Last week, the TV presented us with a new performance of Rogers and Hammerstein’s classic musical, The Sound Of Music, starring Carrie Underwood as Maria. Now, from the previews, I had no expectation that this was going to be any good, so we did not watch it when it aired. However, after reading some of the reviews and tweets, even cynical old me had to think: “It couldn’t have been THAT bad!” And since you can find anything online these days, we looked it up and watched. Yes, it was that bad. Maybe worse.
Let me preface by saying that this was (loosely) based on the stage version, rather than the film which most people are familiar with. I have seen both, and have listened to both stage and film soundtracks many times. I prefer the film for a couple reasons. One, Julie Andrews. I mean, Mary Martin was not bad, but Julie is one of my idols. Christopher Plummer didn’t hurt, either. Two, I think the story was better served in the film version. The stuff cut from the stage play was, really, extraneous and didn’t really do much for it. The songs left out of the film version weren’t missed. I can go either way on replacing An Ordinary Couple with Something Good, though I do prefer the latter. Okay, fast forward to last week. New version, new “stars,” gotta do something different, right? *sigh*
I could deal with that. Really. A little tweak here or there, sure. But they stripped all of the tension out of the Nazi invasion and conscription of Captain Von Trapp. It felt more like a romp than an escape. And there were just too many modern touches in there, from costuming to characterization that just didn’t fit with still saying this was 1938 Austria. The singing was meh, at best. The nuns’ Latin was pretty bad in spots, but I accept that is nit-picking, and most wouldn’t even notice. But there was a fair amount of sloppy diction from some of the lesser characters, and principle or not, I don’t excuse that lightly. The children were pretty bad. None of them could sing. Okay, maybe one. Liesl’s version of Sixteen Going On Seventeen here made her look like more a tease than a girl experiencing her first love. Oh, and Captain Von Trapp? Yeesh. Yes, he’s stiff and regimental, but they may as well have saved some money and used one of those life-size cardboard cutouts, and dubbed the dialogue in. Carrie Underwood? She can sing, no doubt about that. Yes, they pitched the songs down because she doesn’t have Julie Andrews’ range. I’d rather that then hear someone trying to screech out a note that just isn’t there. But acting is just not her best trick. Actually, most of the acting was less than inspiring. They all Tried. So. Very. Hard. And, of course, that just left it too obvious that they were acting, and not fitting into the roles easily. Costuming? All I will say is that was the poorest choice of wedding dress ever, and they must have bought out every craft store in the area to get that much gold braid and glitter for his dress uniform. He actually sparkled. I thought there must have been a glitch and we were suddenly watching Twilight.
I love Broadway musicals. Sound of Music has always been a particular favorite. This, however- Dear God. I understand it brought in mega-ratings, and speculation is there will be more like it. If so, please, consider hiring people who can act, have at least passable singing voices, and pay attention to the actual story. As I posted on Facebook after watching this one: Rogers and Hammerstein, I am so sorry.