Photo Credit: Nino Munoz/NBC
If the 1965 movie The Sound of Music is one of your favorite things, well, you're not alone. It won the Oscar for Best Picture that year, and went on to become one of the most popular movie musicals of all time. Julie Andrews played the governess Maria Von Trapp with such genuine effervescence! And the Rogers and Hammerstein songs are so winning! And ever since 2002, when ABC began airing it annually during Christmas week, the movie itself has become associated with the anticipatory joy of the holiday season.
For all these reasons, NBC's live version of The Sound Of Music (airing on Thursday at 8 p.m. ET) has caught the public's attention, big time. Other factors: The generally beloved singer Carrie Underwood is playing Maria. (Can you name someone who dislikes her?) Plus, it's live, so anything can happen. (Flubbed lines! Wardrobe malfunctions! Oh my!) Sounds like a recipe for an actual TV event.
Ah, but there are naysayers. (Aren't there always?) Some critics have taken the "leave the classics alone" tack, which is understandable. "Where Andrews found a little quietness and subtlety in the score, Underwood, judging by the teasers, will go at it with the pop-eyed mania of someone performing for Simon Cowell," sniped The Guardian.
And hunky though he may be, True Blood's Stephen Moyer (who plays Captain Georg Von Trapp) is no Christopher Plummer. "I will always and forever consider only one Maria and one Captain Von Trapp," wrote one blogger. "This will be a flash-in-the-pan."
"I think so many people out there... do have this incredible ownership over the movie," Underwood told Entertainment Weekly. "I get hate tweets and stuff like that and like, 'You’re not Julie Andrews!' I know I'm not -- nobody is, and I would never pretend that I was. I know my place, you know?"
Though Andrews herself wasn't involved with the production (Underwood has never met her), she's graciously answered press questions about the project. "I wish it well, that's for sure," she told Larry King. "A live broadcast, poor lady!" She also pointed out that she was not the first to play Maria; that was Mary Martin in the 1959 stage version.
Speaking of, NBC's take on The Sound of Music will hew more closely to that stage production. Viewers will hear two songs from the theater version that didn't make it into the original movie; as on stage, some other songs will be performed in different places in the story. Underwood won't sing "My Favorite Things" with the children, but rather with the Mother Abbess (Audra McDonald), for example. In an interview with Ryan Seacrest, Underwood tried to warn fans about this, though these changes will still probably irk people.
With this project, producers Neil Meron and Craig Zadan hope to bring back "appointment television."
That is, in those years before The Sound of Music was written, and captivated a nation. Can Underwood and company re-create that magic? We'll have to tune in to find out!
Jennifer Graham Kizer is an iVillage contributing writer. Follow her on Google+.