laura Benanti were so fabulous. Carrie Underwood has a nice pop voice - that's her field. But she was really struggling vocally and artistically with this material. It just felt like such a missed opportunity to hear a really great musical theater performance, one above the level of "I guess that wasn't SO bad."

Then again, the whole thing probably wouldn't have happened if someone real-world famous weren't there to headline, which is a different issue. (Maybe that reality is what I cannot, indeed can't, face.)
posted by fast ein Maedchen at 8:52 AM on December 6, 2013 [5 favorites]


Love the title!

About 10 seconds after she said it, at least 10 of my friends posted to social media (including myself) things to the effect of, "That's not the line, Audra."
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 8:52 AM on December 6, 2013 [4 favorites]


I'm also in the minority. I didn't think Underwood's performance was very good, but I didn't consider it shameful or embarrassing either. I was glad to see her and the network take a chance, because I'd rather see things a bit more varied and experimental even if the results aren't always stellar. It wasn't Julie Andrews, in a defining role, no. But it was better than the Real Housewives of Duck Storage Dynasty.
posted by tyllwin at 8:53 AM on December 6, 2013 [4 favorites]


If Carrie Underwood were any more wooden, she would be perfect as one of the puppets in The Lonely Goatherd.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 8:56 AM on December 6, 2013 [3 favorites]


Gee, I didn't think Underwood was struggling vocally at all, except maybe when she was running around with the kids and trying to sing at the same time, and even that I though she did great. I thought she could have been better at acting -- showing some of the nuances of emotion that Andrews expressed -- but I didn't think she was bad. She reminded me a little of Whitney Houston's transition to acting. In general, I was impressed.
posted by onlyconnect at 8:57 AM on December 6, 2013 [2 favorites]


I think we may see more of this kind of thing. A live event offers something that can't be replicated on Netflix and people are more likely to watch commercials when there is a live event.

Is a live Cabaret too much to hope for?
posted by Area Man at 8:57 AM on December 6, 2013 [8 favorites]


fast ein Maedchen: " Then again, the whole thing probably wouldn't have happened if someone real-world famous weren't there to headline, which is a different issue."

They could have cast someone with a background in musical theater. Like Taylor Swift or Amy Adams. Heck, they cast Audra McDonald as an Austrian nun, why not go all out and cast Jennifer Hudson?
posted by zarq at 8:57 AM on December 6, 2013 [14 favorites]


Or heck, Kristin Bell. Bell has a marvelous singing voice, and she was excellent in Frozen.
posted by zarq at 8:59 AM on December 6, 2013 [8 favorites]


OMG I would have loved Jennifer Hudson as Maria. She's amazing. They should do it every year with a different cast.
posted by mochapickle at 8:59 AM on December 6, 2013 [16 favorites]


Live musicals on TV - Yes, yes, yes, a million times yes! That's one of the tings TV was MADE for! It's one of the things that made TV the special social bonding tool it;s historically been! Let's keep doing that!

Stunt-casting performers so enormously grossly unqualified that I'd laugh if it wasn't physically painful to listen and watch, made all the more obvious in comparison to the people with whom they're sharing the stage, in the lead roles, while qualified artists who could blow the audience away and make them clamor for more such programs on a regular basis starve in the street? Let's have a bit less of that.

I'm not comparing Underwood's performance to Julie Andrews's, becase a movie and a stage show are two different animals. Underwood does not have what it takes to perform in either a stage OR movie musical. Not yet, anyway, and certainly not in a featured role. If I had been producing this piece, and felt I HAD to include her, I MIGHT have cast her as one of the older daughters, or maybe one of the soloist nuns.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 9:00 AM on December 6, 2013 [3 favorites]


mochapickle: " They should do it every year with a different cast."

Oh, that would be BRILLIANT!
posted by zarq at 9:01 AM on December 6, 2013 [7 favorites]


Is a live Cabaret too much to hope for?


ALAN CUMMING
ALAN CUMMING
ALAN CUMMING




Sorry, I think I sort of blacked out there for a second- does anyone else taste pennies?
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 9:01 AM on December 6, 2013 [24 favorites]


mochapickle: They should do it every year with a different cast.

That's a really neat idea, and I think would generate significant buzz as they went into casting and rehearsals and what not. You could even have a series of "The Making of SOM" specials in the couple of weeks leading up to the broadcast. It would also be great to have different production designers/directors/choreographers/etc every year to change up the look and feel of the show along with the cast.
posted by Rock Steady at 9:02 AM on December 6, 2013 [4 favorites]


TheWhiteSkull: " ALAN CUMMING"

He'd be incredible, too.

Do you think he'd be able to break away from trying to keep Mr. Big's pants in check on The Good Wife? :)
posted by zarq at 9:02 AM on December 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


Or they could just rotate existing cast members so we'd get Audra's Maria, Carrie's Liesl, the Rolf kid singing the Captain (he sounded GREAT!), and Kurt as himself.
posted by fast ein Maedchen at 9:02 AM on December 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


If we get to pick next year, I will see Megan Hilty as Maria, please.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 9:03 AM on December 6, 2013 [2 favorites]


My brother and I watched it last night. My brother is a Sound of Music fan, and he laughed through the whole thing. Carrie Underwood and the male lead left a lot to be desired.

I'm not that big a Sound fan, but Rachel Millman and Patricia Lockwood did great livetweets of it, so I enjoyed myself.
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 9:04 AM on December 6, 2013


Alan Cumming would have made a GREAT Maria.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 9:05 AM on December 6, 2013 [32 favorites]


mochapickle: They should do it every year with a different cast.

Even better, you could have a series of say, 4 or 6 musicals spread around the calendar. Sound of Music at Christmas, West Side Story in May sweeps, Rent in September, etc, and then rotate that cast and crew through each of the musicals, adding or dropping people as the casting (and their schedules) demand.
posted by Rock Steady at 9:07 AM on December 6, 2013 [7 favorites]


I can't believe they actually wrote "ringer" instead of "wringer". Kids these days...
posted by Slothrup at 9:09 AM on December 6, 2013 [4 favorites]


You'd want one of the slots in the year to be a "Wild Card" slot to bring some variety to the repertoire.
posted by Rock Steady at 9:09 AM on December 6, 2013


I feel like Jeremy Renner would be good for this sort of thing, although I can't figure out why I think that.
posted by troika at 9:09 AM on December 6, 2013


Variety says, "Excluding sports, NBC scored its best Thursday in overall viewers since the “Frasier” series finale on May 13, 2004 (22.6 million) and its best Thursday 18-49 performance since the “ER” series finale on April 2, 2009 (5.2 rating)."
posted by Area Man at 9:12 AM on December 6, 2013 [3 favorites]


I didn't watch it because, honestly, I'm not a fan of Broadway shows. Sorry. But, I applaud any attempt to bring live programming to the small screen.
posted by Thorzdad at 9:12 AM on December 6, 2013


Variety says, "Excluding sports, NBC scored its best Thursday in overall viewers since the “Frasier” series finale on May 13, 2004 (22.6 million) and its best Thursday 18-49 performance since the “ER” series finale on April 2, 2009 (5.2 rating)."

When are they going to realize that they need to change the 18-49 age range to something like 40-75?
posted by Melismata at 9:14 AM on December 6, 2013 [2 favorites]


My bedroom TV is basically on for background noise, and I'd wondered why TSOM was on last night. If I'd known that it was a live performance I would have paid more attention.
posted by mrbill at 9:17 AM on December 6, 2013


Because all of you aren't my Facebook friends or follow me on Twitter, I have no issues with just copy and pasting my thoughts on this directly here:

1) Idea for NBC's next musical: Brand new sequel set in 1940s Austria where Mother Superior and nuns sway Elsa and Max to bring down Nazis from the inside titled "Sugar in the Gas Tank" (because "Removing the Distributor" doesn't have quite the same ring.)

The idea is ridiculous, yes, but Audra McDonald and Laura Benanti should be in everything, so it balances out.

2) Underwood's acting when not singing was NOT GOOD. Like almost so not good it was entertainingly bad. Her singing ranged from plenty fine to surprisingly effective. And every time the Audra McDonald, Laura Benanti, and Chrissian Bohrle were on screen, the show steered way back from going over the edge to something wonderful. All the Von Trapp kids were good/adorable as needed -- Liesel especially.


And now some Metafilter only content:

There was a lot that needed improving, but I'm really glad that it was a ratings success. Any time a major network takes any sort of risk and it even remotely pays off, those of us who give a damn about such things should be happy.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 9:18 AM on December 6, 2013 [6 favorites]


Best tweet of the night. I laughed for ten solid minutes.

(Runners up.)
posted by ColdChef at 9:24 AM on December 6, 2013 [13 favorites]


once the first commercial hit it was clear that it was all a stealth ad for the new Tom Cruise movie

You mean Tom Hanks, right?

"Centered on the production of the 1964 Walt Disney Studios film, Mary Poppins, the film stars Emma Thompson and Tom Hanks with supporting roles from Paul Giamatti, Jason Schwartzman, Bradley Whitford and Colin Farrell."
posted by mrbill at 9:25 AM on December 6, 2013


If I am going to watch a live holiday-related TV special, it better be Frank Cross's live presentation of A Christmas Carol. Of course, the parts of Buddy Hackett and John Houseman will have to be recast.
posted by Ber at 9:26 AM on December 6, 2013 [2 favorites]


Y'know, part of me wonders why they just didn't make this a tie-in with GLEE.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:29 AM on December 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


The greatest failing of this is that they neither created a drinking game for it nor offered a suggestion for a signature cocktail. I'm not sure what the former might have been, but I will offer the following for the latter:

When the Lord closes a door, somewhere He opens a lager cocktail

One part beer, one part sparkling wine. The wine should be Austrian (perhaps Mathai Brut Sect, which is made in a monastery); the beer, of course, should be from Trapp Lager Brewery.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 9:31 AM on December 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


Y'know, part of me wonders why they just didn't make this a tie-in with GLEE.

Because GLEE is on Fox.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 9:31 AM on December 6, 2013 [3 favorites]


Y'know, part of me wonders why they just didn't make this a tie-in with GLEE.


If somebody at Fox is looking at today's ratings and trying to make just that happen, I have no idea how the television business works.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 9:31 AM on December 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


(which despite my STRONG OPINIONS on all matters television is quite possible)
posted by MCMikeNamara at 9:32 AM on December 6, 2013 [2 favorites]


I don't watch a lot of television, and I had no idea this was going to air, and I wouldn't have watched it even if I had known about it.

