I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help. My help cometh from the Lord, which made heaven and earth. Psalm 121:1-2 (KJV)
It has been several days since NBC, Carrie Underwood, Audra McDonald and Stephen Moyer bravely took on the task of performing The Sound of Music live on television for millions of viewers and critics. There have been many critics of the show, and while I doubt that NBC will ever look at what I have written, I decided I needed to weigh in and not let the naysayers have all the attention. After all, the Sound of Music is my favorite musical. I can sing every song by heart and have friends to this day that will burst into song with me when we hear it as background noise in a restaurant. I know most of the dialogue as well. Julie Andrews will forever be my Maria (and also my Mary Poppins), but, that does not mean that I am unwilling to share the story with a new generation in a new way. I am a Sound of Music follower from its first appearance on film. Despite the fact that I have seen several versions of the play, including some Off Broadway productions as well as community theater, the film was and is my first love. Perhaps because I recognize the difference in the two mediums, I was prepared for the difference in Sound of Music Live so the narrowing of the scenery, the addition and order of the songs, and the change in ending were not as shocking to me as it was to some of my friends who know only the film version. If they were to do anything different, I think NBC might have done better in preparing viewers for the play when they were expecting the movie. The play is live theater, anything can and will happen. There are no retakes. No covering flubbed lines. No singing of one stanza and then taking a break for a drink of water. No editors choosing from the best footage to weave it into the movie. But, how many Americans have had the chance to see live theater in an age when film is king, animation and special effects have us spoiled into thinking what is real is not, and video games provide multiple chances to play the game over? When it comes to the casting critics, I think that Carrie Underwood did an excellent job with the vocals and carrying the story. While some complained that her acting was stiff, they need to remember that she is first of all a singer and second of all that she bore a heavy burden to make the performance right. Some have said that the live musical production would never have happened unless a performer of her caliber had not agreed to take the role. Think about the present big name performers in our world today. Who else could have transmitted the wholesome, eager character of Maria all the while, singing, dancing and running between costume changes? Brittney Spears? Lady Gaga? Casting the actor from True Blood as the Captain did give me some squiggies, but I think it is only because that is the only medium I have seen him in. I kept waiting for his fangs to come out, but then, I have only seen him play a vampire in my naivety, I think he is one! Other people were irritated with the commercials, but really, someone had to pay for the show! We did not pay an admission fee; the companies who paid for the advertising covered that for us. But, someone took great care to screen the commercials and all of them were positive and about family and relationships. Even the insurance company’s ad talked about how bad things happen in this world, but that should not keep us from focusing on the good in our lives, particularly the people who love us. My main criticism would be of the costumes some of which I found distracting like Rolf’s shorts and the costumes made from the pink embroidered curtains. Yes, I know the story called for curtains, but those were a little too much for me. Bottom line? I think the world today needs more Sound of Music than critics nitpicking every flaw. The Captain’s bravery and patriotism. His willingness to stand against evil no matter what the cost. Maria’s ability to set aside her fears and look at the positive side of life. Her decision to do what God called her to do instead of what she planned for her life. Their reliance on God and Scripture comes through so strongly in the play rather than in the movie version. What a treat to have it replayed on television for a whole new group of followers! I found the whole experience to be a good one and suggest that those who don’t be required to find the sponsors, create the sets and scenery and perform in the entire play themselves if they think that they can do it better.