I wasn’t planning on writing about Carrie Underwood’s painfully wooden live performance last night in NBC’s misbegotten, and ill-fated, “dead” re-enactment of the fabulous Rodgers & Hammerstein musical, “The Sound of Music.”
All the promotional wind leading up to the live event immediately prickled senses in the wrong direction. The show was being sold as some sort of feel-good, happy children, sparkling story full of singing and wonder and dancing when, in reality, the musical is actually extremely dark and threatening and dreary.
The musical moments in “The Sound of Music” drive the frightening plot forward into a total, creeping, Nazi occupation — and it is in the artful context of that delicate balancing between whistling in the graveyard while staring death straight in the face — that made Rodgers & Hammerstein musical geniuses.
We knew straight away that Carrie Underwood would be unable to carry off a live performance and, seeing her from all angles, a surprising Jay Leno-like jawline was revealed and that was the only real surprising moment of the evening.
Ms. Underwood has always been stiff and prissy in any interview, and the “Sound of Music” album — ironically released days before the “live” show — only demonstrates what a good dramatic singer she is not in comparative history:
I wasn’t the only one last night lamenting the ruination of a classic horror musical on live television. The “Underwood-as-wood-plank” meme was not only widespread, but pretty funny to read to not feel so alone:
When Twitter is more daring and darker than the actual show — you know you’re in trouble.
I applaud the attempt to perform a live show in real-time even though the non-traditional casting felt forced and historically phony.
Unfortunately, the producers picked the wrong lead star. You need someone gutsy and funny and heartfelt to play Maria — and Kelly Clarkson would have been a much more real and believable performer if you had to stay in the American Idol wheelhouse.
Listen to Kelly’s jazzy version of “My Favorite Things” on her new “Wrapped in Red” album and you’ll hear the genius in “The Sound of Music” that should have been performed last night. Clarkson has verve and starshine and rhythm and soul power! She sings, and you’re comforted!
So, yes, the sky rose and fell last night solely on the slim shoulders of a dreary Carrie Underwood performance — revealing an unraveling talent that is mostly strings and sealing wax and other non-fancy stuffs — and I’m sadly sure it will also be a really long time before any major television broadcast network will ever let a live performance like that to ever live again.