'Sound of Music Live!': The original film's Von Trapp children respond

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Image Credit: Everett Collection

More than 18 million people tuned in to listen to the sound of Carrie Underwood and a new group of Von Trapp Family singers Thursday night during NBC’s The Sound of Music Live! But what did the actors who played the Von Trapp children in the 1965 film version think? EW talked with four of the seven to see if it became one of their favorite things or if they wanted to say so long, farewell to the live theatrical adaptation.

Angela Cartwright, Brigitta
I really wanted to like it, because I’m not stodgy about trying to keep things always the way that they are, and I like innovation and stuff like that, but it couldn’t make up its mind about whether it was a theater production or if they were trying to do the movie. It was very strange and I think the word “live” was very misleading. … “Live” makes you think it’s going to be live on stage, and even though the sets are very kind of theater-like, it felt like it was taped. … I thought some parts were really miscast. First of all, I don’t think the Captain [Stephen Moyer] was old enough to have seven children. And he didn’t have a lot of chemistry with Carrie. I hated her wigs and her clothes. It made it feel very old-fashioned, it was strange. I think it just tried too hard. Also, the Mother Abbess [Audra McDonald], it was just weird. I think of a Mother Abbess as older and wiser, she runs the whole abbey, I just didn’t get it. That whole “Favorite Things” that they did where she was pretending she was 10. … I think she’s a wonderful singer, Audra McDonald, she was just miscast, and I think they all tried really hard to not mimic the movie. It was almost like a totally different reading on some of the lines that didn’t come across as sincere. And people that see this movie, the original, they know it, they know it inside and out, and it was a big challenge to begin with, so they should have really, in my opinion, stuck to being the play, just the theater, and not thrown in a song that was written for the movie, like “Something Good.”

Nicholas Hammond, Friedrich
The times didn’t line up [Hammond lives in Australia], but I have seen bits and pieces on the Net, and it looks great. … For me, Maria will always be Julie Andrews, and that’s embedded in my DNA. And I’ve toured with Julie here in Australia last year, and it’s all still so fresh in my mind that it’s very hard for me to see anybody else in that role, but that said, look, I know some of the public resists the idea of anybody else playing Maria, but what people get confused about is that the movie and the stage play are two very different things, and there are probably 40 professional productions a year of the play, which is what Carrie did, and so she was just yet another Maria in the stage production of The Sound of Music. She wasn’t trying to copy the movie, and nor was NBC trying to copy the movie. … I thought going with somebody like Carrie who has a beautiful voice and who has her own following, I thought, “What a fascinating idea,” because it’s looking outside the box a little bit. It’s not just getting another Broadway singer; it’s somebody who comes from a background that in a funny way kind of is a reflection of the real Maria, because the real Maria grew up on a farm, she was a country girl. … I hope Carrie hears or reads about all of our congratulations and best wishes to her, because she certainly deserves them.

Debbie Turner, Marta
I thought the singing was just spot-on, beautiful. The singing was just unbelievable. I thought Carrie Underwood, I thought she did a really nice job. She’s just so adorable. She’s just beautiful and in the close-up shots, I’m thinking, “This is hi-def!” I thought the kids, of course, were all adorable. I thought, for a play version — you know, people are comparing it to the movie, and it isn’t the movie, it’s the stage play. Comparing it to that, which is what I was comparing it to, I thought it was well done, very well done. I thought the costumes were just amazing. I was in awe of all the different outfits. … I thought the woman that played Mother Abbess [Audra McDonald], her “Climb Ev’ry Mountain” brought tears to my eyes. … The one piece that I felt was missing from when you see the live version of the play is you didn’t get a reaction from the audience. They didn’t play that. There’s little clips that definitely get a chuckle or a laugh. I somehow thought they were going to be in front of a live audience.

Kym Karath, Gretl
I personally love Carrie Underwood, I just didn’t think this was that great. … The problem is that we’re not used to seeing the play version. I don’t know that they actually were even trying to do the play version, because it does not last three hours. I think there were some serious issues with the production. One of the things that I found the most disturbing, actually, I thought some of the dialog was pretty poor. I found in the production value, there was very little respect for keeping things consistent in terms of the period of time that the play is taking place. It’s taking place in the late ’30s. They just disregarded things that had to do with that timeframe, and maybe they were trying to make it more contemporary, but there’s only so much you can do without risking the integrity of the entire production. … I actually found the portrayal of the baroness by Laura Benanti — I thought she was just lovely. They had tweaked that character, but she was just lovely. But she’s a very experienced stage actress, and I think that made a difference. I think people would have been better served if it wasn’t live and you could have done what you do with film, which is stop and do it again if it’s not exactly the right take. … Listen, it’s very close to my heart. I just don’t think things were done as well as they should have been done, and I think that extends to pretty much every aspect of it. Ultimately, I think I probably would have liked it to have seen it just better directed. And for them to have made some other choices in terms of how they staged things and how they used their time.

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