Updated: Jun 27, 2020
Last night saw the first in a new series of shows to be streamed weekly on The Shows Must Go On YouTube channel, beginning with the 2013 version of The Sound Of Music.
Originally broadcast on NBC in America in 2013, this was billed as an adaptation of the original 1959 Rodgers and Hammerstein stage musical rather than the iconic 1965 movie starring Julie Andrews. It was filmed "live" and you definitely could tell, thanks to some dodgy notes, far too slow camerawork and Maria nearly tripping up while dancing around the hill - the cause of death for many a Nun.
First of all, it's confession time. I am a massive fan of Carrie Underwood, who was cast in the lead role of Maria for this version. Listening to her music, going to her live shows then drunkenly screeching her songs at karaoke are a few of my favourite things. However, rest assured I won't be biased when talking about her and Lord knows she needs to be talked about.
So how DO you solve a problem like Maria? Julie Andrews' performance in the movie is so iconic, nobody else can compete. Not to say that anything Julie Andrews does is untouchable - Emily Blunt gave it a good go when putting on her famous costume in Mary Poppins Returns, so it can be done.
Carrie Underwood might seem like a strange choice of casting, but when this originally aired in America, this was a massive deal and needed a massive star to launch it. While Carrie may not be as well known in the UK, she is huge in America. Carrie has an incredible voice and tackles the songs well but perhaps lacking the sweetness they deserve. However, let's talk about her acting...
Jesus, take the wheel!
To call what she does "acting" would be a reach in itself - you could climb every mountain and still not be able to reach it. With no prior experience to acting, some people are born naturals. Carrie, however, is not one of them. Lacking emotion and believably, Carrie reads her way through the script. All the while you are thinking "It's Carrie Underwood playing Maria", not "It's Maria" as a good actress would have you believe. The closest thing I could compare it to was last years memorable turn from Ashley Roberts as Dawn in Waitress, which I am still having therapy sessions for.
Carrie is the biggest problem with this show. However, she is such a massive part of the show, it makes it almost unwatchable and at times makes you long for another Andrew Lloyd Webber show (Maybe not By Jeeves). The rest of the cast are far better at holding their own. Stephen Moyer is perfectly fine as Captain Von Trapp, Laura Benanti gives a brief but strong performance as Elsa (No, not that one), Audra McDonald steals scenes with a star turn as Mother Abbess, and the ever reliable Christian Borle delivers a standout performance as Max Detweiler.
The songs themselves are timeless. The Sound of Music, Maria, My Favorite Things, Do-Re-Mi, Sixteen Going On Seventeen, Climb Every Mountain, Edelweiss and even a Gwen Stefani tribute in the form of The Lonely Goatherd are all so well regarded and well known 60 years later, you can't help but smile at hearing these special songs, even if they are being sung by someone with the acting ability of a comatose goat.
If you haven't seen the show before, what starts as a sweet tale takes a really dark turn towards the end. It's never been one of my favourite shows but I can appreciate it for its strengths. This version struggles to hold up against the 1965 movie but it doesn't even come close. An impressive set, star turns and iconic songs are all undone by an out of her depth and disappointing lead which creates an inconsistent affair, never quite capturing the right tone.
The Sound Of Music is available from youtube.com/Theshowsmustgoon until 7pm Sunday 24th May. Direct link below. Another show from Universals vaults will be available every Friday at 7pm for the forseeable future. Other live shows they have done such as Hairspray and The Wiz are likely titles.
So what did you think? Am I being too harsh on Carrie or not harsh enough?
Am I out of the fan club?
How did this hold up to the Andrew Lloyd Webber series so far?
Am I losing my mind for giving Cats a better review than this?