Friday, December 13, 2013

Stick to what you know

(OR What I learned about writing and just about anything else in life from watching NBC's recent live production of The Sound of Music)

by Maria Geraci

I apologize to anyone in advance who's sick and tired of hearing about The Sound of Music, but I just can't help myself.

So here goes.

First let me begin by saying I adore The Sound of Music. The movie, that is. I admit to never having seen a live production of it on stage. Most likely because it's an older play and not done very much anymore. I love musical theater and never miss a chance to see a local production of almost anything. My best days visiting New York are the days when we have tickets to a Broadway musical. When I first heard that NBC was doing a live production of The Sound of Music, I was ecstatic and immediately programmed my DVR to capture every second of the 180 minute show.

The night the show aired I was scheduled to work at the hospital (besides being a writer, I'm also a labor and delivery nurse. And yes, I know, I have the 2 best jobs in the whole wide world!).   So off I went to work feeling very bummed that the show couldn't have been scheduled for a night I wasn't working. The next morning I came home and immediately went to my computer (habit!) and was dismayed to find literally dozens of snarky FB posts criticizing the show. Or rather, dogging on Carrie Underwood, who had been chosen to play the lead role of Maria. I won't go into specifics. If you watched the show, you know what I'm talking about.

Now, I sort of get why the producers would think casting Carrie as the lead might be a good idea. She's popular, she's beautiful, and the girl can sing. Plus, there's that whole audience out there that might not watch the show that would now watch it because of her. How sadly wrong the producers were. The demographic who watched the show really could care less who played Maria. They just wanted good theater.

While Carrie is indeed beautiful and can certainly sing, she can't act. At least not on live television, which I imagine is really hard to do. What this called for was a BROADWAY actress. You know, like Sutton Foster? Or even any of the dozens or hundreds of hungry actresses who beat the Broadway path daily waiting for their big break who have the chops and know how to pull off what was certainly one of the bravest things any network has done lately. And for that I certainly commend NBC.

The moral of this whole thing? Stick to what you know. Or at least, what you know you can do well. Will this hurt Carrie Underwood? Absolutely not. Her demographic doesn't care if she bombed played Maria on TSOM. They only care about her next country music album. Will it hurt the credibility of network TV when (and if ) they try to do another live musical theater production? Sad to say, it probably will.

On a high note. While Carrie wasn't the best Maria, there were some really stand out performances. The best being multiple Tony and Grammy winner, Audra McDonald, who played the Mother Superior. Wow. This girl can SING. And ACT. And just WOW. Her rendition of Climb Every Mountain brought tears to my eyes. It's worth seeing the show just to see her. Well done, NBC for casting a real pro there.

Maria Geraci writes fun, romantic women's fiction. You can visit her website at


  1. Maria,
    I watched the musical when it was on live and found the whole thing really intriguing... The Sound of Music has been one of my faves ever since I saw the Julie Andrews film in 3rd grade, and I have also seen it performed onstage a few times (most notably in Chicago some years ago with Marie Osmond as Maria von Trapp :). I agree that Carrie's singing is stronger than her acting and that Audra McDonald blew a lot of us away with her amazing voice and stage presence, but curiosity about the logistics of putting on a live show like this kept me watching all night. What an undertaking! Above all, I was impressed with the nerve of everyone involved (from the actors to the stage crew to NBC) for trying to bring live theater to TV. Imperfect as it may have been, it was certainly a fascinating viewing experience!!

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