What I can tell you, though, is that sometime last night my twitter stream got clogged - and bad - by several of the people I follow deciding to live-tweet the event, and even re-tweet other tweets about livetweeting the event. I won't name the worst offender (since they've already commented in this thread and they know what they've done and are apparently not ashamed *glare*) but because of them I basically had to write twitter off as a loss for like a solid three hours.

So thanks, NBC. Thanks for putting on a production so wretched that my social media is bombarded in real-time with a discussion about just how solidly wretched it is. Nothing else - not even Sharknado - has destroyed my followers' minds like this event. You should be proud, I guess.
posted by komara at 9:32 AM on December 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


I thought Underwood's acting was very bad indeed. Say The Lines, Move Here, Make Sad/happyface. Too many people seem to think about acting the way too many people think about teaching, that anyone can do it from the get-go without any training. You know, 'acting is about showing feelings, so if you have feelings, you can act!' No no no.

I will say she was a trouper as a 'performer', by which I mean she sang serviceably (though I hate that throat-full-of-peanut-butter sound her voice has) while walking backward in heels up a lot of stairs and emoting perkily to a bunch of kids and cameras.

I was unpleasantly surprised at Moyer's Captain von Trapp--he's a professional actor and has some pipes, but boy, the pursed-lip tight-assed squinty-mean portrayal he went for was of no service at all to the story/characterization. My brother and I were talking about how you have to cast (and perform) the Captain with an eye toward the later Captain, the post-thaw Captain, who is loving and protective and sweet and demonstrative and chokes up while singing Edelweiss. Build a disappointment-and-trauma-induced shell on top of that for the early scenes, but the later Captain must always be showing through at least a bit. Moyer pretty much seemed to hate everybody, even his original intended wife the Baroness.

Speaking of the Baroness, I think Laura Benanti did a fantastic job! See some acting happening there. And she really knew how to use the closeness of the camera (as opposed to an actual stage performance with the built-in distance) for some perfect little bits of business with her face or just her eyes, to punch something up or add something subtle. (And she got her dress stepped on by some dude playing a partygoer, which hampered one of her entrances and kept her from reaching her mark in time, and she handled it with easy aplomb.)

Audra McDonald's Mother Superior was of course amaaazing. And one of the few genuine moments Carrie Underwood seemed to have was when McDonald was singing "Climb Ev'ry Mountain" to her (which blew me away, so good) and Underwood's eyes seemed to fill with actual tears. Mine would have too.

Also: I thought the actor playing Kurt was really charming. Unlike some of the other kids, he seemed to have an internal life, I had a sense of who Kurt was as a real person. Quite the feat for such a young actor.
posted by theatro at 9:32 AM on December 6, 2013 [4 favorites]


And perhaps it was unfair to ask so much of Underwood, to have to make Maria’s journey in three scant hours — where Andrews had weeks of production — while enduring costume changes and remembering choreography and trying not to look at the prompter and not step on anyone’s lines or feet.

You mean like stage actors do every single night and sometimes twice a day?
posted by Joey Michaels at 9:33 AM on December 6, 2013 [21 favorites]


I was watching! I thought Carrie Underwood's acting left much to be desired, but I still had a great time, seeing all the Broadway vets, hearing the music, tweeting and reading silly tweets. I hope they do it again sometime soon!
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 9:40 AM on December 6, 2013


AV Club: Let’s all pause for a moment and imagine the perfection that would have been Norm Lewis as Captain Von Trapp.

AHHHHHHH I AM BLINDED BY THIS PERFECTION
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 9:42 AM on December 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


Another thing I learned from the various live blogs of last night's production: the various spellings of "Vampire Bill."

-Vampire Biiiiiilll
-Vampire Beeeeeeeelll
-Vampire Biiihhhhhhhhllll
-Grouchyface McSourpuss
-NotEric
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 9:44 AM on December 6, 2013 [9 favorites]


I imagine SNL's reaction to the musical would be to play edited clips.

Otherwise, this could have been the core of an interesting season of Smash.
posted by ZeusHumms at 9:44 AM on December 6, 2013


OMG I would have loved Jennifer Hudson as Maria

Speaking of women who can sing and not act! Big thumbs down!
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 9:45 AM on December 6, 2013


Let’s all pause for a moment and imagine the perfection that would have been Norm Lewis as Captain Von Trapp.



With the added side benefit of making the heads of racists actually physically explode.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 9:45 AM on December 6, 2013 [2 favorites]


I'm reminded of Madonna in Evita, where all footage of her speaking never made it to the final print.
posted by ZeusHumms at 9:46 AM on December 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


I won't name the worst offender (since they've already commented in this thread and they know what they've done and are apparently not ashamed *glare*) but because of them I basically had to write twitter off as a loss for like a solid three hours.

*does a tiny little goatherder dance*
posted by ColdChef at 9:46 AM on December 6, 2013 [17 favorites]


komara, you know it's possible to turn off retweets on Twitter, right? You can do it in the dropdown on a user's profile. No need to fuss or glare!
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 9:46 AM on December 6, 2013 [3 favorites]


Carrie Underwood was awful, awful, when she wasn't signing.

Hmmm. An ASL "Sound of Music" is a surprisingly radical move for network TV.
posted by yoink at 9:47 AM on December 6, 2013 [15 favorites]


From the NPR link in the post:

Folks I was chatting with on Twitter were helping me imagine a version of Guys And Dolls with Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Sky Masterson and Kelly Clarkson (who was really funny in the otherwise unremarkable pilot of CBS's The Crazy Ones) as Miss Adelaide. That sounds pretty great to me.

Excuse me as I have to take a walk around the block without my coat in the below freezing weather in order to chill the fuck out from this thought.

I know Hulu isn't available for everyone, but the much talked "Climb Ev'ry Mountain" is there now and it is even better than I remembered it.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 9:47 AM on December 6, 2013 [3 favorites]


Didn't see it, but want a hell of a lot more of this on TV.
posted by Navelgazer at 9:47 AM on December 6, 2013


And perhaps it was unfair to ask so much of Underwood, to have to make Maria’s journey in three scant hours — where Andrews had weeks of production — while enduring costume changes and remembering choreography and trying not to look at the prompter and not step on anyone’s lines or feet.

You mean like stage actors do every single night and sometimes twice a day?


There are other factors, though -- the audience is farther away from stage actors most of the time, and there's a certain acceptance among that audience that "Hey, this is live, sometimes shit happens." There are a lot of people who prefer stage productions for just that reason: sometimes shit happens.

A live show on TV combines the worst parts of stage and the worst parts of TV. There's a reason we prefer seeing things rehearsed and edited and polished in our primary entertainment medium.
posted by Etrigan at 9:47 AM on December 6, 2013


Also does The Hollywood Reporter really believe that Julie Andrews would have been unable to make Maria's transformation believable in a live production as opposed to on film? Do they even know what actors do?
posted by Joey Michaels at 9:48 AM on December 6, 2013


you know it's possible to turn off retweets on Twitter, right? You can do it in the dropdown on a user's profile.

*quietly notes for different reasons* Thank you.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:48 AM on December 6, 2013


They should do it every year with a different cast.

Yes this. I vote for this for our newest national holiday tradition.
posted by gerstle at 9:49 AM on December 6, 2013


<SoM humor derail>
An update on the problem of Maria.

I regret to inform you that my wedding to Captain Von Trapp has been canceled.

A Complete Curmudgeon's Guide To 'The Sound Of Music'
</SoM humor derail>
posted by fings at 9:49 AM on December 6, 2013 [14 favorites]


If someone could convince R&H to give away the rights, I would like to see an Elsa/Max sequel please.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 9:50 AM on December 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


That McSweeney's piece is so great. "Her wardrobe is made of curtains. She’s definitely not a gold digger or anything."
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 9:52 AM on December 6, 2013


Curmudgeon link broken, fings.
posted by Melismata at 9:53 AM on December 6, 2013


komara, you know it's possible to turn off retweets on Twitter, right? You can do it in the dropdown on a user's profile. No need to fuss or glare!

Ah, I did not know this. I'll be reluctant to use it because most of the time I like seeing what the people I follow have chosen to retweet and I'd hate to turn it off and forget to turn it back on.

What I need is a 'completely silence this user for [x] [minutes/hours/days]' button instead. That'd be great.
posted by komara at 9:53 AM on December 6, 2013


Carrie Underwood's singing was very good. Her acting wasn't the greatest, but how much can you ask for? Those are rare skills.

To call her "horrible" is a clear exaggeration. You can tune in prime time TV any day of the week ("The Voice" etc.) and hear some really off pitch singing and overwrought vibrato. Underwood's pitch was impeccable and her phrasing tasteful.
posted by gyp casino at 9:53 AM on December 6, 2013 [2 favorites]


Thanks Melismata, fixed now thanks to the edit window!
posted by fings at 9:54 AM on December 6, 2013


Oh, speaking of Max, actually--I can't remember the original script well enough--is that in it, the stage direction where Max gets hauled off by the Nazis when it is discovered the Von Trapps have escaped? Or was that an idea of this TV production?

Because I never used to worry about Max so much, he seemed like a savvy political animal who could keep himself safe, and yet had the heart-of-gold that let him help his friends escape here and presumably could also come in handy for other people in danger later in the war.

But now I'm concerned that the Von Trapp escapade ends up sending Max to a camp or something. Poor Max.
posted by theatro at 9:56 AM on December 6, 2013 [3 favorites]


I experienced it through the medium of horrified tweets, which was confusing at first as decent people not liking The Sound of Music is not really part of my universe.
posted by Artw at 10:00 AM on December 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


One of my aunts worked at the Von Trapp Family Lodge. I think it was during high school. She said Maria was a really unpleasant person.
posted by Area Man at 10:00 AM on December 6, 2013 [3 favorites]


I want to hear a story of someone flipping through the channels around 10:45 ET who had a heart attack when they hit NBC and it was all SWASTIKAS SWASTIKAS SWASTIKAS
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 10:03 AM on December 6, 2013 [11 favorites]


Are swastikas on TV such a big deal though? Everyone seems to notice the juxtaposition of the flags and the TV G rating, and I recognize that the hateful symbol certainly can't be deployed lightly, but as a fact of history isn't it a pretty common sight on the television? I'm sure it's shown up in family programming before.
posted by Think_Long at 10:06 AM on December 6, 2013


It was a LOT of swastikas. It was scary.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 10:08 AM on December 6, 2013


Also I fell in love with Laura Benanti last night. My first crush on a (implied) Nazi sympathiser!
posted by Think_Long at 10:08 AM on December 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


Mrs. Zooropa and I turned it on midway through, but switched channels after only a few minutes. I kind of felt sorry for Carrie Underwood. Most people have their memories of Julie Andrews in the role so firmly stitched into their brains that anything else just seems off.

