NBC did the impossible last night (December 5) — they aired a live, three-hour staging of The Sound Of Music featuring a country singer who has no professional theater experience in the lead role. So they’ve done it (to the tune of $9 million, reportedly), but should they have done it? Well, that depends on who you ask. The general temperature of the Web seems to be that it made for an entertaining night, but not always for the right reasons.
Of course, we’re most interested in how Carrie Underwood did carrying the special as Maria von Trapp, the role made famous by Julie Andrews. The consensus is that Underwood nailed the songs, but once the music stopped and she was forced to act, she was less than stellar, leading to some stale chemistry with the Captain.
Head below for our review revue comprising reactions from critics across the Internet. And as for Carrie’s reaction? Don’t worry, we’ve included that in our roundup, too.
:: USA Today said with Underwood starring, the musical “wasn’t very good.” “The quality of Underwood’s singing voice is not the problem. It’s that she doesn’t know how to use that voice to sing in character,” the paper argued. “The strength of the songs and of her own vocal talents pulled her through when she was singing. It was the speaking that did her in: The eyes went blank, the voice went flat, and Maria turned to wood.” Oof.
:: Time asked, “How do you solve a problem like Carrie Underwood?” and believed the show “was so cringe-worthy that it was at least fun to watch.” The writer described Underwood’s face at one point looking “like an emoticon for being constipated, if such a thing existed.”
:: People posited “her voice never had much distinction or strength, and her acting even less… What’s necessary, perhaps even more than a great voice, are a presence, theatricality and personality to make the [Maria] part more than it is. In that regard, Underwood, despite her blonde wholesome sunniness, was miscast.”
:: The AP critic lauded everyone involved for avoiding any mishaps, before zeroing in on Underwood. “The only real problem was the real reason most people tuned in: Carrie Underwood, an American Idol winner and country music star, sang well as Maria but her acting inexperience was laid bare. She had zero chemistry with her love interest and lacked any intensity or shading. Deer in headlights have emoted more. How do you solve a problem like Maria, indeed.”
:: THR was rough on the country star as well. “While Underwood can deliver the songs — I’m sure that anyone with the desire to plunge themselves into the American Idol ringer has been singing those songs for most of her life — she doesn’t acquit herself so well when it comes to the carrying the emotional weight of the production… Underwood nails the look of a virginal almost-nun, but goes no deeper than that. Blank stares and placid smiles.”
:: Variety also focused on the romance issues. “The Maria-Von Trapp relationship has its problematic aspects under the best of circumstances, and Underwood and Moyer didn’t come close to threading that needle. Given the absence of chemistry, one could be forgiven for hoping he’d lapse into True Blood mode and simply bite her neck.”
:: Yahoo had some positive things to say, though! “The scenes with the kids were some of the best, and Underwood seemed most comfortable in them,” adding, “Considering this version of The Sound of Music was the first live TV musical in 50 years, it was quite a feat.”
:: And Taste of Country was down with it! “Underwood grew stronger through the first hour… and by the time the children gathered for the bedroom thunderstorm scene, she seemed as comfortable in front of the television cameras as she did beneath the hot lights of the Blown Away Tour in 2013.
:: As for Carrie herself? She’s got a response to all the bad reviews:
Glory to God tonight…I couldn’t be more proud. What a tough thing to pull off and we did it! I am so blessed!!!
— Carrie Underwood (@carrieunderwood) December 6, 2013