Last Thursday, I joined the 18.5 million other people who watched NBC’s “The Sound of Music Live!” Since I seemed to go into it with different expectations from some of my friends (it was the Broadway version, and no one will ever be as amazing as Julie Andrews), I found it rather enjoyable. Yes, the acting was a bit stiff, but it was fun to see something that was, well, live. In an era of highly polished and produced shows, it was refreshing to watch something a little more immediate on television.
And as I watched, I couldn’t help reflecting on the popularity of the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical and how it has creeped into our collective conscience. When I was little, I had a music box that played “My Favorite Things,” and I sang “Sixteen Going on Seventeen” in one of my music classes in middle school. And admit it, when you read the title of this post, you likely added in “with the sound of music.” It is just that cherished of a film and a story – and that is likely why people have had such strong reactions to this most recent production.
But I think another reason why I enjoyed the live spectacle last week was because, while I did notice the similarities to and differences from the 1965 film, I spent most of the show remembering a “Sound of Music” tour my friend L and I went on in 2005 when we were in Salzburg, Austria. We were traveling around Europe during our winter break (we were studying abroad in England) and going on the tour was one of L’s “must dos.” And what a tour it was!
While it was fun to see all of the different places where the movie was filmed (and we saw a lot of them!), what I remember most is singing along to the soundtrack in the van. Our group was small – just the two of us, our tour guide, and a British family of four. The family had two middle-school-aged daughters who initially had a “we’re too cool for this” attitude, but as soon as the music started filling the car, L and I began singing along, and before the first verse of “The Sound of Music” was over, they had joined in. From there, it was a full afternoon of laughing, singing, taking photos, and reminiscing.
To me, that’s the power of the “Sound of Music.” Regardless of whether it’s the musical or film, the story is often attached to beloved memories, which is why it is sacrosanct in the musical canon. I’m not going to argue that the telecast got everything right, but I do give Carrie Underwood, Stephen Moyer, and everyone else involved a lot of credit for trying to help us climb evr’y mountain in a new way.