The Sound of Music Live!
|The Sound of Music Live!|
|Format||Live television special|
|Based on||The Sound of Music|
|Composer(s)||Rodgers and Hammerstein|
|Country of origin||United States|
Bethpage, New York
|Running time||135 minutes|
|Distributor||Universal Studios Home Entertainment|
|Picture format||Color, NTSC, Widescreen|
|Audio format||Dolby Digital 5.1|
|Original airing||December 5, 2013|
|The Sound of Music Live!|
The Sound of Music Live! is a television special that was originally broadcast by NBC on December 5, 2013. Produced by Craig Zadan and Neil Meron, the special was an adaptation of Rodgers and Hammerstein's Broadway musical The Sound of Music, starring country singer Carrie Underwood as Maria von Trapp, performed and televised live from Grumman Studios in Bethpage, New York.
The production was met with mixed reviews; much of its criticism was directed towards the casting of Carrie Underwood to play Maria, who critics (including the real-life von Trapp family) believed was not experienced enough in theatre to portray such an iconic role. While her vocal performances was universally praised, the acting performance of Underwood was described as being "amateur", "lifeless" and lacking emotion by critics. Despite these criticisms, the production was a ratings success for NBC; with a total of 18.62 million live viewers, The Sound of Music Live! brought the network its highest Thursday night viewership for an entertainment program since the series finale of Frasier in 2004, and prompted NBC to sign Zadan and Meron on to produce more live presentations of musicals for the network in the future.
Following its original airing, an encore presentation of The Sound of Music Live! aired on December 14, 2013. It notably displaced one of NBC's two traditional airings of the film It's a Wonderful Life (the other being on Christmas Eve), which was bumped ahead to December 20, 2013.
When Maria Rainer, a postulants at Nonnberg Abbey, is sent by the Mother Abbess to be a governess for the naval officer, Captain Georg von Trapp as a test of her commitment to the religious life, she finds that he has emotionally closed himself off since the passing of his wife and decides to teach his children the basics of singing to gain their trust and acceptance.
A month later the Captain returns home with Elsa Schraeder, whom he is courting, and their friend Max Detweiler, who is looking for the perfect local singing group to perform at the annual Kaltzberg Festival. When his children arrive dressed in clothes Maria had made from her old bedroom curtains he is outraged and embarrassed. Maria then confronts him and tells him how he does not know or understand his children and that they need him but this only upsets him more and he orders her to return to Nonnberg Abbey. However, upon hearing his children sing to Schraeder, his eyes are open to the truth Maria had been speaking and he embraces his children and ask Maria to stay on as governess.
He then throws a grand party for Schraeder and when the band plays the Ländler, the Captain's youngest son ask Maria to teach him the dance and the Captian steps in to help. As the two dance an unspoken attraction begins to arise in the two and Maria puts a stop to the dancing. However, this unspoken attraction did not go unnoticed by Marta who confronts Maria on this. Though Maria strongly denies it she begins to realize that Marta is telling the truth. Then Schraeder calls the children out to say good night to the guest and Max is instantly smittened with the idea to have the children sing in the festival and during all the hussle and bussle Maria sneaks off unnoticed and returns to the Abbey, where she confides in the Mother Abbess that she has fallen in love with the captain but that she is ready to take the orders of poverty, obedience and chastity. The Mother Abbess denies her this and encourages her to take face her problem head on and to find the life she was born to live.
Maria then returns to the Von Trapp home and is warmly greeted by the children, who no longer feel the joys of singing due to her sudden departure. When she finds out that the Captain intends to marry Schraeder she decides to see her duties through until arrangements can be made for a new governess. However, the political differences between Schraeder and the Captain cause the two to realize that they have no future together and she leaves while the Captain confronts Maria and the two admit their feelings for each other. The two agree to marry at the Abbey and while the two are on honeymoon Germany invades Austria. When they return the captain is ordered to accept a commission in the German Navy and report immediately to Bremerhaven. Maria, thinking quickly hands the Admiral the program for the Festival showing that the Trapp Family Singers are scheduled to perform, so he couldn’t possibly leave right away. They are granted permission to perform and when Max announces that a guard of honor is waiting to escort the Captain away as soon as the concert is over Maria leads the family in one more song to which they escape to one by one and flee to the Abbey. The Nazi soldiers search the Abbey for the von Trapps to no avail and the family decides to flee Austria through the mountain with Maria's help.
