NBC Climbs Ev’ry Mountain with their Sound of Music Casting
The hills are slowly becoming alive as we head closer to NBC’s live telecast of Roger & Hammerstein’s The Sound of Music. But the decision to cast country singer Carrie Underwood in the role of Maria has left some fans up in arms. However, there is a reason behind this casting and it is going to make the production incredibly successful!
Before I reveal that reason, I just want to remind everyone of Carrie Underwood’s music qualifications. She is a multi-platinum selling recording artist with 6 Grammy Awards, 16 Billboard Music Awards, 7 American Music Awards, 10 Country Music Awards and has been named ‘Entertainer of the Year’ by the Country Music Awards twice. Rather successful, don’t you think?
Naturally the next step is to branch out into musical theatre. Why not? She has dominated the country music scene and gathered widespread appeal across many different audiences. But there are still some people out there who don’t believe that she should play Maria in NBC’s live The Sound of Music.
Laura Benanti, Baroness Elsa Schrader in the TV version and Maria in the 1998 Broadway revival of The Sound of Music, disagrees with these people.
In an interview with Broadway.com, Benanti commented that Carrie Underwood “is going to bring in an audience that may not even know what musical theater is. She’s going to open up this genre to people who wouldn’t necessarily watch, and there’s enough Broadway people that Broadway fans will be interested. I think it’s going to be a really fun evening for families.”
And she is completely right!
This broadcast of The Sound of Music doesn’t have the same limited catchment area of New York where the residents are used to live theatre. The special television event is going to be broadcast across the entire United States to people who have never been to a theatre, seen a musical and some who cannot even name a musical. But this lack of experience with the theatre shouldn’t alienate audiences and the casting of Carrie Underwood assures that these new audiences won’t be alienated.
Carrie Underwood’s background in country music will ensure that a whole new audience of country music fans will tune into the broadcast. Chances are most of these people have never seen a musical and, you never know, after being exposed to Carrie Underwood leading this The Sound of Music revival that may change.
Supporting Carrie Underwood as Maria is ‘True Blood’ star Stephen Moyer as Captain von Trapp, another rather controversial casting move by NBC. But it has the same advantages. Only this time it isn’t the entire world of country music fans that have been drawn to the broadcast. It is the 5 million viewers of True Blood who will be attracted to NBC’s The Sound of Music.
Plus, it isn’t as though the production is without any appealing incentives for Broadway fans. The production features Tony winners Laura Benanti, Audra McDonald and Christian Borle which provides enough motivation for any Broadway fan to sit transfixed to their television.
Combine all these audiences that will want to tune into the live event (‘True Blood’ fans, Broadway fans, the entire world of country music and NBC viewers) and this humble Broadway musical is reaching an enormous amount of people. Many of whom, may be convinced to follow it up with a visit to Broadway, a touring production or even their local theatre group!
That is the kind of publicity that theatre needs to have a long and prosperous future.