Frankly, it doesn't really matter who they put in the role. Whether it was Carrie Underwood or some other pop star, everyone will compare her to Julie.
posted by zooropa at 10:08 AM on December 6, 2013


I regret to inform you that my wedding to Captain Von Trapp has been canceled.

Oh, I am laughing so hard I might injure myself. This is wonderful!

(Confession: I was about seven when I realized I identified more with the Baroness than with Maria, and I've never looked back.)
posted by mochapickle at 10:10 AM on December 6, 2013 [2 favorites]


(Not so much on the Nazi sympathizing, but on the fabulousness.)
posted by mochapickle at 10:11 AM on December 6, 2013 [2 favorites]


Can someone explain to me when "The Sound of Music" became a Christmas thing?

So far as I recall, it has nothing to do with Christmas whatsoever.

Was this a tradition in some folk's houses? Did it air continuously on Midwestern stations ala 'It's a Wonderful Life"?

It just seems that in the last couple of years (or maybe I've just noticed) that it's popping up a lot around Christmas...
posted by madajb at 10:13 AM on December 6, 2013


I wandered in, said "Wow, swastika banners on TV -- haven't seen that in years"

Yeah, I thought "this must be a very special episode of The Voice"
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 10:15 AM on December 6, 2013 [6 favorites]


Let’s all pause for a moment and imagine the perfection that would have been Norm McDonald as Captain Von Trapp.
posted by Naberius at 10:16 AM on December 6, 2013 [21 favorites]


Also really feeling Wanda Sykes as Maria.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 10:18 AM on December 6, 2013 [2 favorites]


Can someone explain to me when "The Sound of Music" became a Christmas thing?

I think it was when broadcast networks started showing it during the holidays, during the latter part of the 70's, just before home video took off. Apparently, NBC showed it for twenty consecutive years, but other networks have shown it as well. Most of the showings were edited down for length.

In recent years broadcast airings have been less frequent, with availability on home video cited for declining ratings. Not sure about cable showings though.
posted by ZeusHumms at 10:26 AM on December 6, 2013


(I know this is neither here nor there but gosh I really love the hell out of the 1955 version of Peter Pan.)
posted by likeatoaster at 10:32 AM on December 6, 2013 [3 favorites]


Yes! Live Peter Pan next year, please! Or Guys & Dolls, Oklahoma, Gypsy...the list goes on and on.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 10:34 AM on December 6, 2013 [2 favorites]


It was terrible. But not Matthew Broderick in "The Music Man" terrible.

Also had "Inglorious Basterds" on another channel so swastika fest last night!
posted by umberto at 10:38 AM on December 6, 2013


Some things were just not meant to be remade.
posted by freakazoid at 10:39 AM on December 6, 2013


Oh god, I avoided the Broderick Music Man because I imprinted on Robert Preston and his sly sexuality at an early age. He and Marion clearly were going to have a lot of fun together.
posted by PussKillian at 10:41 AM on December 6, 2013 [2 favorites]


Is it bad that I completely avoided it? The original, and Julie Andrews' performance, is so firmly ingrained in my childhood memories that it seems impossible to top.

Though is it a good thing that the musical form is being brought to mass culture again? Maybe. It's an interesting case study at least.
posted by Kronios at 10:42 AM on December 6, 2013


to be honest, I started out as hate-watching it, but that gradually just turned into regular-watching. You forget how good professional musical theater actors are at their thing until you are watching them run cyclones around poor, outclassed Carrie Underwood.
posted by Think_Long at 10:45 AM on December 6, 2013 [3 favorites]


You forget how good professional musical theater actors are at their thing until you are watching them run cyclones around poor, outclassed Carrie Underwood.

I'm going to start thinking of this as "Smash-watching": Come for the big-name star, stay for the talented people behind the big-name star.
posted by Etrigan at 10:47 AM on December 6, 2013 [4 favorites]


Indeed. See: Nick Jonas in the most recent "Les Mis" anniversary concert.
posted by Melismata at 10:49 AM on December 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


On the other hand, some big-name stars are really good in the musical format, like Hugh Jackman in a staging of Oklahoma for PBS, which is online as a complete streaming version for a limited time
posted by ZeusHumms at 10:51 AM on December 6, 2013 [7 favorites]


Wanted: Actress who can sing AND pretend to like children
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 10:51 AM on December 6, 2013 [7 favorites]


ZeusHumms, some of us were daydreaming about What If They Had Cast Hugh Jackman As Captain Von Trapp. Sigh!
posted by theatro at 10:52 AM on December 6, 2013 [4 favorites]


I've never seen the movie, but I watched this with a bunch of people who knew it by heart. It was fun to experience it vicariously through their eyes and ears. Overall, it was enjoyable, and I thought the set design was nice to look at. The two leads were the weakest, specifically her acting and his singing. All the kids were great.

As regards the swastikas, I think the startling effect was less about the symbol itself than it was seeing them pasted in bright bold colors all across the TV screen while smiling, happy people danced and frolicked in front of them.
posted by Atom Eyes at 10:55 AM on December 6, 2013 [2 favorites]


A Complete Curmudgeon's Guide To 'The Sound Of Music'- updates for the new version:

32. For embarrassing the Gauleiter, Max is sent to an arbeitslager.

33. On turning 18, Rolfe leaves the Hitlerjugend and joins the Waffen-SS. He is killed at Stalingrad.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 10:57 AM on December 6, 2013 [2 favorites]


I just remembered that once upon a time I had a very short conversation with Ernest Lehman, who wrote the screenplay for Sound of Music. He had included that opening shot, of the aerial shot of the Alps which then closes in on the spinning Maria.

Usually, you don't write stuff like that in a screenplay, because it's not the job of a screenwriter to decide how to shoot a scene. So I asked him why he wrote it.

"If I didn't write it, they wouldn't have filmed it," he said.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 11:07 AM on December 6, 2013 [7 favorites]


As regards the swastikas, I think the startling effect was less about the symbol itself than it was seeing them pasted in bright bold colors all across the TV screen while smiling, happy people danced and frolicked in front of them.

This might have something to do with it. Usually swastikas on TV or in the movies have ominous strings and the single stroke of a deep bell for accompaniment.
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 11:07 AM on December 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


ZeusHumms, Jackman isn't a very good example as he's more someone who was really good in the musical format who coincidentally became a big-name star.

I just saw the Oklahoma you mention (first time I'd seen it) and that was basically the role that made Jackman a star outside Australia. His previous work had been in australia, on TV and in a hell of a lot of theater. The Hugh Jackman, certified Hollywood star, of Wolverine etc. came later.

In other words, Jackman wasn't some kind of stunt casting for that show the way Carrie Underwood was here. He was cast because he was an accomplished musical theater leading man to begin with.
posted by Naberius at 11:08 AM on December 6, 2013


Maybe Beyonce could pull it off.

Beyonce can do anything. ANYTHING.
posted by elizardbits at 11:09 AM on December 6, 2013 [2 favorites]


Also hey I found the full Peter Pan with Mary Martin! Spoilers: it is still delightful.
posted by likeatoaster at 11:13 AM on December 6, 2013 [4 favorites]


Beyonce can do anything. ANYTHING.

Beyonce is the answer no matter what the question
posted by The Whelk at 11:27 AM on December 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


Maybe Beyonce could pull it off.

Beyonce can do anything. ANYTHING.


She was too busy getting Robinson Canó's contract negotiations back on track.
posted by Etrigan at 11:28 AM on December 6, 2013 [2 favorites]


It would be great to see a live Gypsy, but I don't think Beyonce could pull that off.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 11:29 AM on December 6, 2013


I read an interview with Julie Andrews several years ago. She said that she was getting in shape for a tour or stage production (I believe this was in the 80s, well before the throat surgery). She was jogging near her and Blake Edwards' home in either Switzerland or Austria. The kicker was, she sang while jogging. This one morning she decided, ah what the hell, and decided to let loose with, yeah, that song. On a foot trail in the Alps. It's summer. Halfway through the chorus she flew past some tourists and managed to keep a straight face while checking out their jaws hitting the floor. I think she said when she got further down the trail she had to stop and laugh for a few minutes. Can you imagine what those poor tourists went through trying to tell people what they had seen?
posted by Ber at 11:31 AM on December 6, 2013 [21 favorites]


I actually know a guy who was on the sound team for this! I didn't see the show, but greatly appreciated a picture on his facebook feed, with himself and the other 8 people in the sound team, all in black, champagne flutes in hand and huge grins all posing around the bed.

I know the art director, and, because I don't have a television set with actual broadcast receiving capabilities, my only context for this event has been through his Facebook documentation. Interesting times.

Also seriously when will people learn that you can't cast a singer in a play and expect her to act. The amazing thing about Julie Andrews is that she's an actress who can sing.

They really should have cast someone with a musical theatre background, or at the very least an actress who can do a passable singing job. Casting a singer with no acting experience was a recipe for disaster.
posted by Sara C. at 11:31 AM on December 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


I actually know a guy who was on the sound team for this! I didn't see the show, but greatly appreciated a picture on his facebook feed, with himself and the other 8 people in the sound team, all in black, champagne flutes in hand and huge grins all posing around the bed.

Tell him all I could hear was mic hiss in every single scene in the Abbey.
posted by briank at 11:33 AM on December 6, 2013 [4 favorites]


My favorite is when they cast an actor who can't sing in a musical. For example, Marlon Brando in Guys and Dolls.
posted by Area Man at 11:35 AM on December 6, 2013 [3 favorites]


Yeah, I was baffled how the mics were kept live for the entireHSSSSSSSSSSSSSSKSSHHKKSSHHHHHH
posted by Think_Long at 11:36 AM on December 6, 2013


It was stunning to me that someone greenlit this idea without checking to see if she could act first. I kept watching to the end hoping that it was going to turn out to be the most genius episode of 30 Rock ever, and that it would all end with a surprise reveal that this was a Kabletown production.

On the other hand, if they'd done this and cast Audra McDonald as Maria, that would could have been amazing and groundbreaking in all sorts of ways. Live theatre requires real, trained actors, not just movie and TV stars. My fear is that this will not bode well for any future productions of live theatre on commercial TeeVee.
posted by Dr. Zira at 11:38 AM on December 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


Got home shortly after 8, couldn't watch more than a few minutes. Wanted to hammer the network with emails ala: "Dear NBC, Kelly O'Hara is alive and well. (Here's her agent's number.)"

Two, count em two, music-theatre-nerd type shows (Glee the other) were on b'cast TV at the same time last nite(!). Should've been heaven for me. But neither live up to what I want. (Nor did Smash, a show also from these producers.)
posted by NorthernLite at 11:44 AM on December 6, 2013


It would be great to see a live Gypsy, but I don't think Beyonce could pull that off.

