The Sound of Music….Just a Few Random Thoughts.

Carrie underwoodNOTE: No diabetes stuff in this article—just some thoughts about The Sound of Music Live. 

In over 30 years a full-scale production of a musical had failed to find a way on to the TV screen and into our living rooms.  To be enjoyed, or as was the case last night, immediately judged.

My, how the times they are changing.

I was amazed how quickly people made their way to social media to crucify the performances, the show, the production, and almost anything else became fair game; and that was all occurring before the first commercial break.

I was left to chuckle as I read some of the posts. Many, I felt, were out there just to be….well….the first ones out there.  My goodness, this was a performance not a political attack on your personal beliefs; why so much venom in posts?  My. My. My.

My favorite post; “Absolute Idiots, what gives them the right to change the movie for TV?”—-uhm…that would be a ‘no’–as the movie changed the stage version to fit their needs.

My late Uncle was a two-time Obie Award winner who enjoyed an entire career/lifetime on the stage and screen. He, without a doubt, was my largest influence to ever enter the acting world.  He told me something once that I never forgot; “If you go to something to judge it, you probably should go into law.  Theatre is made to be appreciated.  Look and you will always find aspects to really appreciate.”

Were there problems with last night’s live production of the Sound of Music?  You bet there were.  But in a world when we scream for stars and productions to dare to be different, to try something new, to be bold; and then we proceed to decimate them brick by brick in the comforts and the safety of the computer keyboard, well I’m afraid many missed the boat.  The real loser in that approach will be us.  Do you think someone else would attempt this again after the social-media-lynching of so many involved with this production?  No, they won’t—and THAT will be our fault, as much as our loss.

No matter what you may have thought, if the Broadway Veterans who were so strong in this production (for the most part) were the only actors and Ms. Underwood was not; reality check—–no one is watching it.  Period.

Did you sit home last night?  Well Ms. Underwood did not.  She put it all out there on the line.  Her career, her reputation, and trust me she was not in need of the money.  Her voice was majestic every time she sang in a genre that was both foreign and new, and she did it in front of millions of people.  I watched from my couch.  I respect what she did.  Did she miss at times, yup, but so does every actor.    

If you have ever done any acting at all, you know the amount of work that goes into a production.  You know that feeling in your stomach when the stage manager yells ‘half-hour’ that creates excitement and fear, like nothing else you could imagine.  I respect the work of all those I saw last night; not easy. Millions of viewers became tens of thousands of critics on social media….even tougher.  I pray cell phones were turned off as actors were in their dressing rooms. 

If you have ever directed you know, I mean YOU REALLY KNOW, that anything said about the acting or the overall production falls on your shoulders more than on individuals’ performances.

It is your vision and drive that must get the actors ready for the performance.  If the actors are not there or if they fall short, it falls on your shoulders and any director worth a grain of salt knows that feeling and that responsibility.

People will say what they will about the performances in The Sound of Music Live, but my biggest critique is a different one than anything I have read.  Why ‘do’ this production in the way they did it at all?

Live theatre is just that; live. The audience is as much a part of a ‘live’ show; as the show itself.  Have you ever gone to the movies and seen a trailer about a one night only live performance at the Met?  Have you ever experienced those performances?


Why did they run this entire production as it would have been done in the 1960s?  Times have changed and doing a musical without a live audience was a death sentence for any performer.  To end any song and only hear ‘the buzz’ of the lighting equipment above was pure madness.

Non-musical, dramatic impact; sure-you bet.  A musical, sorry-nope!

Live theatre is just that, LIVE theatre.  I felt like I was watching a soap-opera-shoot-with-music.  Did it not have the feel of watching a soap opera to you?  Soap Operas are GREAT and they are shot that way for a reason, but not the same as a fully mounted musical.

This should have been shot in front of a live audience with the cameras in the locations to give people at home the full feeling of seeing this live-for-broadcast-theatrical-production; that means the audience being part just as they do for those one night only live-at-the-Met performances. 

Why did no one hire that group or utilize them as consultants at least.  Their expertise was the main ingredient missing last night and the entire production fell flat for lack of their much-needed input.  If more cameras were needed than usually used, fine; but to just have songs end and fade to commercial……sorry, it did not work for me.  How cool would it have been to hear the audience laugh, or applaud, or even cry along with us at home?

We were told that his would be special because it was directed by people who know live audiences like from SNL, but that was not what was needed; this production needed someone who knows what it is like to bring live full-scale productions to someone sitting in a seat outside of the building where the production takes place. 

You will always go to a show and like some aspects more than others; and some actors more than others.  The Sound of Music Live was no different. I respected some of the individual work more than others.  I respect the attempt made by all those in this production and surely I could make a list of ‘this, or that’ if I wanted.  But all-in-all I enjoyed watching much of the interactions of the actors and the singing was, for the most part, fabulous.  There was much to appreciate and I did so as I watched and as I was charged by my dear uncle years ago to do.

But two things failed me here more than anything else, the direction; and the attempt to bring something live into my living room. I feel what those saw on a tape delay on the West Coast of this production provided no different a feeling than I had watching it live.  And that was a big problem for me.

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