NEW YORK — Maria, former would-be nun, is about to get married.
Starring as Maria in NBC’s new version of The Sound of Music, Carrie Underwood is clad in her own T-shirt and leggings plus a wedding veil as she reverently steps through the bare-bones Manhattan rehearsal space while three dozen castmates, on their feet as if in church, sing “How do you solve a problem like Maria?”
Underwood’s procession ends at the “altar” (marked by a music stand) to join her groom, Capt. von Trapp, played by jeans-and-sweater-sporting Stephen Moyer.
During this preliminary run-through a few weeks ago, much work clearly remained to get The Sound of Music Live! ready for airtime on Dec. 5, when it, along with everyone involved, will make history: More than a half-century has passed since a broadcast network has dared to mount a full-scale musical for live TV.
It would have been risky enough revisiting this Rodgers and Hammerstein classic on any terms. But this is no remake of the not-to-be-tampered-with Julie Andrews juggernaut, declares Neil Meron. Meron and longtime partner Craig Zadan are the telecast’s Oscar-winning executive producers.
Instead, The Sound of Music Live! is the 1959 Broadway musical reimagined for TV, then given extra crackle with a live presentation.
Meron’s message: Everybody knows The Sound of Music, or thinks they do from the 1965 film nearly everyone has seen. But relatively few fans are acquainted with the stage original. Drawing from it, The Sound of Music Live! is meant to feel familiar, yet at the same time come across as new and different.
Consider: Moyer with castmates Laura Benanti (as Baroness Elsa Schrader) and Christian Borle (as Max Detweiler) are rehearsing a couple of weeks later a saucy song titled How Can Love Survive? This song will be brand-new to most viewers of the telecast — it was dropped from the movie.