OOPS YOU'RE WRONG

Beyonce could play a believable Tevye.
posted by elizardbits at 11:45 AM on December 6, 2013 [10 favorites]


Dr. Zira, before I hit submit on my comment I went over to IMDB to make sure she really didn't have acting experience. Because I assumed, surely, that you wouldn't give a role like this to someone who had never done anything, right? Surely she must have a recurring role on Smash, or some involvement with that TV show about American Bandstand back around the time she was on Idol. Nope. Her only acting credits are an episode of How I Met Your Mother and playing herself on Sesame Street.
posted by Sara C. at 11:48 AM on December 6, 2013


Also does The Hollywood Reporter really believe that Julie Andrews would have been unable to make Maria's transformation believable in a live production as opposed to on film? Do they even know what actors do?

And do they seriously not know that Andrews was a seasoned Broadway and West End veteran before she ever walked onto the set of a feature film?
posted by The Underpants Monster at 11:50 AM on December 6, 2013 [6 favorites]


I'm sure that there are good, smart people that work there but I've often found that when asking questions like "Does The Hollywood Reporter really believe [stupid fucking thing]? or "Do they even know what actors do?", you'd be surprised at what your rhetorical questions might get as actual answers.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 11:53 AM on December 6, 2013 [2 favorites]


Yeah, I was baffled how the mics were kept live for the entireHSSSSSSSSSSSSSSKSSHHKKSSHHHHHH


I just thought the cicadas were especially loud in Austria that summer.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 11:57 AM on December 6, 2013


The mic hiss must have been one of the other 8 peoples' responsibility. *cough*
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 11:58 AM on December 6, 2013 [2 favorites]


Can someone explain to me when "The Sound of Music" became a Christmas thing?
Was this a tradition in some folk's houses? Did it air continuously on Midwestern stations ala 'It's a Wonderful Life"?


It aired every year on some station or other when I was growing up in upstate NY. Whatever night it was on was the night we'd string popcorn for the tree.

It was always a game in our house to see who could spot which bits had been cut from the years before to make room for more commercials. One particular year that stands out in memory, they cut straight from "What will this day be like? I wonder," to "I am seeking the courage I lack," to "I have confidence in sunshine."
posted by The Underpants Monster at 11:58 AM on December 6, 2013


Beyonce can do anything. ANYTHING.

Beyonce is the answer no matter what the question


Are you kidding me??? The answer is ALWAYS Meryl Streep! MERYL FUCKING STREEP!

GAAAAAAHHHH!

*flails off down Manhattan sidewalk*
posted by Madamina at 11:59 AM on December 6, 2013 [5 favorites]


I think this Guardian piece does make some valid points about the difficulty of the material. When you have something this treacly, it takes really good acting to make it work.
posted by Dr. Zira at 12:00 PM on December 6, 2013


Yeah, The Sound Of Music is to Christmas as The Twilight Zone is to New Years.

Also somewhat like The Ten Commandments and Easter, except there is a tenuous connection there. (Biblical, it tends to also be around Passover, there are connections between the story of Moses and the story of Jesus, etc)
posted by Sara C. at 12:00 PM on December 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


Meryl Streep could play Tevye.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 12:01 PM on December 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


The Underpants Monster: one of my favorite (read: irritatingly least-favorite) weirdo TV edits was the cut removing most of Liesl's joke telegram to Rolf--she has just started, "Dear Rolf. Stop." But before she can deliver the rest of the actual joke/come-on, it cuts right to Rolf smugging "Why you're such a BABY." Even as a child I was like, "...what?"
posted by theatro at 12:02 PM on December 6, 2013


It was always a game in our house to see who could spot which bits had been cut from the years before to make room for more commercials. One particular year that stands out in memory, they cut straight from "What will this day be like? I wonder," to "I am seeking the courage I lack," to "I have confidence in sunshine."

These were the cuts. THESE. They are etched in my brain. Whenever I watch the full airing and see some of the cut scenes, I get all warm fuzzies because the man will no longer deprive me of my complete version!!

(Wikipedia) "NBC continued to air it annually for twenty years, often preempting regular programming. During most of its run on NBC, the film was heavily edited to fit a three-hour time slot (approximately 140 minutes without commercials). The 30 minutes of edits, which bewildered those familiar with the complete film, included: portions of the "Morning Hymn/Alleluia", sung by the nuns; part of dialogue scene in abbey between Mother Abbess and Maria; part of Liesl and Rolf's dialogue preceding "Sixteen Going on Seventeen"; Liesl's verse of "Edelweiss" sung with the Captain; the Captain and Baroness waltzing at the party, and many more dialogue cuts within existing scenes."
posted by Melismata at 12:08 PM on December 6, 2013


After the first 20 minutes of "Ugggh this is not the movie and that is NOT Julie Andrews," shock, my husband and i got into it and really enjoyed it. My main thought on the whole thing was:

YES, VAMPIRE KNOCKOFF CHRISTOPHER PLUMMER, KEEP SINGING EDELWEISS TO ME.

(Also, yeah, that was a lot of swastikas. We were both like Whoa.)
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 12:09 PM on December 6, 2013 [2 favorites]


Meryl Streep could play Tevye.

Meryl Streep has always played Tevye. That's how good she is; you never noticed.
posted by Etrigan at 12:12 PM on December 6, 2013 [10 favorites]


Sara C.: "Because I assumed, surely, that you wouldn't give a role like this to someone who had never done anything, right? "

The unfortunate thing is, I have no doubt that she and the rest of the cast worked their butts off on this. She was set up for failure by arrogant producers who apparently have so little respect for the craft of acting and that they think anyone who has ever appears in front of a camera can do live theatre. It's a whole different set of skills; in film, you can compensate for the weaknesses somewhat with editing, but live theatre is unforgiving in that regard.
posted by Dr. Zira at 12:19 PM on December 6, 2013 [4 favorites]


But she's never even appeared on camera outside of an American Idol type capacity, or press junkets.

I expected that some idiot would make the mistake you refer to, sending someone like Beyonce in to do a seasoned Broadway actor's job. But Carrie Underwood doesn't even have that "fix it in post" screen acting experience under her belt. It's like somebody forgot that being an American Idol contestant isn't acting.
posted by Sara C. at 12:25 PM on December 6, 2013


(BTW I love Beyonce but her performance in that movie about Chess Records is execrable.)
posted by Sara C. at 12:26 PM on December 6, 2013


I really want to know who else they tried to get. I refuse to believe Carrie Underwood was the first choice.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 12:27 PM on December 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


Anne Hathaway?
posted by Sara C. at 12:27 PM on December 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


Not everybody who has ever been on American Idol is as naturally wonderful in front of the camera as Kelly Clarkson.

There I said it. It's not entirely related to the point at hand but it's been building up all day.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 12:28 PM on December 6, 2013 [2 favorites]


Hathaway was who the von Trapp's IRL wanted.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 12:28 PM on December 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


Wait hold on I might be confusing Carrie Underwood with Kelly Clarkson.

Was Carrie Underwood on Idol or is she just a country singer?
posted by Sara C. at 12:28 PM on December 6, 2013


Sarah C., she won season 4 of idol. Kelly Clarkson won the first season.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 12:29 PM on December 6, 2013


She's from Idol.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 12:29 PM on December 6, 2013


Thank you.

I have never watched American Idol, except for some Adam... (Lambert?) performances a coworker once foisted on me via youtube.
posted by Sara C. at 12:30 PM on December 6, 2013


Carrie Underwood.

Kelly Clarkson.

You're not the only one who confuses them.
posted by Etrigan at 12:30 PM on December 6, 2013


Eyebrows Mcgee: (Also, yeah, that was a lot of swastikas. We were both like Whoa.)

Honest Adolfs Swastika Shoppe had to double their production staff to meet the deadline.
posted by dr_dank at 12:32 PM on December 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


But not Matthew Broderick in "The Music Man" terrible.

While this comment cannot be unseen, I most sincerely appreciate the warning. Took a LONG time for me to warm to his Producers, but only because nearly everyone else was spot on faaaabulous.
posted by tilde at 12:36 PM on December 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


Kelly Clarkson frankly wouldn't have been the worst choice. Everyone hated From Justin To Kelly, but in a good way that could probably translate OK to live TV.
posted by Sara C. at 12:36 PM on December 6, 2013


Needed quite a bit of suspension of disbelief. The black Reverend Mother was excellent, but an anomaly in 1938 Germany, Georg's intended a female CEO another anomaly for the era. Wooden acting, blustering Nazis = high school level production.
posted by Cranberry at 12:50 PM on December 6, 2013


Meryl Streep could play Tevye.

Don't you dare deny me a live Mandy Patinkin as Tevye! I don't care if it's lower than his range. With a beard that full and luxurious, he can sing anything.
posted by gladly at 12:53 PM on December 6, 2013 [5 favorites]


Bad news, gladly.
posted by troika at 12:54 PM on December 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


freakazoid: "Some things were just not meant to be remade."

But it's a play, by definition it's meant to be remade.
posted by octothorpe at 1:06 PM on December 6, 2013


I didn't watch last night's proceedings, but that clip that MCMikeNamara linked to was astounding. Audra McDonald is amazing! You couldn't pay me to watch Carrie Underwood in anything. With so much talent in musical theater, why they couldn't cast a bonafide stage star is crazy.

Also, I'd like to highly recommend Maria Von Trapp's autobiography to anyone who loves the musical as much as I do. Quite an astonishing story.
posted by computech_apolloniajames at 1:09 PM on December 6, 2013 [2 favorites]


With so much talent in musical theater, why they couldn't cast a bonafide stage star is crazy

With so much talent in musical theater JUST ON PROGRAMS THAT WENT OFF THE AIR LAST YEAR ON NBC: Megan Hilty of Smash, Jane Krakowski of 30 Rock, and Christina Applegate of Up All Night.
posted by troika at 1:23 PM on December 6, 2013 [4 favorites]


wenestvedt: "When A Baldwin Brother did "South Pacific" with Reba on PBS some years ago I was hopeful that we would see more revivals done that way, but so far I have been disappointed."

Didn't see it, but it almost HAD to be better than the TV version starring Glenn Close as the "19-year-old" nurse, and the actor playing her Decemberish suitor was actually five years younger than her.

