My (new) Favorite Thing

December 3, 2013


If you’re like me, you’ve had December 5 logged in your brain and on your DVR for some time. It is, of course, when country superstar Carrie Underwood and True Blood vampire Stephen Moyer become Fraulein Maria and Captain Von Trapp in NBC’s “The Sound of Music Live!”. The stakes are high—they’re performing the musical live. Luckily, though, the show’s supporting roles are filled with Broadway vets like five-time Tony winner Audra McDonald (oh, to hear her sing “My Favorite Things”!) and Peter and the Starcatcher‘s Christian Borle. All this on top of choreography by co-director Rob Ashford. I can’t wait.


Underwood and Moyer, photo by Paul Drinkwater/NBC


To clear things up: It’s not a reproduction of the classic 1965 movie; instead, it’s a restaging of the Broadway musical. Still, Carrie Underwood has big shoes to fill: Mary Martin starred as the first Maria when the show opened in 1959 (and we all know Julie Andrews in the film). It also seems like Ashford has made different artistic choices from the original stagings, first by Joe Layton on Broadway and the recently late Marc Breaux for the screen. For instance, Ashford explains in the “Making-Of” special (which aired Nov. 27 and you can see here) that the familiar “16 Going on 17” gazebo scene will be set on a mountain side.


From left: Jessica Morley (Sister Berthe), Elena Shaddow (Sister Sophia), Audra McDonald (Mother Abbess) and Christiane Noll (Margaretta)
Photo by Will Hart/NBC.


Ashford, however, is no stranger to successfully recreating well-known musicals. His revivals of Promises, Promises, How to Succeed in Business… and Evita all earned Tony nominations for best choreography. I spoke with Ashford while he was working on Evita, and he said revivals are often most challenging because of the familiarity. Take a look at this clip of the Promises, Promises office number at the 2010 Tony Award Ceremony. If “The Sound of Music Live!” staging is anything like this…I’ll be one happy yodeler, singing along to Rodgers & Hammerstein’s glorious music.



The three-hour (yikes!) event begins this Thursday at 8pm ET/PT. Dance Magazine will be live tweeting during the broadcast (sorry, West-Coasters). Join us @dance_magazine.