Stephen Moyer and Carrie Underwood The Sound of Music Live
NBC's Sound of Music Live!
, starring country star and American Idol
winner Carrie Underwood
as trilling, hill-hiking governess Maria von Trapp, was like a snow globe with scarcely any flakes.
You could turn it upside down and shake it, really shake it, but no magic ever swirled around that plastic Alpine scene.
I can't imagine it supplanting the 1965 movie
, with Julie Andrews
singing of warm woolen mittens and larks learning to pray in a voice so purely crystalline it can induce brain freeze.
Underwood, in her first few scenes, suggested a towering Kristin Chenoweth, but her voice never had much distinction or strength, and her acting even less. When Maria began confronting her romantic feelings for Captain Von Trapp – moving beyond the asexual realms of the convent and the nursery – the emotions came trickling in unexpectedly like water under a doorway.
The part, as written, is actually rather skimpy and even interpretation-resistant. No one is expecting the "neurotic" Maria, the "delusional" Maria, the "enigmatic" Maria. What's necessary, perhaps even more than a great voice, are a presence, theatricality and personality to make the part more than it is. In that regard, Underwood, despite her blonde wholesome sunniness, was miscast.
True Blood's Stephen Moyer
, looking like F. Scott Fitzgerald fortified on a diet of vitamins and raw vegetables, didn't have much more luck as the Captain. He did sing a nice "Edelweiss."
Neither performer was helped by the fact that the production stuck to the original Broadway show, which premiered more than half a century ago. It was full of business that might be delightful or even exciting on a stage – nuns gliding about while singing their alleluias, characters racing up and down grand, sweeping staircases – but on a wide-screen television it tended to look like just that, lots and lots of stage business. The Von Trapp children kept rushing into group-hug formation as if they were a tiny football team in lederhosen.
Why was this done live
Audra McDonald, in a nun's habit, sang a tremendous "Climb Ev'ry Mountain," and Laura Benanti made a luscious and surprisingly sympathetic minx out of the Baroness.