But that's not the worst part: the Tonkin love interest's mother singing "Bali H'aaa[voice recedes]aaaa[whispering now]aiFLATSTOP".
posted by IAmBroom at 1:25 PM on December 6, 2013


Y'know, they've attempted other live television stage adaptations (non-musical) over the years. "On Golden Pond" with Andrews and Plummer immediately comes to mind (IIRC, ratings weren't great).
posted by Melismata at 1:29 PM on December 6, 2013


Why do people zero in on things like race in order to talk about suspension of disbelief, and not, for example, Julie Andrews' anachronistic pixie haircut or the feasibility of making eight matching outfits out of curtains?
posted by Sara C. at 1:35 PM on December 6, 2013 [3 favorites]


With so much talent in musical theater JUST ON PROGRAMS THAT WENT OFF THE AIR LAST YEAR ON NBC: Megan Hilty of Smash,

To paraphrase someone in the comments elsewhere (AV Club) I think re: Smash:

Again, you've got a singer whose TV experience is mostly American Idol and you not only put her out there as the star but you surround her with Broadway powerhouses who can't help but show her up. NBC can't even learn the lessons from their own failed shows, which is classic NBC.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 1:37 PM on December 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


The woman who played Eponine in Les Miserables would have been great, though:

A) was this in development before that won a bunch of Oscars and people raved about her?

B) I like musicals and stuff and don't even know her name, so.

C) Vocal range issues?
posted by Sara C. at 1:40 PM on December 6, 2013


Sara C., do you mean from the movie? Samantha Barks?
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 1:42 PM on December 6, 2013


...Megan Hilty of Smash, Jane Krakowski of 30 Rock, and Christina Applegate of Up All Night.

I love all these women, but I'm assuming that NBC required a Really Big Name for this project to be greenlit. It is honestly really hard to think of a major contemporary star with both the acting and vocal chops to pull this off.
posted by lalex at 1:47 PM on December 6, 2013


I'm referring to Cranberry's comment.
posted by Sara C. at 1:48 PM on December 6, 2013


Perhaps they should have gone with Claire Danes. Can she sing?
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 1:50 PM on December 6, 2013


Who's playing Cinderella in Into The Woods? That's basically who you want.
posted by Sara C. at 1:51 PM on December 6, 2013


My favorite tweet of the night: "That awkward moment when you sign up your friend's family to sing for an audience of nazis. #SoundofMusic"

bonus points: tweeted by Dr. Jill Biden. You know, the VEEP's wife.
posted by onlyconnect at 1:52 PM on December 6, 2013 [9 favorites]


ANNA KENDRICK DUUUUUHHHHHHH

My assumption is that she wasn't available due to same, but she is REALLY the obvious choice for this.
posted by Sara C. at 1:52 PM on December 6, 2013 [2 favorites]


Bad news, gladly.

NOoooo!
posted by gladly at 1:54 PM on December 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


ANNA KENDRICK DUUUUUHHHHHHH

The question is, and I know nothing about the industry so I am genuinely asking, would NBC have produced this (expensive) project with an actress at the fame level of Anna Kendrick instead of a megastar like Carrie Underwood?
posted by lalex at 1:59 PM on December 6, 2013


Is Carrie Underwood considered a megastar? Am I really that far out of the pop milieu?
posted by Think_Long at 2:01 PM on December 6, 2013


This article seems to say that Walmart's sponsorship was largely due to Underwood's casting.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 2:05 PM on December 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


I love mochapickle's idea of them doing this every year with a different cast, but I don't see how they could afford it. I mean, they spent $9 million on this production alone, and I doubt future productions would give them the ratings bonanza this one did (especially if the stars weren't as widely recognized as Underwood, who may not be huge on MetaFilter but who is legitimately a huge country star). I have read a news article saying NBC intends to broadcast this production again this year and then more in future years to become a sort of Christmas staple. Because I guess they want to recoup their investment.
posted by onlyconnect at 2:06 PM on December 6, 2013


It's TV, so yes, Anna Kendrick is plenty big enough.

I mean, you can't really go for "that chick who had a supporting role in this one movie", so you do need a Name. But the star of a sleeper hit movie that musical theatre geeks love, who is about to have much bigger exposure in a HA-YUUUGE forthcoming movie musical, would definitely do it. Anna Kendrick is precisely the exact amount of name they need, which will at least enable them to win the night from Glee.

Speaking of which Lea Michele would have been a coup.

My sense is that people like Kendrick or Michele were off the table due to network exclusivity deals. Fox isn't giving up one of their biggest stars to do an NBC special that'll be competing with the show she's actually on. While Disney might be convinced to let Anna Kendrick do another big prominent musical theatre type project at another network, it would only be possible if it were exceedingly convenient for Kendrick to do.
posted by Sara C. at 2:09 PM on December 6, 2013


Also, I'm sure there was some asshole NBC exec convinced that Maria has to be blond, and you simply CAN'T cast a brunette actress in the part. Despite the fact that Underwood herself is clearly wearing a wig in the stills I've seen.
posted by Sara C. at 2:11 PM on December 6, 2013


Beyonce could play a believable Tevye.

♫ If I was a boy, all day long I'd bidi-bidi-bum ♫
posted by obscure simpsons reference at 2:13 PM on December 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


I dunno, I disagree about Kendrick. Nobody outside the rabid MT fan community knows who she is. Certainly not 18.5 million viewers' worth.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 2:13 PM on December 6, 2013


Nobody outside the rabid MT fan community knows who she is.

This is certainly not my experience.

She's not Carrie Underwood level famous, but I don't think you need Carrie Underwood level famous for a project like this.

And if you do, the answer is that The Sound Of Music Live Televised Theatre Event can't happen right now, so let's shelve the project until there exists a bonafide household name superstar double or triple threat, who isn't also the star of a series we just canceled (Katharine McPhee).

Because there just aren't a whole lot of actresses who are capable of doing what they needed to do, here. And the only ones I can think of are either off the table for proprietary reasons or would not be willing to sink to the level of an NBC TV special.

If this is so deeply the sort of project that needs exactly the right person to make it happen, it's the sort of project that will have to wait for the right person to be willing to do it. "Just cast the most famous person we can get, nevermind if it's actually good" is not a great development strategy here.
posted by Sara C. at 2:19 PM on December 6, 2013


The better strategy would have been to cast an Anna Kendrick or a Sutton Foster and get the really big names for the supporting cast.
posted by Sara C. at 2:22 PM on December 6, 2013


Oh gawd you guys, this thread has me imagining Hugh Jackman and maybe Amy Adams (or 90 other good musical theatre actresses) doing a live TV musical.

Wooden acting, blustering Nazis = high school level production.
My high school production is offended by the comparison to this.

I thought "this must be a very special episode of The Voice"
For you: https://twitter.com/Shyaporn/status/408846502518222848/photo/1

Also I fell in love with Laura Benanti last night.
FYI She can be rather amusing on twitter herself. Check it out.

part of me wonders why they just didn't make this a tie-in with GLEE
Lea Michele would have been a coup.

[Channeling Rachel Berry: "I'll be the greatest Jewish Maria ever."*]

(*Yes, I know Lea isn't Jewish. And she wouldn't have been available right now, even if Fox agreed to her being opposite their show.)
posted by NorthernLite at 2:23 PM on December 6, 2013


Oh, huh, Amy Adams would have been great! Can she sing?
posted by Sara C. at 2:24 PM on December 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


Pretty sure she wasn't dubbed in Enchanted, etc.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xRYU4cqUAUs
posted by NorthernLite at 2:26 PM on December 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


My favorite tweet of the night: "That awkward moment when you sign up your friend's family to sing for an audience of nazis. #SoundofMusic"

bonus points: tweeted by Dr. Jill Biden. You know, the VEEP's wife.


Sadly, it's a parody account. But last night it was on fire.
posted by Atom Eyes at 2:28 PM on December 6, 2013


And she sang in that Muppets movie.
posted by computech_apolloniajames at 2:29 PM on December 6, 2013 [3 favorites]


This explains the "Can we all talk about Carrie Underwood's pimple" thing I saw on fb today. I hadn't seen any actual advertising for it other than some pre-"Hollywood destroys another childhood memory" the other day. It's a shame as my SO loves this movie and I would have sat through it. We were busy catching up on Revolution. Is HuluPlus/Netflix the new "I don't own a tv"?
posted by Big_B at 2:29 PM on December 6, 2013


"Hollywood destroys another childhood memory"

I think NBC's PR really fell down hard on one particular job here: to let people know well in advance that this is NOT A REMAKE OF THE MOVIE. Like 75% of the tweeting I saw was about 'omg they've moved the songs around how dare u #NBCfail' and 'no I HAVE CONFIDENCE?!?!? sacrilege!' and stuff. But this was the musical, not the movie, and the original musical has some real differences from the movie, in song order and a few songs gained or lost and so forth. People needed to be gently educated about that ahead of time, because otherwise things you're doing that are actually completely accurate to your source text end up seeming like big mistakes and rude alterations, and people start yelling about it, and the meme spreads that you're a big mean Julie-Andrews-murdering fiend.
posted by theatro at 2:35 PM on December 6, 2013 [3 favorites]


Oh, huh, Amy Adams would have been great! Can she sing?

She did Into the Woods last summer. Unfortunately, I can see Adams being considered "too old" for the part of the ingenue.

That's the other thing, you have to get someone who can pull off three full hours of vocal excellence while dancing, acting, etc. I imagine that's a more advanced skillset than singing a couple songs nicely over the course of filming a movie.

If they needed a Big Name for the lead, I can see why they went with Carrie Underwood and I honestly didn't think she ruined the production. I do, however, like your idea of having the musical theater pro as the lead and casting the Big Names in the supporting - and less demanding - parts.
posted by lalex at 2:38 PM on December 6, 2013 [2 favorites]


The von Trapps wanted Anne Hathaway as Maria. Which could have been pretty sweet, actually.
posted by mochapickle at 2:57 PM on December 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


Or you just don't do this project at all, but wait for Glee to get canceled and then snap up Lea Michele. Or have it sitting in a desk drawer waiting for Anna Kendrick to become the next big thing. Or for Miley Cyrus to finish rebelling. Or whatever.
posted by Sara C. at 2:57 PM on December 6, 2013


My guess is that Anne Hathaway wouldn't have taken the role. Not enough money, and Oscar-winning actors typically consider themselves too big for TV.
posted by Sara C. at 2:58 PM on December 6, 2013


Well certainly nobody would have hate tweeted about her. *snerk*
posted by MCMikeNamara at 2:58 PM on December 6, 2013 [3 favorites]


What was that episode of 30 Rock where Jack Donaghy tries to sabotage the network by making shit?
posted by Sara C. at 3:01 PM on December 6, 2013


wait wait wait we've all mentioned the BEST SOUND OF MUSIC COMMENT MADE ON MEFI RIGHT RIGHT?

just checking.
posted by The Whelk at 3:06 PM on December 6, 2013 [5 favorites]


I am just imagining what the negative reaction would have been if the lead had been Taylor Swift, and the song Swift would have written as a reaction to the negative reaction, and the mean parody that Jimmy Kimmel or someone would have produced about the whole thing, and the subsequent twitter war between Swift fans and Kimmel fans over the parody, on and on. Imagining all of this pooping back and forth, forever, in general I am EVEN MORE SATISFIED with Carrie Underwood's performance.
posted by onlyconnect at 3:07 PM on December 6, 2013 [3 favorites]


esp. since if you listen to gossip Swift is chomping at the bit to be in a Real Musical and pushing haaaaard for a movie-revival of Grease.
posted by The Whelk at 3:08 PM on December 6, 2013


Sara C.: "My guess is that Anne Hathaway wouldn't have taken the role. Not enough money, and Oscar-winning actors typically consider themselves too big for TV."