Cast and crew
- Jessica Molaskey as Sister Berhe
- Elena Shaddow as Sister Sophia
- Christiane Noll as Sister Margaretta
- Ariane Rinehart as Liesl von Trapp
- Michael Nigro as Friedrich von Trapp
- Ella Watts-Gorman as Louisa von Trapp
- Joe West as Kurt von Trapp
- Sophia Anne Caruso as Brigitta von Trapp
- Grace Rundhaug as Marta von Trapp
- Peyton Ella as Gretl von Trapp
- Michael Campayno as Rolf
- Sean Cullen as Franz
- Kristine Nielsen as Frau Schmidt
- C.J. Wislon as Herr Zeller
- Michael Park as Baron Elberfeld
- Paula Leggett Chase as Baroness Elberfeld and a nun
- John Bolger as Admiral von Scheiber
Benanti had previously portrayed Maria von Trapp on Broadway in 1998. Craig Zadan and Neil Meron, who had previously worked with Borle on the NBC musical drama television series Smash, served as executive producers. Other credits include Rob Ashford and Beth McCarthy-Miller as directors, Ashford also was the choreographer, Priscilla Taussig served as producer, David Chase as music director and Derek McLane as production designer. Catherine Zuber was costume designer and Bernie Telsey was the casting director. The production is taken from the book by Howard Lindsay and Russel Crouse and is based off the memoir, The Story of the Trapp Family Singers by Maria von Trapp.
Development and promotion
On June 30, 2012, NBC's chairman Bob Greenblatt announced the network's plans to broadcast a live adaptation of the Broadway musical The Sound of Music in 2013. On November 30, 2012, the network announced that country music performer Carrie Underwood would star as Maria von Trapp in the production. In a statement, Greenblatt justified Underwood's involvement, saying that "[Maria] was an iconic woman who will now be played by an iconic artist." On September 16, 2013, NBC revealed the full cast of the special, and released a promotional image depicting Underwood as Maria von Trapp, wearing blond braids and a dirndl, referencing one of Julie Andrews' "most iconic moments" from the film adaptation. According to Underwood, prior to being cast she went and asked Andrews if she could do the role and Andrews approved of her casting and the airing of the televised event. Underwood stated "Whenever I do a cover of somebody's song or whatever, I always get permission of the artist first."
Produced on a budget of around $9 million, The Sound of Music Live! was broadcast live from a soundstage built at Grumman Studios in Bethpage, New York. Zadan considered it to be "one of the profoundly complicated, amazing experiences we’ve ever had", noting the additional challenges created by the live broadcast. The producers also noted that while promoting the special, they and NBC particularly emphasized that the production was not a remake of the film, but the actual musical itself. Neil Meron believed that "what we are hoping is in success that we open the door to another kind of entertainment that can exist on TV. I think that the audience will discover, within the first few minutes of watching the show, that they are not seeing a TV version of the movie. They'll know right away it's The Sound of Music, but it's a different Sound of Music than they are accustomed to seeing on film." Meron also praised the involvement of Underwood as the star of the production, believing that she was a quick learner, and "has all of the qualities of Maria." NBC Entertainment president Robert Greenblatt was highly supportive of the project, as he was, in the words of Zadan, a "passionate devotee of theater".
Promoted by NBC as a "three-hour holiday event", The Sound of Music Live! was aired as part of a push by NBC to air more live entertainment specials. Among its most popular programs in recent years have been those with live components (such as The Voice and Sunday Night Football); NBC's Jennifer Salke believed that the increased level of social network interaction possible in a live broadcast, along with the feeling of being part of an "event", would encourage viewers to watch the special live instead of on-demand or from a recording. NBC's previous attempt at a live event, The Million Second Quiz, was met with mixed reviews and viewership, but NBC did indicate that Subway's advertising throughout the series brought a higher level of awareness to the brand. The television special is also the first live musical special in almost fifty years to air live on NBC.
Retail chain Walmart served as the presenting sponsor for The Sound of Music Live!. NBC also produced five themed Walmart commercials to air throughout the special, featuring scenes of a family using products from the store set to songs from The Sound of Music. The five ads were timed to air during the commercial break following the scene where the song was featured; NBC's advertising chief Dan Lovinger considered the ads to be a way to "enhance the excitement" of the presentation for families.
- The list of musical numbers is taken from the actual broadcast and are in order as they appear in the broadcast and include the characters' names who perform the song.
- "Preludium" – Nuns
- "The Sound of Music" – Maria
- "Maria" – Sister Berthe, Sister Sophia, Sister Margaretta, and the Mother Abbess
- "My Favorite Things" – Maria and the Mother Abbess
- "My Favorite Things" (reprise 1) – Maria
- "Do-Re-Mi" – Maria and the children
- "Sixteen Going on Seventeen" – Rolf and Liesl
- "The Lonely Goatherd" – Maria and the children
- "How Can Love Survive" – Max and Elsa
- "The Sound of Music" (reprise) – The children, the Captain, and Maria
- "The Grand Waltz" (instrumental)
- "Ländler" (instrumental)
- "So Long, Farewell" – The children
- "Climb Ev'ry Mountain" – Mother Abbess
- "The Lonely Goatherd" (reprise) – Max and the children
- "Do-Re-Mi" (reprise) - The children
- "Do-Re-Me" (reprise 2) - The Captain
- "The Sound of Music" (reprise 2) - The Captain and the children
- "My Favorite Things" (reprise) - The children and Maria
- "No Way to Stop It" – Elsa, Max and the Captain.
