For the last six weeks, Andrew Lloyd Weber has been posting stage-to-screen videos of his musicals on YouTube, available to watch for 48 hours over the weekend. It's been an absolute delight to see Cats and Phantom (and at least educational to see the flops Love Never Dies and By Jeeves).
Sir Andrew's company has a limited library of content, and there was some worry that last week's show would be the last. But have no fear, for this weekend he's bringing us yet another musical theater classic to enjoy at home! This time, it's ... The Sound of Music? What???
Specifically, it's NBC's 2013 Sound of Music Live, featuring Carrie Underwood as Maria and actually-starring Audra McDonald, who utterly steals the show with a stunning rendition of Climb Every Mountain that turned me gay all over again.
The magical Laura Benanti is also there to play the unlucky countess, whose love affair with the captain goes about as well as 2020 has gone for all of us. (At one point Laura exits a scene with so much gusto it became a meme unto itself, but that was in 2013 which is a million years ago in meme time so it's ripe for rediscovery.)
The 2013 live version is, well, pleasant enough, though it lives in the shadow of the original masterpiece. The "see it live!" gimmick when it originally aired lent it a sort of excitement, whether that was because you were enchanted with the ephemeral nature of live theater or because you were hoping to see a piece of the set fall on Carrie Underwood. Either way, as a recorded version, it loses a bit of the specialness, especially since Carrie's performance was ... well, she's a very talented singer and seems to have prioritized that above all other performance skills, let's put it that way.
Though the content is fine, just fine, it's fine, thanks for asking, this special is noteworthy in that it was successful enough to touch off a string of live musicals for a while, from Grease to Peter Pan and Rent, each one peculiar in its own special way. (My favorite character from all of them was the drug-induced alligator in Peter Pan.) I can't recommend this one as wholeheartedly as I could Cats, but you know what, they don't all have to be masterpieces. If you just want to see a nice musical that you know about three-quarters of the words to, this is your weekend.
(Alternately, if you're an original-film purist, check out 20/20's surprisingly great documentary from 2016.)
Sidenote: why is Sir Andrew giving us a Rogers & Hammerstein musical? The answer to that surely lies in the labyrinth of corporate spaghetti that ties ALW's Very Useful Group company to Universal, NBC, Comcast, probably the Sheinhardt Wig Company. Through a weird legal tangle, Andrew Lloyd Weber's connected to all of these companies, and while media consolidation is generally a terrible thing at least it means we get to watch a musical for a few hours this weekend.
The Sound of Music Live goes live at 11am Pacific on Friday morning, and will be available to watch until 11am on Sunday.