The Top 11 Things That Made “The Sound of Music: LIVE” an Epic Trainwreck
About 6 minutes into watching The Sound of Music: Live on NBC Thursday night, I sat at my laptop and posted this on Facebook: “Carrie Underwood as Maria? Jesus, please take the wheel, because this girl cannot act. Thoughts?” Well, for the next 3 hours, my friends and I watched the trainwreck unfold from our various homes and apartments, in various parts of the country, leaving hundreds of comments on my thread and other threads, too. Twitter also went crazy with hilarious and scathing tweets and opinions about the modern version of this amazing classic story. I began to receive text messages from a few fellow theatre and comedian-type friends – like my own personal play-by-play of the unintentionally hysterical production that was happening – live!!! – right before our very eyes. It was cool. It was fun. Suddenly, all of us were watching together, although not together physically – and we were laughing our collective asses off.
Now, I am sure that somewhere, in a tiny little town filled with people who have never seen a musical, and know nothing at all about acting skills, costumes, set design, singing, direction, or a person called Julie Andrews – there may be 4 or 5 randoms who actually somehow enjoyed this TV remake and thought it was quite innocent and harmless and didn’t hurt anybody. But they would be very wrong. This was the Sharknado of musicals, and an event unlike any other, that lots of us will remember for a long, long time. So today, I would like to present to you, with the help of some non-famous people (my friends) and their hilarious tweets, texts, and FB comments, my list of things that made this production such a huge and unmistakable trainwreck. As always, my lists are not typical Top 10 Lists. In honor of my late husband, who loved a good trainwreck and whose favorite comedy movie was This Is Spinal Tap, my Top 10 Lists are not Top 10 Lists. “These go to eleven… ”
1. THE SET:
Yes, I do realize that this was a live theatre production that happened to be airing on television, so the set is limited in its design and variety, but come on. The set looked like something out of a bad soap opera, or something that they spent a good $57 to build. Was I watching The Sound of Music or The Bold and the Beautiful? The inside of the Von Trapp’s home and foyer/living room area was so cheesy looking, but even worse were the extremely fake-looking outdoor settings that were supposed to resemble gorgeous mountains, woods, and the Alps. Instead, it looked like a paint-by-number or something created by a 7 year old and his Lite Bright. Several times, when Maria was singing in the hills at the beginning – she looked like she was seconds away from falling flat on her face after tripping over some of that fake astroturf.
2. THE SOUND:
Were these people not aware that this would be aired – live – on national television? Because it seemed like their production team just wasn’t technically ready or prepared for what that would actually be like. As my friend Robert Verdi pointed out in my FB thread: “I think someone forgot to check the sound levels. The background music is totally overwhelming the singing.” This was especially apparent in the last “concert” scene, where the Von Trapp family performs for the town. The sound was all over the place. Maybe I’m crazy, but if you’re going to re-do a classic musical on national TV – live – maybe you should think about not having your sound guy be the 16-year-old neighborhood kid whose resume consists of being in charge of the one microphone for his own at-home podcast. Just a thought.
3. THE COSTUMES:
Oh boy. Where to begin. Nothing about the costume choices made any sort of sense. Everybody looked like they were from a completely different era or time period than the person standing right next to them, and many of the characters, especially Maria, were hardly ever dressed in clothing that was even slightly period appropriate or accurate. It was like the costume people just walked into a room with clothing in it, and blindly and randomly chose things without looking. The many hilarious comments made all over social media by my circle of friends on the topic of costumes speak for themselves:
“17 going on 18 is too old for shorts” – Janine Eggers.
“What’s with the double-breasted suit from Men’s Warehouse? ‘Captain, you’re gonna like the way you look. I guarantee it!” – Shawn Mahoney.
“Why the hell did Maria just return from the Abbey in a smart-looking business suit from Dress Barn? Wait, now she’s randomly Alice in Wonderland. Now she’s in a silk blouse and pencil skirt! What era is this???” – Kelley Lynn.
“Why is that guy dressed as Indiana Jones?” – Paula Tamburro.
“The dude with the glasses looks like Rooster from Annie.” – Beth May.
“WTF? Was he really just wearing a Navy Civil War frock coat?” – Johnathan Corrales.
“Think they’ll give Rolf some pants if he actually gets into the Army?’ – Beth Coyne Lewis.
4. THE ACCENTS:
Again – all over the place, and no authenticity. Carrie Underwood slipped into her twang a few times too many to be believable, and everyone else in the cast sounded as if they were from completely different places and countries! “Why is the Captain British?” – Emily Marie. “And why does Maria have a southern accent if she grew up in The Alps?” – Janine Eggers. “It’s The Nanny!” – Beth May.
5. THE LACK OF CHEMISTRY:
The chemistry between … well … everyone … was sorely lacking. But perhaps the best example of awful chemistry was that between Maria and the Captain. First of all, the Captain seemed rather … well … gay-ish. He didn’t really seem to be into The Baroness OR Maria. He was making eyes at the dude from Smash, if anything. (And the fruit doesn’t fall far from the tree, as Kurt is pretty much the most effeminate of all the Von Trapp children. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.) Secondly, the scenes between Maria and the Captain lacked any sort of passion or romance or urgency. In order for this story to work, we have to believe wholeheartedly that this woman, Maria, is responsible for bringing the music and joy back into the Captain’s life, after losing his wife and becoming a widower. He treats his own children like military and doesn’t bother getting to know them, because they remind him of his late wife. Then Maria enters their lives, and we are to believe that they both save each other through love. And it’s a beautiful story. But only if the two leads can carry not only a tune, but the deep and confusing emotions they both go through in discovering their love for one another. I didn’t believe for one second that there was anything at all between them. Neither did my pals:
“The chemistry between Maria and the Captain is about as exciting as a napkin.” – Kelley Lynn.