Also she has acted with Julie Andrews twice, and Andrews sang in both movies. It a) would have read weirder and b) Hathaway has already had her experience of being compared to Andrews and is a lot more aware of what that entails.

Laura Benanti was hilarious. I know I've seen the musical twice (small regional productions) but I don't remember that much about how it differs from the movie and it was a long time ago, so I don't know how "written in" this is to the musical version, but Christian Borle gave Max quite a bit more nuance, especially in the theater scene where he was obviously telling von Trapp to escape while talking to the audience, than I can recall ever seeing before. Now I have to go watch the movie and pay attention to Max near the end and see how much nuance he gives it. Audra McDonald, well, obvs.

Stephen Moyer honestly filled all my requirements for the Captain, which is being handsome, brooding, and pissed about Nazis. I didn't know who he was before last night (I saw in preview articles that he plays a vampire, which is not my thing, but that's all I knew), but he sang very well and he was super-pissed about Nazis and I liked him a lot. Carrie Underwood -- well -- she was the weak link in terms of acting, but there were a few scenes where she really shined. She wasn't as bad as I'd been afraid she might be, and part of me says good for her for taking on such a totally iconic role and at least trying it.

I thought the Liesl actress was very good, I hope she gets more TV/movie work from this. (And she looked more age-appropriate than Charmaine Carr did in the movie.)
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 3:14 PM on December 6, 2013 [3 favorites]


Stephen Moyer honestly filled all my requirements for the Captain, which is being handsome, brooding, and pissed about Nazis.

Unfortunately he did not fill my main requirement for the Captain, which is bearing an uncanny resemblance to my grandfather.

My grandpa is a dead ringer for Christopher Plummer, and this confused the shit out of me circa age 6.
posted by Sara C. at 3:20 PM on December 6, 2013


esp. since if you listen to gossip Swift is chomping at the bit to be in a Real Musical and pushing haaaaard for a movie-revival of Grease.


Do this and cast her as Rizzo and we'd solve the planet's energy needs (as long as we could turn rage into a usable power source)

Also she has acted with Julie Andrews twice, and Andrews sang in both movies. It a) would have read weirder and b) Hathaway has already had her experience of being compared to Andrews and is a lot more aware of what that entails.


I'm glad Eyebrows McGee made this point before I came in to say "But Julie Andrews is her GRANDMOTHER!" which would have been unseemly.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 3:22 PM on December 6, 2013 [2 favorites]


Why the hell did my brain decide to start casting a gender-flipped version of TSOM without my permission?
posted by The Whelk at 3:23 PM on December 6, 2013 [2 favorites]


Kristin Chenoweth sings, acts, and is just off kilter enough to be a really interesting Maria. Julie Andrews performance is iconic, but really, she seems to fit right in at the convent. There never seems to be a problem to solve. Chenoweth, on the other hand, always seems just a little nuts.
posted by Joey Michaels at 4:31 PM on December 6, 2013


...though I'm not sure she has the right vocal range for the part. I think she does, but IANAMD.
posted by Joey Michaels at 4:32 PM on December 6, 2013


I like Kristin, but no no NO!
posted by computech_apolloniajames at 4:34 PM on December 6, 2013


Oh, yes yes YES!
posted by Joey Michaels at 4:38 PM on December 6, 2013


This is my dubious face.
posted by computech_apolloniajames at 4:40 PM on December 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


Why do people zero in on things like race in order to talk about suspension of disbelief, and not, for example, Julie Andrews' anachronistic pixie haircut or the feasibility of making eight matching outfits out of curtains?

I made ten matching outfits out of curtains last summer, without even the benefit of half of them being jumpers and overalls that go over pre-existing blouses and shirts.

The haircut is not anachronistic at all for a young, unsophisticated, small-town girl of that era, just out of school herself, who is planning on cutting it all off soon to go under a veil anyway.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 5:02 PM on December 6, 2013


Kristin Chenowith? NO WAY. She is way too old. So is Audra, for that matter.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 5:08 PM on December 6, 2013 [2 favorites]


And speaking of Cinderella, Laura Osnes would have been an awesome Maria (if she didn't already have a job and was famous enough to get such a role).
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 5:15 PM on December 6, 2013


"God, just imagine how many opinions you'd have if you usually liked The Sound of Music or, really, musicals at all" was a very good point my partner just made.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 5:16 PM on December 6, 2013 [3 favorites]


Kristin Chenowith? NO WAY. She is way too old.

Egads. Does she read old to you? I recognize her actual age, but she reads younger to me.

Yes, she's 15 years older than Julie Andrews was when she played Maria, but its not like Maria reads as a sweet young thing. Plus, she ends up with a man old enough to have a nearly-adult child. I'm in favor of Maria seeming a little bit more his contemporary.
posted by Joey Michaels at 5:35 PM on December 6, 2013


Chenowith is probably confusing because she looks her real age but speaks and sings in that exaggerated artificial baby voice.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 6:09 PM on December 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


I thought Maria was supposed to seem young. With Chenowith it would seem like the convent was a second or third career.
posted by Area Man at 6:42 PM on December 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


I am a trauma nurse. I have the soul of a blackened piece of nowhere and the compassion of a newt. As I watched the crowdsourced do-re-mi video (which felt a little like a gap/ithing ad--even so) I actually teared up. Actual tears! How the hell did this get programmed into my psyche? I blame (thank) my grandfather and his lifelong crush on Julie Andrews and my grandmother's tolerance of it. Hello Billie and Jack! I miss you!
posted by eggkeeper at 6:59 PM on December 6, 2013 [3 favorites]


Folks I was chatting with on Twitter were helping me imagine a version of Guys And Dolls with Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Sky Masterson....

I love Joseph Gordon Levitt, but... Sky Masterson?

No.

Hey, NBC, you can have this for free. Your next live musical - Guys and Dolls, starring:

Hugh Jackman as Sky Masterson
Anne Hathaway as Sarah Brown
Ray Wise as Nathan Detroit
Kristen Chenoweth as Miss Adelaide

and

John C. Reilly as Nicely-Nicely Johnson.

You're welcome.
posted by tzikeh at 8:28 PM on December 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


The thing is that Carrie Underwood, next to people like Audra McDonald, looked ridiculous. But she wasn't inherently bad so much as she was just hopelessly outclassed. In a high school or amateur production, she would have been adequate-to-great, and she kept her voice going for three hours straight without flagging. The girl can carry a tune, she can project, and if this is where she's starting for acting talent, she's ahead of at least some (less) working actors. You just can't put her in a cast of Real Musical Theatre Actors and expect her to not fall down in comparison, and I feel sort of bad that the producers (and we) have put her in that position where no matter how good she was she couldn't be As Good. The production would have been better served by someone like Anna Kendrick, for sure (Lea Michelle might have taken it a bit over the top).

Overall, it ended up being a "press play and sort of half-pay-attention to it" watch for me, rather than a "watching the whole time" production that I think a production with a sparkling, spot-on Maria would have been. But I watched, and I enjoyed it.

The actors playing Kurt and Brigitte, well...I would die happy if I see them in everything, forevermore. And I don't even like kids!
posted by badgermushroomSNAKE at 9:43 PM on December 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


John C. Reilly as Nicely-Nicely Johnson.

tzikeh, if anyone does a tv or film production of Guys & Dolls in the next ten years or so and doesn't have John C. Reilly as Nicely-Nicely, they will have been too incompetent for the task.
posted by badgermushroomSNAKE at 9:45 PM on December 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


Why do people zero in on things like race in order to talk about suspension of disbelief...

Y'know, my favorite role in any musical is Ken in "Ain't Misbehavin." I actually tried auditioning for it when I was younger. He has the best songs and schtick...

"Wouldn't be believable," I was told.
posted by umberto at 9:50 PM on December 6, 2013


I thought it was a perfectly serviceable rendition of a beloved musical. Except for a few sound and light glitches the production was fantastic. The sets and costumes were exquisite. The music was superb and the singing ranged from satisfactory to magnificent.

Okay, the acting. Some of the other performances weren't great either, but Underwood's spoken parts made her look like the Underbot. As in, "Listen, and understand. That Underbot is out there. It can't be bargained with. It can't be reasoned with. It doesn't feel pity, or remorse, or fear. And it absolutely will not stop, ever, until it's time to sing the next number."

Still, it was pretty clear she can actually emote as she did so quite effectively during some of the songs. So I'm going to put the blame on the producers Neil Meron & Craig Zadan — who have lots of credits between them, including live television like the Oscars and past stage adaptations, and apparently didn't feel a stage-to-screen live production needed an actual stage director — and Karl Bury who is credited as an "Acting Coach."

Still and all, no matter what you thought of the acting, if the hair on the back of your neck didn't stand up as the cast went over the mountain while McDonald, et al. completely nailed "Climb Every Mountain" at the end, then I don't know what to tell you.


P.S. Obviously the Tweet of the Night was, Someone give Audra a back massage. It must be sore after carrying that whole show. #TheSoundOfMusicLiveTaylor Lynn December 6, 2013
posted by ob1quixote at 10:10 PM on December 6, 2013 [3 favorites]


Anne Hathaway has already reprised a Julie Andrews role on the small screen.
posted by paperback version at 10:54 PM on December 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


This thread was a great source of confusion to me because I did not know that the actress from The Matrix could sing.
posted by KChasm at 11:05 PM on December 6, 2013


komara: What I need is a 'completely silence this user for [x] [minutes/hours/days]' button instead. That'd be great.

I believe HootSuite has this option! John Scalzi says it does, anyway, and though I have never used it myself I doubt he would lie about such a thing.
posted by insufficient data at 11:23 PM on December 6, 2013


I forgot to mention, I think perhaps it would have been better to have a live studio audience. I can see both arguments, but I think having the immediate feedback would have helped the performers.
posted by ob1quixote at 12:53 AM on December 7, 2013


Worth it for the livetweet from Tom & Lorenzo. Personally, this is the one I'm still laughing at a day later.

