One of the toughest things any artist can undertake is to try and redo a classic while putting their personal stamp of individuality on it. In the world of television and movie entertainment it rarely works out.
Namely it is up to the remake to equal or surpass the original. Anything less than that will be deemed a failure or if not an out and out failure it will still suffer in comparison.
With that in mind the folks at NBC took a gamble and decided to remake one of the all time classics: The Sound Of Music. The story of the Von Trapp family was first introduced on the big screen in 1965 and became one of the blockbusters of its time. So much so that it is still shown on television every year. Julie Andrews and Christopher Plummer along with a terrific cast left an indelible impression then and now.
NBC didn’t just decide to remake it. They also fixed upon the idea to broadcast it live for three hours (minus the commercials) and cast Carrie Underwood in the Julie Andrews role.
The results? Well let’s just say Underwood is no Julie Andrews but she knew that and acknowledged it before going in. She was a little shaky in the beginning as you would expect. Underwood has never done live theater but showed a lot of courage tackling the role. As the production went on Underwood started to grow more confident and really get into the spirit of it. What could have been a disaster turned into a decent outing.
Stephen Moyer as Captain Von Trapp also seemed to be trying to find his footing in the early going but find it he did. His strongest moment came towards the end when he was on stage in front of a Nazi audience singing Edelweiss. When he looked and saw the Nazi flag, Moyer got choked up. He realized the country he loved and had fought for was being taken away from him by a gang of criminals and people he once called friends. It is a powerful scene.
Speaking of which they’re probably going to be talking about Audra McDonald’s stunning rendition of Climb Every Mountain for a long time to come. A definite show stopper.
Kudos also to the Von Trapp children with a special nod to Sophia Ann Caruso. This young actress added some nice touches to her character. The same should be said for the Baroness played beautifully by Laura Beneti. Not to forget Christian Borle as Max who goes from telling Captain Von Trapp to deal with the impending takeover of Austria to making the ultimate sacrifice so his friend could escape.
Great lightning, costumes and tremendous set design should at least get Emmy nominations. My biggest gripe is as the credits were rolling the producers felt the need to show us the light rehearsal moments. Wrong. The best thing they could have done is leave viewers with the lasting images of what they just put on the screen. Anything less ruins the mood.
Of course the producers and everyone else involved are going to take a lot of flak for casting someone like Carrie Underwood in this role. And of course since they are remaking a classic you can expect a lot of criticism. Some warranted most of it probably not given we live in snarky times. No it’s not going to make anyone forget the original but as Julie Andrews said recently, “Fifty years later, it’s time somebody had another crack at it.”
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