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Sound of Music Live

December 10, 2013

I watched “The Sound of Music Live” much like a lot of people I know did. Most theatre I know didn’t care for it, particularly Carrie Underwood being in that lead role of Marie (I realize that it’s difficult for most to see someone else do that role after Julie Andrews). So after working hard to not share my opinion with anyone until I wrote about it (which I can now give myself a pat on the back for doing), here’s what my thoughts were about it:

Let’s get out-of-the-way that this was a commercialized production, since that’s a fact that everyone would agree to. Because of that, they brought in Carrie Underwood to do the role, so they can get in more views. To do the defense first, asides from the attempt of bringing in a wider audience, I can see why they would choose Carrie. She won American Idol, which means she has a great singing voice (and singing is half the battle for any musical), she also is someone who strongly believes in Christianity, and she’s been dabbling in acting for the past few years (I say dabbling since before now she hasn’t done anything big enough or professional enough until now- it’s more of an “I want to have fun and give it a shot” kind of thing as oppose to the art of making it her career interests), so some casting director- or producer must’ve thought: let’s get her to do it, since she would fit the bill and bring people in. And the part I respect most of all is that she took the challenge, since I know if someone offered me something like that I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t do it.

But quite frankly, she shouldn’t have been offered the role. I feel like in a few more years after gaining some serious training/experience under her belt, she could’ve made a really good Maria. However because she lacks that aspect, her performance wasn’t exactly what it could’ve been, as it felt quite empty to me. She tried, and that’s better than nothing; but she didn’t bring out the beauty of the character of Maria in her performance. As it was, I felt a lot of the supporting characters were really good (particularly I liked Else and Max, as whenever they were on-screen that was when I joyed it the most acting wise), but the supporting characters shouldn’t be carrying the leads.

Asides from Carrie, there were other things I didn’t care for in this live filming. I didn’t like the theatrical way they filmed it interestingly enough. I felt that having a room of the Von Trapp Family house that led straight to the Abby (along with the curtains pulling up to go to the show- what?) was a terrible choice. It left quite a bitter taste in my mouth since it really pulled me out of the moment of how incredibly unrealistic it is. Film is supposed to take you out of reality for a bit, and while things like that works for an on stage performance since we see that transition happen in front of our ears, on film it just didn’t read well at all. I think that if they wanted it to be theatrical then doing this in front of an audience on stage would’ve been the way to go (I think that also might’ve help Carrie too since she would’ve had that extra energy to feed off of).

I also hated the lighting in the Abby. In the beginning there must have been some issues since some of the nuns were standing in the dark (and for a 10 million dollar project that just shouldn’t have happened), while the Abby even looked dark and dreary when the wedding was going on (come on! Really?) The sets, costumes, and of course the music were all well done, even though whenever the set was dark, the lighting was as well (not a good choice, since we like to see what we are watching), but I’ll say that on the overall: it was OK. I have to say that when I saw Fredonia’s Theatre Department’s production of the show, that I liked it a lot better (and much less was spent on it too).

I feel like it would be a great learning experience for young theatre artists and filmmakers to watch it, but for anyone that isn’t interested in going that route, they should stick to Julie Andrews portrayal of Maria.

And the moral is: just because you can sing, doesn’t mean you can act. Also that it’s not the budget that makes a show great, but the heart behind it.

sarah sig

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