“Really? You stand half a stage across from each other while giving this declaration of love – then french kiss a nun on your first kiss? Thats the direction you were given?” – Misty Corrales.
6. GRETL VON TRAPP:
She wasn’t exactly adorable looking, she sang off-key, and she delivered her speaking lines extremely weird.
7. THE CAPTAIN’S YELLING:
Why on earth was he screaming every single line of dialogue in anger? He looked like he was about to pop a vein, especially when yelling at his own children or at Maria, whom he is supposed to be in love with. I didn’t get “love,” just aggressiveness for no reason. Dude, we know things are a bit stressful with the Nazis and Germany and your love for your great country and all, but chill the hell out. You’re scaring poor Kurt. He is very sensitive.
8. LIVE, BUT FELT FLAT:
Because the “play” was performed on live TV, but shot like a film, pretty much everything that happened felt very flat and filled with void and echo. No audience, no laughter, no energy. And then suddenly, the camera would pan to a different part of the “set” when it transitioned from one scene to the next. It just felt very …. weird. Each time right before a commercial break, I almost felt a strong sense of awkwardness for the entire cast. I kind of felt bad for them. I kept wondering if any of them knew mid-way through what a massive mistake this actually was. Then I pictured Julie Andrews sitting in her flat somewhere, filling herself up with tea and crumpets and laughing her British ass off. That made me happy.
9. THE STAGE SHOWS KIND OF SUCKS COMPARED TO THE CLASSIC FILM VERSION:
I am a huge fan of the original film with Julie Andrews and Christopher Plummer. I have actually never seen the stage version, and I found out while watching on Thursday, that was also the case with a lot of people I was speaking with. The movie has become so iconic and so celebrated and such a tradition for so many of us, it was almost like I took it personally when the Captain didn’t sing Edelweiss in that vulnerable way in their family room, or when we didn’t get to see the kids climbing in trees or rowing boats and singing in the beautiful mountains of Austria with Maria. I hated that there were no puppets to yodel with during Lonely Goatherd, because the stage version has Maria singing it with the children in her bedroom, instead of at the concert. LAME! Everything also seemed all scrambled around and weird as far as plot goes. When Maria decides to leave and go back to the Abbey, it seems to come out of nowhere, and it seems incredibly unrealistic that young Brigitta would be the one to tell Maria that her father is in love with her. In the movie version, it is the Baroness who tells her, knowing it will make her leave. I also really missed the song I Have Confidence, which isn’t in the stage version – and I felt like I was slapped in the face with disappointment when Maria never sang My Favorite Things to the children – ever! She sings it , instead, in the Abbey, to Mother Abbess! How does THAT make any sense? So yeah, the play kind of blows.
10. THE VERY FACT THAT IT HAPPENED AT ALL:
Why did this occur? Why? Why remake this classic? I didnt see the point of it from the second I heard about it, and I pretty much knew I would be really disappointed. I never expected it to be THAT much of a trainwreck , but I knew it would be bad. Here are some especially hilarious comments from others I was watching with, virtually, on the general suckiness of the overall production:
“Why are these kids such pussies about a little thunder anyway? Was their mom struck by lightning?” – Shawn Mahoney.
“I’m gonna need something much stronger than tea with jam and bread to make it through this.” – Kelley Lynn
“Is the Captain’s first name GAYHOG???” – Molly Fisher
“I think Reverend Mother is lifting her eyes to pray this is over soon.” – Jennifer Branstetter
“The stormtroopers are searching the Abbey for talent. ‘No talent in here. Move it along ….’” – Kelley Lynn
“Von Crapp.” – Todd Rosen
“I hope Rolf turns them in to the Nazis soon.” – Anon
“I need to find the original so I can attempt to undo the harm this has done to my daughter.” – Andrea Roy
“I might start cutting myself.” – Johnathan Corrales
“If I were playing The Baroness, I would have left before my first entrance. She had to have known that this ship was sinking.” – Janine Eggers
and FINALLY ………
11. CARRIE UNDERWOOD:
It was like watching a paper towel with feet. A singing paper towel with feet. She has a nice voice. She does. But the girl cannot act if the Von Trapp’s lives depended on it, and unfortunately, this entire experiment depended on it. Zero passion. No soul. Just … not good. I felt uncomfortable every time she spoke, like I was being punked , or like the whole thing was just a big practical joke. There were some pretty epic lines about her performance on social media, so I will end this list and this article with the best of those. And then I will hope and pray that nobody else has to witness anything on this level of horrible ever again. Nobody deserves that.
“How many trees had to die for her to be that wooden?” – Misty Corrales
“Carrie Made-of-Wood” – Anon
“Is it me, or did the look in Mother Superior’s eyes (Audra MacDonald) say: ‘That’s right! FIVE fucking Tony’s, bitch! American Idol my ass! Now go on and Climb Every Mountain or whatever …’ ” – Anon.
“How do you solve a problem like Maria? Fire Carrie underwood.” – Shawn Mahoney
Images courtesy of Will Hart/NBC.