(And yes networks, more {good} live musical theater please.)
posted by Space Kitty at 1:55 AM on December 7, 2013


Hugh Jackman as Sky Masterson
Anne Hathaway as Sarah Brown
Ray Wise as Nathan Detroit
Kristen Chenoweth as Miss Adelaide

and

John C. Reilly as Nicely-Nicely Johnson.


I really, really like that, in spite of not being a huge fan of either actress. (The men are, of course, perfect.) Hathaway's milksop blandness suits Sarah to a T if the director can coax a little more out of her for when the repression starts to slip, and Chenoweth's kooky baby voice is perfect for the eccentric Miss Adelaide.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 8:30 AM on December 7, 2013


A poisen chan duhvelpe ah coooold.
posted by The Whelk at 8:34 AM on December 7, 2013


The good news is that the ratings for this thing were phenomenal, which means that not only NBC but also other networks may start doing more live musicals in the future. Exciting! Note that this was supposedly first live broadcast of a musical in something like fifty years!

So with that in mind, I really want one of the networks to do "West Side Story" live. Think about it:
- The show is a top-tier classic, with lots of recognizable songs even for people with only passing familiarity with showtunes.
- The network can cast a pop star as Maria and/or Tony for name recognition and buzz, but leave the other roles (Anita, Riff, etc.) for Broadway pro's.
- In the past few years, a sizable "dance show" TV audience has been developed in the US, with the popularity of "So You Think You Can Dance" and "Dancing With the Stars". You can crossover to that audience by picking a dance-heavy musical like WSS and you can cast some of those known dancers in the ensemble, who bring their own fanbases.
- Best idea of all: to keep the show feeling realistic and to avoid too many comparisons to the movie, do the show as the recent Arthur-Laurents-approved Broadway revival of WSS did: do the version of the show where the Puerto Rican characters speak and sing in Spanish. As an English-speaking Broadway fan, I think hearing overly-familiar songs like "I Feel Pretty" and "A Boy Like That" sung in Spanish (and some parts of the Sharks dialogue too) would make the material really fresh and interesting.
- And that of course means that the live show could be cross-promoted and/or simulcast on Spanish-language media! From an advertiser's perspective, reaching a bilingual audience is a big deal. Note that NBC/Universal also owns Telemundo.

As for casting suggestions, I don't know. As for maybe setting the show out of the 1950's, I don't know either. But I do know that the choreography should be kept Robbins-style. And Lin-Manuel Miranda should direct it.
posted by Asparagirl at 9:49 AM on December 7, 2013 [4 favorites]


- The network can cast a pop star as Maria and/or Tony for name recognition and buzz, but leave the other roles (Anita, Riff, etc.) for Broadway pro's.

No, no, it's the exact opposite. Maria is one of the most vocally demanding roles in the catalog; it's only a mild exaggeration to say that you need almost operatic lyric soprano chops to carry it off. Tony only slightly less so. You can't fake or cheat those high notes onstage.

You need a good Latin dancer for Anita, but you're more likely to find her in the pop world, along with the right kind of voice.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 9:56 AM on December 7, 2013 [3 favorites]


Casting anyone as Maria who is (1) actually a Latina and not a white girl wearing bronzer, and (2) can actually sing at all without being dubbed, would be a step up from the movie version. So in that respect, this casting may be more forgiving than the treatment that Carrie Underwood has had to endure (somewhat unfairly) being compared to an iconic performance like Julie Andrews'.
posted by Asparagirl at 10:08 AM on December 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


Carrie Underwood is also being compared to Mary Martin, and thousands of stage Marias who have followed in her footsteps, none of whom Miss Underwood succeeded, or had a chance of succeeding, in measuring up to. I'm not interested in comparing stage shows to feature films.

I maintain that if it's the lead role that absolutely has to be played by someone with limited scope, talent, and experience in live musical theater, then West Side Story is about the worst choice that could possibly be made, because the female lead in that show is incredibly technically demanding - much more so than the female lead in The Sound of Music.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 10:25 AM on December 7, 2013


I think they should do "Bye, Bye, Birdie". Taylor Swift as Kim, some old boy-bander as Conrad Birdie (Jordan Knight? Taylor Hanson?), and actual Broadway pros for the rest.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 10:46 AM on December 7, 2013 [2 favorites]


The network can cast a pop star as Maria and/or Tony

The problem with this is that the vocal ranges for both of those roles don't correspond to the typical pop star's voice well at all, and the songs are actually pretty challenging to sing. It's not like TSOM where anyone who can carry a tune can sing something like "Do Re Mi" or "My Favorite Things".

West Side Story is more like an opera, and less like American Idol.
posted by Sara C. at 10:57 AM on December 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


So we need a top shelf well known musical with lots of dance and without demanding vocals
posted by The Whelk at 11:02 AM on December 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


The Underpants Monster: "Chenowith is probably confusing because she looks her real age but speaks and sings in that exaggerated artificial baby voice."

I worked with her ages ago before she was famous, and there's nothing exaggerated or artificial about her voice.
posted by Dr. Zira at 11:04 AM on December 7, 2013


I worked with her ages ago before she was famous, and there's nothing exaggerated or artificial about her voice.

Well, if you've known her personally for a long time and that's her natural voice, I'll take your word for it. I've never heard anything remotely like it on another adult human being for whom it wasn't an affectation, so I assumed it was the same with her.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 11:29 AM on December 7, 2013


Oh, speaking of Max, actually--I can't remember the original script well enough--is that in it, the stage direction where Max gets hauled off by the Nazis when it is discovered the Von Trapps have escaped? Or was that an idea of this TV production?

In the stage play, the last we see of Max is his telling the band to "Play something!" to cover the chaos and aid the Von Trapp escape.

Max was my first real stage role, and it's still one of my favorites. While to most, "Sound of Music" is all whiskers and raindrops, the character of Max allows for a fascinating discussion of at what point you should just decide to keep quiet and not rock the boat to save your own neck. It's what makes "No Way to Stop It" such a great song.

I was not able to see NBC's SoM when it aired, but it sitting in my DVR, patiently waiting for me to watch it tonight.
posted by DrAstroZoom at 12:15 PM on December 7, 2013


I'll also admit that I tend to mix up Kristen Chenoweth and Christine Ebersole. I was tempted to write a similar "WHAT NO SHE IS WAY TOO OLD" kind of post at the suggestion of Kristen Chenoweth and then I realized I was thinking about Christine Ebersole.

That said, Kenneth Branagh played Hamlet in his 40s.

I don't happen to like Chenoweth's style and the impact it's had on musical theatre vocals, but I don't think she's necessarily too old per se. I mean, she's at the upper edge of appropriate, but enh. Frankly, at 30, Carrie Underwood is pushing Maria age appropriate-ness, if one is going for realism.
posted by Sara C. at 12:17 PM on December 7, 2013


That said, in my obsession with Les Mis last year when it was in theaters, I downloaded one of the early London cast recordings, and whoever played Eponine in that has Kristen Chenoweth Syndrome way worse that Chenoweth herself. So I guess I can't lay the blame there.

(What if it was Kristen Chenoweth???)
posted by Sara C. at 12:20 PM on December 7, 2013


Guys I start EVERY sentence with "That Said".

That said, my posts are a land of contrasts.
posted by Sara C. at 12:20 PM on December 7, 2013 [3 favorites]


People, still shaking my head over that "writer" who implied ol' Julie didn't have it as hard doing the film compared to doing it live on TV.

Does this person really, really not know Ms. Andrews originated the role of Eliza in MFL - one of the most difficult female roles in music theatre IMO? And Guinevere in Camelot. That she did the live TV Cinderella in '57. etc. Yeah, I think she would've handed Carrie her ass a million times over.
posted by NorthernLite at 12:47 PM on December 7, 2013 [3 favorites]


Spending three hours watching Carrie Underwood sound like Carrie Underwood, giving Carrie Underwood–style "What is that off in the distance?" looks, is not fantastic television. But if it means you get to watch Audra McDonald in a habit singing "Climb Ev'ry Mountain" so powerfully you're convinced she actually has climbed every mountain, it's worth it.
posted by The Whelk at 1:14 PM on December 7, 2013 [4 favorites]


I admit it: Carrie Underwood ruined it for me. It wasn't just that she can't act. It's that the American Idol pop singing is awful and is ruining popular perception of what good singing is. Audra McDonald is classically trained and a highly skilled musical theater performer, and hopefully Thursday night a bunch of America realized that there is a difference from what they hear so many evenings on the television and what is actually good.
posted by hydropsyche at 1:19 PM on December 7, 2013 [2 favorites]


wow

much audra mcdonald

very youtube clip

so mother superior

wow

(seriously though I've never been much of a "Climb Ev'ry Mountain" fan, and thought the Mother Superior role was sort of a boring afterthought. Not only did Audra kill it, I actually felt, in watching her, like I understood Mother Superior as a character, what her significance to the story is, and why this song is in the show, for the first time. THATS ACTING YALL)
posted by Sara C. at 1:49 PM on December 7, 2013


I had not watched the Climb Every Mountain clip 'til now. Whew, Audra McDonald, like a boss.

I'm an agnostic, but now I'd like to think Dick & Oscar were somewhere smiling after that.
posted by NorthernLite at 3:35 PM on December 7, 2013


Thanks, DrAstroZoom, for the Max info! I'm glad to know there's room in the story for Max not to bear the brunt of the punishment for the escape all by himself. Like you, I find him fascinating. In fact, as I got older and saw the show with new eyes, it was the Baroness and Max I ended up focusing on, in their own little side-story just outside the margins.
posted by theatro at 3:58 PM on December 7, 2013


Not only did Audra kill it, I actually felt, in watching her, like I understood Mother Superior as a character, what her significance to the story is, and why this song is in the show, for the first time. THATS ACTING YALL

Seriously! A textbook example of how a great actor can lift a role right up off the page, especially the way she puts subtext and meaning beneath the seemingly-simple lines of her songs.
posted by theatro at 4:01 PM on December 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


I watched Pirates of Penzance on Netflix yesterday with the kids (they loved it), and Kevin Kline was great! I want to see him in a live TV musical.
posted by Area Man at 9:35 AM on December 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


Grantland's Tess Lynch reports that NBC is already planning the sequel for next Christmas, but they can't do anything before that because the development calendar for SoM was 18 months, even though they think they can turn it around quicker this time.
posted by Rock Steady at 8:44 AM on December 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


YAY YAY YAY!
posted by mochapickle at 8:58 AM on December 10, 2013


Cabaret.
posted by Artw at 9:02 AM on December 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


I think it will be something much more "family friendly". The Music Man, Guys and Dolls, Fiddler on the Roof, something like that.
posted by Area Man at 9:14 AM on December 10, 2013


Okay, this is like a mystery box challenge on Top Chef: we need Audra, NPH and... hmmm... yeah, let's bring Chenoweth too.

