How do you solve a problem like Carrie Underwood?


Carrie Underwood seemed to somewhat ruin the classic that is The Sound of Music. Without her it may have been alright.

By: Aubrey Trecek

                                Thursday, December 5th, NBC aired Rodgers and Hammerstein’s The Sound of Music, debatably the world’s most loved musical. It is especially close to my heart, as it was the first musical I participated in here at West. Carrie Underwood starred as Maria, the role that originated with Mary Martin, but will forever be owned by Julie Andrews. Of course Andrews did not play the role on stage, but rather acquired rightful possession of it in the 1965 film version. Andrews played Maria like a baby deer, bouncing, playful, and perfect. Underwood was also similar to a deer, but was more like one in headlights.  NBC was crazy to attempt this production, which was open for much mockery and criticism, but they did it anyway. It was not half bad either, save for the leading lady.

Underwood’s pop singer career was started when she won the fourth season of American Idol. Her acting career includes one movie, Soul Surfer, and a few guest-starring roles on television shows. I was rooting for her to do well; I genuinely do like her as an artist, but also I, like many, could not help but compare her to Julie Andrews. As an actress, Underwood was lifeless. She seemed to think that if she did not blink the audience would be tricked into thinking she was acting. It took almost the entire show for her to finally show emotion, and that was an ugly cry during “Climb Every Mountain.” The costuming seemed to go against Underwood as her costumes were frumpy while everyone else’s were exquisite. Stephen Moyer as Captain Von Trapp was little support to Underwood. He had the anger and stiffness in the beginning, but he had no humor toward the middle where Maria and the Captain are meant to fall in love. It seemed abrupt and without our previous knowledge of the musical, it would not seem to make sense that they love each other. However, Moyer sang very well. It was not until “Something Good” that Underwood finally won me over. The performance showed confidence and true love as the scene called for from Maria.  It was quite obvious the only reason Underwood was cast was for her famous name. However, even I admit this was necessary to attract sufficient viewership.

Supporting roles in the production were full of experienced, talented Broadway veterans. Audra McDonald was a goddess as Mother Abbess. Laura Benanti, who has played Maria on Broadway, was radiant as Captain Von Trapp’s fiancée, Elsa Schraeder. She and Christian Borle, who was on Smash, dominated in the songs “How Can Love Survive” and “No Way to Stop It.” The star-crossed lovers, Rolfe and Liesl, played by Michael Campayno and Ariane Reinhardt, gave me nothing to dislike about their performance in ‘Sixteen Going on Seventeen.”  The younger children were also very good.

As for the fact that the production itself was shockingly a musical on television, well, this is not the first time. It has worked before. Peter Pan starring Mary Martin was aired more than once, and was once considered essential for the holidays. Julie Andrews herself was debuted on the made for television musical, Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella. However, not only is it different than normal television, it is different than normal theater. Actors tend to build off of their live audience and not having laughter or applause present can make jokes and songs seem like less than they truly were. Even though it was nowhere near perfect, I am extremely pleased with the effort and energy put into this production.