- "Something Good" – Maria and the Captain
- "Processional" – Nuns
- "Maria" (reprise) – Nuns
- "Sixteen Going on Seventeen" (reprise) – Maria and Liesl
- "Do-Re-Mi" (reprise 3) – Maria, the children, and the Captain
- "Edelweiss" – The Captain, Maria, and the children
- "So Long, Farewell" (reprise) – Maria, the children, and the Captain
- "Finale Ultimo: Climb Ev'ry Mountain" - Nuns
- "End Credits" (instrumental)
Prior to the broadcast, members of the real-life von Trapp family were critical of casting Underwood to play Maria, agreeing with the notion that she would be a good singer but a poor actor. They suggested that Anne Hathaway, who played Fantine in the 2012 film adaptation of Les Misérables for which she won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress, would have been a better choice. The Sound of Music Live! received mixed reviews from entertainment critics, commending the show for its scope and supporting cast while questioning Underwood's acting capabilities.
Kevin Fallon of The Daily Beast wrote: "Naturally, Underwood sounded astounding, as alive as those damned hills, every time she was asked to stand on top of things and belt. But whether it was because of nerves or lack of experience, her acting was painfully lifeless and amateur throughout the first two thirds of the lengthy ordeal. The singer, it seems, is a proud graduate of the school of 'If I don't blink, they'll think I'm acting!'" Verne Gay of Newsday liked Underwood's performance, commenting that not only could she sing, but "she is a luminous stage presence who had the guts to take on one of the most iconic roles of the stage or screen."
Brian Lowry of Variety described the production "as lifeless as [its] alpine backdrops." Marc Bernardin of The Hollywood Reporter commended the production's aesthetics but called it a "very expensive karaoke", and he wrote that Underwood "doesn’t acquit herself so well when it comes to the carrying the emotional weight of the production." He also panned Moyer, criticizing his vocal performance and describing "his attempt at conveying an emotional hollowness" as "mildly constipated" and "clenched." However, he lauded Benanti, Borle and McDonald's "strong" performances.
18.62 million viewers watched The Sound of Music Live! and the broadcast had a 4.6 rating in the 18–49 demographic (where it was beaten by The Big Bang Theory). It was the most-watched program of the night and had the largest non-sports Thursday audience for NBC since "Goodnight, Seattle", the series finale of Frasier in 2004 (which averaged 22.6 million viewers). It was also NBC's most-watched non-sports show on any night since its 2007 Golden Globes broadcast. The show performed the best with women in the 25–54 demographic, reaching a household rating of 7.0 for that demographic during the primetime broadcast. It did particularly well in Oklahoma City, the capital of Underwood's home state, where it was watched by 28% of TV viewers. At least 38.69 million viewers watched a portion of The Sound of Music Live!. Factoring in DVR viewership over the week following the broadcast, the special was viewed by 21.84 million, with 3.1 million within the first three days. The rebroadcast on December 14, 2013 attracted 3.1 million viewers.
NBC's Bob Greenblatt considered the production to be a success and signed Meron and Zadan to produce another live musical for the 2014 holiday season. Greenblatt stated that there are enough recognizable, family-friendly musicals to make events like The Sound of Music Live! an annual tradition, and he indicated that NBC received e-mails and phone calls from various theatrical rightsholders who expressed interest in having their musicals adapted in a similar fashion.
After the broadcast of The Sound of Music Live!, ABC's annual broadcast of the 1965 film version of The Sound of Music received its highest-rated airing of the film since 2007, with 6.5 million viewers and a 1.3 share.
|This section requires expansion with: Additional accolades. (July 2014)|
The broadcast has been nominated for four Emmy Awards for the 66th Primetime Emmy Awards. It has been nominated for Outstanding Music Direction, Outstanding Directing for a Variety Special, Outstanding Special Class Program and Outstanding Technical Direction, Camerawork, Video Control for a Miniseries, Movie, or Special.
A soundtrack for the broadcast was released on December 3, 2013 and consists of 22 studio recordings. A nine track bonus instrumental CD was released with the soundtrack exclusively to Walmart stores and Walmart.com. It peaked at number 17 on the Billboard 200 and number 2 on the Billboard Soundtracks chart. The soundtrack has sold 103,000 copies as of January 2, 2014.
Home media release
A DVD of the special was released on December 17, 2013, through Universal Studios Home Entertainment. The DVD includes a behind-the-scenes look, titled "The Making of The Sound of Music Live!" and a preview of the soundtrack. It was released on DVD in Canada on January 7, 2014.
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