There was a lot of controversy last night about the live broadcast. A lot of people loved it. A lot of people hated it. But one thing I can tell you for certain is that millions of people tuned in last night to watch a LIVE theatrical event that was NOT the Tony Awards (by the way, the non-theatre people don’t REALLY watch that. In fact, a lot of theatre people don’t even watch that anymore…). It was a musical, involving TONS of ACTUAL Broadway people. Real Broadway performs–Tony winners and nominees down to our favorite gypsy members. They performed live for the whole world to see and it was a gift to us.
If you didn’t like the production, or Carrie Underwood, I actually could care less. I am not here to argue with you about the quality of her acting, since that seemed to be most people’s complaint last night (those complaining about her singing are just looking for something to bitch about, get real). I will be the FIRST to tell you that we could’ve cast hundreds of Broadway girls in that role that would’ve far surpassed Carrie in acting. That is SO not the point. The point is that this could never have happened with one of those Broadway girls that “should have got the part” as many people wrote. There was no “should have got the part.” They didn’t hold auditions for Maria. They went to Carrie, they got Carrie, it ended there and they went on.
Beyond that, if you believe that this could have been put on prime time tv the way it was without someone of her star level, you’re absolutely out of your mind. Sorry, but it’s true. We can’t even put on the Tony Awards without it being led by a star, and that’s on a Sunday night in June that has been ours for over 60 years. This was a Thursday night in HOLIDAY season. I’m sorry, but if you cannot see the beauty of this, I truly feel bad for you.
I am the first to admit that I am a picky picky picky theatre goer. You all know that, because you see me talk about it. If you’re here on this site, you probably read my reviews. I do not sugar coat my theatre, but I would like to point out a few differences for ya:
1. This is not a Broadway show. Yes, it was live theatre, but they had to perform with no audience. That is HARD.
2. They did not charge for tickets. Do you know how amazing it is to see all those performers for FREE? Someone paid for this FOR us.
3. This was done live with no chance for an out of town try out, or preview. You know how we don’t write reviews prior to press performances? It’s because it’s a gentleman’s agreement in the industry. The team KNOWS there will be issues, so we silently promise not to tear them apart until they’ve had time to get their sea legs.
I could go on, but I’m just getting more and more frustrated as I type. A lot of people tried to down play the importance of talking about this last night and I think that’s just strange. I kept seeing tweets like, “Lalala here’s my really important opinion on Sound of Music Live.” Ummmm…it IS really important! If even WE don’t care about this kind of stuff, how can we expect the rest of the country to care and tune in? And if they don’t care and tune in, how can we expect those producers who were brave enough to try something like this to do it again?
Our industry isn’t a thriving one. It may look like sunshine and rainbows from the outside, but working on the inside teaches you things. I hate to use the word jaded, but it does appear many of us have become that way. I am actually sad about that.
Everyone is entitled to their own opinion about the performances–that much we can agree on, I think (though after some of the ridiculous things that were said last night, I’m not sure there is a lot we can agree on). Furthermore, Carrie Underwood’s career is definitely not hurt by her performance in The Sound of Music whether you liked it or no. I hate to say it, but she actually did the theatre world a favor, by bringing all her fans to our event, so thanks Carrie for that (in case you’re wondering, a LOT of people love her).
I don’t want you all to have the same opinion as me, or even each other. Think what you want about the show, but agree at least that it was a gift. Because it was. It’s been 50 years since the last live television broadcast of a musical. That means if the trend continues this way I will be in my 70s before it happens again. Many of you will, too. I hope that’s not the case. the way entertainment is rapidly changing makes me think we need to catch up or suffer. Maybe I’m wrong. I hope I’m wrong.
Anyway, onto the cd review.
This is a really quality recording, first of all. Everything is tip-top. It sounds better than a lot of cast recordings, at least quality wise, so we’ll start there. Second, I cannot find fault with anything that begins with Audra McDonald chanting a hymn. Many people said it last night–she is a national treasure. There is no beating her. She is the best of the best in our industry and this was perfect casting. Not because I ever thought of Audra as Mother Abbess, I did not–I wouldn’t have, BUT she’s perfect. Her voice is now the only one I can hear singing those classic songs, so I’m glad to have that on my iPod this morning.
Carrie Underwood sounds phenomenal. Say what you want about her acting, but vocals are her bread and butter. She may have been nervous on the live broadcast, but on this album her vocals are impeccable and flawless. She just feels right for Maria.
The original placement of the song “My Favorite Things” made it so that we got a duet by these phenomenal vocalist. It threw me off originally, not because I didn’t know the song went there, but because like most people the version I have in my head at all times is Julie Andrews’. I thought to myself, maybe they should have given it the movie placement just for the masses to see that classic moment? But then no, Audra starts singing with her and everything in the world is good.
I think that “The Lonely Goatherd” is Carrie’s best. I think her vocals are great on all the songs, don’t get me wrong–but this is closest to what she does regularly (yodeling and country have a lot in common) and she just slayed it. When it ended, I wanted to stand up and cheer.
The kids are just great. Some of them are gonna be big stars when their time comes. Namely, Joe West, who is amazing as Kurt. He was great last night and it’s lovely to have him on the album, too.
I could go through song by song, but I’m not going to for a couple reasons. First of all–we all know these songs, you don’t need me to tell you that Rodgers and Hammerstein are geniuses who made our world better one perfect melody at a time (if you do, there, I just said it). You also don’t need me to tell you how great our Broadway babes sounded on each of theirs songs and as the chorus. I would like to point out how wonderful it was to have “No Way to Stop It” in this version, if only because it meant we got a duet from Laura Benanti and Christian Borle. The two of them are preeminent Broadway stars and having them in the same song is so cool for me.
My complaint about this album would be the vocals of Stephen Moyer. His weakness is especially evident when he’s singing a slow solo with Carrie or “Edelweiss” by himself. Luckily, “No Way to Stop It” allows him to do a little bit of speak-singing, but the other songs aren’t quite as forgiving. Oddly, unless I missed it, his Edelweiss solo isn’t on the cd, which actually doesn’t upset me, since that wasn’t a great part for me last night.
The last thing I’m going to say about this album is that “Climb Ev’ry Mountain” will never be the same now that Audra McDonald has recorded it. I will not be surprised if this becomes definitive recording of this song.