A lot of us winced when this project was announced. Now it looks like it’s actually going to happen, airing live on December 5.
From executive producers Craig Zadan and Neil Meron (“Smash,” “Hairspray,” “Chicago”) comes an instant holiday classic: “The Sound of Music,” based on the original Broadway musical. Carrie Underwood and Stephen Moyer star as Maria and Captain von Trapp in this beloved story of the young novice who falls in love with Captain von Trapp and his seven children, set against the backdrop of Nazi-occupied Austria. The jewel in the Rodgers and Hammerstein crown, “The Sound of Music” contains some of the most famous songs ever written for the stage, including “The Sound of Music,” “My Favorite Things,” “Do-Re-Mi,” “Sixteen Going on Seventeen,” “Climb Every Mountain” and “Edelweiss.”
This new version of “The Sound of Music” will be a faithful adaptation of the original stage musical, to retell the story for a whole new generation. And more than that, it will be broadcast LIVE, adding a whole new level of immediacy and excitement. Get ready to reintroduce your family to the most joyful, most emotional and most musical family adventure of them all. Three-hour live event.
What may be most intriguing, though, is the “color-blind” casting of the Mother Abbess, with acclaimed Broadway performer Audra McDonald donning the wimple to sing “Climb Every Mountain.” The film’s producers have experimented with this before—remember Brandy and Whitney Houston in “Cinderella”?—but the idea of a black nun in Austria in the 1930s may be a bigger stretch.
McDonald talks about it in the Los Angeles Times:
You’ll be playing Mother Abbess in NBC’s live production of “The Sound of Music” on Dec. 5 opposite Carrie Underwood as Maria. Is that a role you’ve always wanted to play?
I grew up with it; but it’s certainly never a role I thought I’d be in! For obvious reasons. I have to credit Neil [Meron] for thinking outside of the box and inviting me to be part of it. Most people only know the movie version, so they think of Mother Abbess as this 70-year-old woman; but in the staged version, the first woman to ever play her was 43 years old. And that’s right where I am.
I also have ideas about where she’s come from and what her life has been, what in her past life led her to put on the habit and take on this lifestyle. I feel like when she guides Maria and pushes her toward living a life outside the convent, I think she does it with some sort of knowledge about what lies beyond the convent walls. She did it, she knows it and she chose the convent walls — that makes her more interesting to me.
Does the live-broadcasting element make you nervous?
No. I’ve done so many “Live From Lincoln Centers”; I’ve also done fully staged, costumed productions that were broadcast live. It’ll be performed on a soundstage, then broadcast live while we’re doing it. But we’re approaching it as if it were a staged night in the theater. I think it’s going to be a big challenge, it’s a huge task, but I’m excited about it. It’s a very diverse cast and it’s going to be fun. It doesn’t scare me.