Wednesday, December 4, 2013

NBC Gambles with 'Sound of Music'

Pictured: (l-r) Sophia Ann Caruso as Brigitta, Ariane Rinehart
as Liesl, Michael Nigro as Friedrich, Grace Rundhaug as Marta,
Carrie Underwood as Maria, Ella Watts-Gorman as Louisa,
Peyton Ella as Gretl, Joe West as Kur (NBC)
NBC is no stranger with taking gambles. Just before the fall TV season took off, the network produced the multi-day, much-hyped Million Second Quiz with Ryan Seacrest only to have it tank in the ratings. Tomorrow, they will take another risk, some estimating upwards toward a $9 million risk, tackling a live version of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s The Sound of Music. The 1965 movie version that stared Julie Andrews and Christopher Plummer has been presented during the holiday season on ABC for many years, but it appears that ABC may not this year, so at least the NBC version shouldn’t have any competition.

Besides the financial gamble, NBC is taking a chance with a three hour live production as well. The cast has been hard at work for months now for the one shot only performance. Many years ago, America was accustomed to live television productions, but today, shows like this (with exception to the various award shows), is quite rare.
As well-publicized, the new production stars Carrie Underwood as Maria, the troubled nun sent from her convent in Austria to serve as a governess for the Von Trapp children. It also stars Stephen Moyer (True Blood) as Capt. George Von Trapp. The Sound of Music Live! also stars Tony Award winners Audra McDonald, Christian Borle and Laura Benanti. No one is denying that Underwood can sing and has stage presence, but to go up against a legend like Andrews is no small task. No doubt, critics at large will be comparing her performance to Andrews and who would want to deal with that?

This year’s show will be faithful to the 1959 Broadway musical, which is slightly different from the movie version and will give viewers a little bit of Broadway from the comfort of their home. The special airs Thursday, December 5th from 8:00-11:00 p.m. on NBC. If you miss it, chances are good that the network will run a repeat.


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