WHAT DO WE DO?
posted by Madamina at 9:18 AM on December 10, 2013 [3 favorites]


I think Cabaret would actually be a good choice in terms of the numbers being easy enough for someone who isn't a tested stage actor/triple threat to pull off. I think I saw it on Broadway with Molly Ringwald and she did well enough. That said, it would absolutely not go over well on prime time network TV.

Oklahoma! would be a good choice. I'd probably sit through Taylor Swift as Laurey, and there are lots of parts for more interesting actual real life actors.
posted by Sara C. at 9:19 AM on December 10, 2013


Yeah, I think the smart thing would be to develop something around Neil Patrick Harris. See what he wants to do/what established family-friendly musicals have a male lead that he fits in.

The Music Man is probably due for a dusting off.
posted by Sara C. at 9:21 AM on December 10, 2013


You can't do Cabaret cause already flooded network TV with swastikas once.
posted by The Whelk at 9:22 AM on December 10, 2013 [4 favorites]


(NPH is playing Hedwig in the revival of Hedwig And The Angry Inch for the foreseeable future, which is something I feel the need to remind people about every 30 seconds.)
posted by The Whelk at 9:24 AM on December 10, 2013 [2 favorites]


You can't do Cabaret cause already flooded network TV with swastikas once.

So they've got them sitting around, which makes it cheaper.

2014: Cabaret
2015: The Producers
2016: Westen Side Story
2017: Mein Mamma!
2018: Das Miserables
posted by Etrigan at 9:37 AM on December 10, 2013 [8 favorites]


2019: Little Shop of Hitler
posted by mochapickle at 9:40 AM on December 10, 2013 [6 favorites]


2020: The Fuhrer and I
posted by Area Man at 9:48 AM on December 10, 2013 [5 favorites]


2021: Lebensrent
posted by Rock Steady at 9:52 AM on December 10, 2013 [4 favorites]


2022: Oberführer!
2023: The Wizard of Abwehr
posted by mochapickle at 9:55 AM on December 10, 2013 [3 favorites]


2022: Öklahoma!
2023: Fräulein Butterfly
posted by Rock Steady at 9:56 AM on December 10, 2013 [4 favorites]


2024: The Mach Frei Man.
posted by The Whelk at 10:00 AM on December 10, 2013 [4 favorites]


2025: Hello, Weimar!
posted by mochapickle at 10:01 AM on December 10, 2013 [3 favorites]


2026: Thoroughly Aryan Millie
posted by The Whelk at 10:04 AM on December 10, 2013 [6 favorites]


2027: Führer on the Roof
posted by Madamina at 10:05 AM on December 10, 2013 [5 favorites]


2028: Kristallnacht Express
posted by Rock Steady at 10:06 AM on December 10, 2013 [3 favorites]


2026: Das Schowboot
posted by The Underpants Monster at 10:07 AM on December 10, 2013 [7 favorites]


2029: Übermensch of La Mancha
posted by Rock Steady at 10:08 AM on December 10, 2013 [8 favorites]


2030: The Phantom Of Ost-Berlin
posted by The Whelk at 10:14 AM on December 10, 2013 [3 favorites]


2030: How to Succeed in the Gestapo Without Really Trying
posted by Area Man at 10:14 AM on December 10, 2013 [7 favorites]


2030: Goebbels and Dolls
posted by Rock Steady at 10:14 AM on December 10, 2013 [5 favorites]


2031 2032 2033: Spider-M--CANCELLED
posted by Etrigan at 10:16 AM on December 10, 2013 [2 favorites]


2031: Greaß
posted by mochapickle at 10:16 AM on December 10, 2013 [11 favorites]


2032: Adolf Hitler Superstar
posted by Area Man at 10:23 AM on December 10, 2013 [4 favorites]


2033: Springtime for Hitler (die Produzenten doesn't count -- I mean the whole reconstructed play of SfH without any framing devices)
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 10:29 AM on December 10, 2013 [3 favorites]


2034: 12 Angry Aryans (with added singing)
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 10:29 AM on December 10, 2013


2035: Mein Fair Dame
2036: A (Red) Star Is Stenciled Onto The Side Of An FW-190
2037: Ute Get Your Gun
2038: The Untermensch of Notre Dame
2039: Aryans Prefer Blondes
2040: Singin' in the Blitz
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 10:35 AM on December 10, 2013 [3 favorites]


2023: The Wizard of Abwehr

The Wizard of Defense? Surely that would be a hockey player? Not that I would mind a good hockey musical.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 10:38 AM on December 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


2041: Seven Aryan Brides for Seven Aryan Brothers
posted by Area Man at 10:42 AM on December 10, 2013 [2 favorites]


Not that I would mind a good hockey musical.

Hang on -- I have to patent the Calliope Zamboni first.
posted by Etrigan at 10:43 AM on December 10, 2013 [6 favorites]


'Sound of Music' actress Eleanor Parker dies at 91
posted by mrbill at 10:43 AM on December 10, 2013


I saw that, mrbill! I like to think that this was the last straw.
posted by Madamina at 10:44 AM on December 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


2042: Katzen
posted by onlyconnect at 10:45 AM on December 10, 2013 [5 favorites]


ROU, I'd imagined the Wizard would be Wilhelm Canaris, who secretly opposed the regime. I don't think he had much time for hockey.
posted by mochapickle at 10:49 AM on December 10, 2013


2042: Katzen

At bedtime, my cat's name is Kitzen von Katzenberg. Now i'll be tempted to sing her show tunes.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 11:26 AM on December 10, 2013


Dammit, apparently someone already made a TV version of The Music Man, in 2003. With Kristen Chenoweth.
posted by Sara C. at 11:56 AM on December 10, 2013


Has anyone ever actually tried a revival of Cats?
posted by Sara C. at 11:59 AM on December 10, 2013


CATS, the horrible betrayal of my childhood. Those were not real cats. I was told there would be cats.
posted by elizardbits at 6:01 PM on December 10, 2013 [3 favorites]


I think we as a culture are all kind of embarrassed by CATS and hope it quietly goes away.
posted by The Whelk at 6:20 PM on December 10, 2013 [2 favorites]


I get Midnight Express and Starlight Express mixed up a lot.
posted by Artw at 6:23 PM on December 10, 2013 [2 favorites]


Wikipedia lists a 2013 production of Cats touring the UK.
posted by Area Man at 6:37 PM on December 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


See, that's the thing. Cats is embarrassing, but all the other embarrassing shit that was popular in the 80s is coming back. It's only a matter of time...
posted by Sara C. at 7:28 PM on December 10, 2013


I'd actually be fascinated to see a complete gut-renovation re-staging of Cats. Same lyrics and melodies. Rebuild the arrangements/instrumentation from the ground up. Completely rethink the costumes and staging.

I'm not sure if I'd prefer a completely stripped down Cats in a black box theatre, arranged for a small group of simple instruments, sans cat costumes or the audience participation shit, or a completely anime/tumblr maximalist cartoon Cats where the chick who sings "Memories" is fucking Hello Kitty and it's like a gigantic wink at the ridiculousness of the whole thing.
posted by Sara C. at 7:36 PM on December 10, 2013 [3 favorites]


The 80s were 90% embarrassing shit and in no way cool, so I see it unlikely that our constructed cool version of the 80s will be expanded to include Cats anytime soon.
posted by Artw at 7:46 PM on December 10, 2013


Don't call it a revival, Cats been here for years
posted by Area Man at 7:53 PM on December 10, 2013


You can pry my fond Memories of Cats out of my cold, dead paws.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 8:02 PM on December 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


You know you're a child of the '80s when...
...you're 90% embarrassing shit and in no way cool.
posted by Etrigan at 8:32 PM on December 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


I remember going to Cats sometime in the mid 90s and my dad just sighing quietly and sinking down into his seat when it came to the tap-dancing cockroaches.
posted by PussKillian at 9:07 AM on December 11, 2013


Hey are we still doing Nazi-themed or -inspired musicals? I offer

Into the Woods! I heard there are Jews hiding in there!
posted by Mister_A at 9:20 AM on December 11, 2013 [3 favorites]


I was thinking to myself "how ridiculous, where would these performances get backers and funding?" And then I remembered Hugo Boss and Bayer and IBM and I lol'd. Also lbr WalMart would be all over that.
posted by elizardbits at 9:28 AM on December 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


I was about to insist that there are no tap dancing roaches in Cats, but I googled it and there are.

My memories are mostly of the awful synth-y music and shitty "lyrical" modern dance. Also the part where the "Cats" come out into the audience, which, no. (Despite the fact that it delighted me at age 11).
posted by Sara C. at 9:37 AM on December 11, 2013


Review of a recent production of Cats outside of Boston.
posted by Sara C. at 9:39 AM on December 11, 2013


(It will make you remember everything you ever hated about Cats.)
posted by Sara C. at 9:42 AM on December 11, 2013


Into the Woods! I heard there are Jews hiding in there!

Oh, the veins of shameful dark humor you've inadvertantly tapped.

Into the woods
And underground,
But careful not
To scent the hounds.
Into the woods,
Without the Sound
Of Music on the journey.
Into the woods
To get away;
To live to fight
Another day.
Into the woods
To flee the troops,
To stow away,
To make the border,
To hide,
To hold,
To fly,
To bolt,
To last,
To live,
To not go to the prison camps,
Into the woods!
Into the woods!
Into the woods,
But not before dark!
posted by The Underpants Monster at 10:35 AM on December 11, 2013 [3 favorites]


Auf weidersehen, Herr Birdie! [To the camps with him!]

Der Kaiser and I

(Note that Camelot will remain unchanged because everyone loves Robert Goulet)
posted by wenestvedt at 10:42 AM on December 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


(Seriously considering enspousenating the Underpants Monster for that Into The Woods/Number The Stars mashup.)
posted by Sara C. at 10:45 AM on December 11, 2013 [2 favorites]


Nobody said where the trains were going in Starlight Express... Or that the child imagining them wasn't HITLER.
posted by Artw at 10:45 AM on December 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


Note that Camelot will remain unchanged

Can we spell it "Kämmelott?"
posted by The Underpants Monster at 10:46 AM on December 11, 2013 [2 favorites]


Can we spell it "Kämmelott?"

Ja, gut genug. Also, am nächste Weihnachten: "Fraulein Saigon Stalingrad!"
posted by wenestvedt at 11:03 AM on December 11, 2013


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