The hills were alive — live! — when the real time (for East Coast peeps, anyway) production of "The Sound of Music" aired on NBC on Thursday night.
Country star Carrie Underwood, who's known more for her singing chops than her acting résumé, headlined the show as nun-turned-governess Maria von Trapp in the live three-hour version of the Rodgers & Hammerstein classic. And it's no shocker that Underwood's performance created a bevy of buzz before, during, and after the show.
The "American Idol" alum did fine with the songs, but when it came to acting ... well, not so much. At least that what the critics — and the all-important Twitterverse — had to say.
Check out Underwood's first non-singing scene:
The Hollywood Reporter's Marc Bernardin wrote:
Variety's take on the East coast airing: "There was plenty of criticism about Underwood not being up to snuff for the lead role and the production not measuring up to the 1965 Julie Andrews pic. And there was chatter about the lighting leaving scenes looking a little dark and the orchestra being too high in the mix."
Check out the negative Twitter reaction to Underwood's acting:
And here are a few who commended her effort:
Of course, the Julie Andrews comparisons were bound to happen, despite the fact that NBC's production was actually based on the original 1959 Broadway musical starring Mary Martin, and not the Academy Award-winning film that starred Andrews. But Underwood wasn't trying to fill an icon's shoes, anyway. Before the show, the singer revealed she was getting "hate tweets" over the role, with superfans reminding her: "You're not Julie Andrews!"
"I know I'm not — nobody is, and I would never pretend that I was," she told Entertainment Weekly. "I know my place, you know?" (Haters gonna hate, but Andrews publicly gave the project her blessing.)
Laura Benanti, who played Elsa Schrader in the NBC adaption, told Yahoo TV: "Anytime anyone takes on an iconic character like that or steps into huge shoes like Julie Andrews's, inevitably, you're going to be compared. She's not trying to be Julie Andrews; she's trying to be her version of Maria."
Underwood's version of Maria didn't measure up for some fans, but Audra McDonald's Mother Abbess sure did. (Hey, the "Private Practice" alum's not a five-time Tony Award winner for nothing.) One of the buzziest scenes of the night was McDonald's rendition of "Climb Ev'ry Mountain," which had both her and Underwood in tears by the end of the song. McDonald may need to move one of her Tony's aside to make a spot for an Emmy.
See McDonald's performance of "Climb Ev'ry Mountain":
Here are a few more of our favorite things from "The Sound of Music Live!":
* The scenes with the kids were some of the best, and Underwood seemed most comfortable in them. And those von Trapp children – played by Ariane Rinehart (Liesl), Michael Nigro (Fredrich), Ella Watts-Gorman (Louisa), Joe West (Kurt), Sophia Caruso (Brigitta), Grace Rundhaug (Marta) and Peyton Ella as young Gretl – could definitely sing. When it was time for yodeling "The Lonely Goatherd" with the kids, Underwood was a pro – and no one fell off the bed.
Underwood and the kids sing "Do-Re-Mi":
* Rinehart and Michael Campayno (Rolf Gruber) killed it with their "Sixteen Going on Seventeen" duet — and the playful kiss in the woods included a roll down the hill before Campayno scampered off. Oh, young love! This was more than a "High School Musical" — and not a bad TV debut for Campayno.
Watch the "Sixteen Going on Seventeen" performance:
* Stephen Moyer as Captain von Trapp was genius, and hearing the "True Blood" star talk in his own accent was a bonus.
* Benanti nailed her scenes, despite some nervousness of the live TV aspect. "When you're on stage, there's a different energy than when you're on camera, and this is a hybrid of the two, so it's been figuring out a proper energy in terms of how big you're going to be," she told Yahoo TV. "That's been the trickiest bit for me."
Benanti, Moyer, and Christian Borle perform "How Can Love Survive?":
In the end, taking on pre-war Austria in primetime is no easy feat, but the cast pulled it off with no mishaps. Considering this version of "The Sound of Music" was the first live TV musical in 50 years, it was quite a feat indeed.
Underwood's reaction post-show:
What's your take on Underwood's acting? What was your favorite performance? Let us know in the comments.
- Arts & Entertainment
- Carrie Underwood
- Julie Andrews
- Maria von Trapp