Carrie Underwood’s Hills Are Alive

The original Maria von Trapp (nee Kutschera) 1905-1987(Photo: AP)
The original Maria von Trapp (nee Kutschera) 1905-1987(Photo: AP)

I’m told that our American Idol debutante is taking hits (“I’ve been getting death threats.” ) for her projected performance as Maria von Trapp in The Sound of Music. This most beloved of Broadway hits gets a new production on live TV this Thursday night. Why live? You gotta get a gimmick.

http://www.youtube.com/user/NBC?v=Q8uXO2n4j4Y

Speaking of which, The Sound of Music and Gypsy were both up for the Tony Awards in 1960. Nuns triumphed over strippers and Mary Martin knocked off Ethel Merman. Nonplussed, the Merm was heard to bellow, “How do ya buck a nun?” Maybe she was misquoted.

Carrie Underwood is a lovely young woman with a fine voice. Whether she would survive unamplified 8 shows a week at the St. James Theater is a moot point. Broadway has been heavily miked for at least 30 years. You barely need draw breath today.

That’s a tease of Carrie and the great Patricia Neway of La Scala, Menotti, and The New York City Opera as the original Mother Abbess on the Ed Sullivan Show.

The live TV broadcast will offer built in drama and chazerei as one hopes not to trip over the lights or scare the horses. More importantly, a fine show, rarely seen in its original form, will reach a live audience with a lovely young star. The Sound of Music has been THE tourist attraction in Salzburg for years. (Mozart comes in third place after the candy with his picture on the box.) The original production was panned by the press as overly sweet, and beloved Mary Martin was deemed too old to play a 19-year-old postulant. (Mary was 45 at the time.)

Rodgers and Hammerstein, after The King and I, Oklahoma and South Pacific, continued to be at their best with their final collaboration. Go ahead. Call it sugary and sweet all you want. You’ll still be crying at “Climb Every Mountain” and singing along with “Do-Re-Mi.” You know you will. Tune in Thursday night. Go Carrie!

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