“THE SOUND OF MUSIC LIVE”— A British Live Broadcast


A British Live Broadcast

Amos Lassen

“The Sound of Music” comes to us once again in anambitious, live-broadcast production from BAFTA-nominated director Coky Giedroyc, the American premiere of the production first broadcast live in the United Kingdom. It is a tribute to the timeless Broadway show soon which is celebrating its 60th anniversary as one of the most beloved musicals of all time and will be available on Blu-ray and DVD on November 6. 

“The Sound of Music” opened on Broadway in 1959, and has since become a family favorite all over the world. “The Sound of Music Live” is a cinematically staged production featuring three soundstages and over 150 period costumes and is beautifully shot with 17 cameras.

 Kara Tointon delivers a “mesmerizing performance and incredible vocal talents” as Maria, the nun who becomes the governess for seven children living in the shadow of their stern widower father (Julian Ovenden). Along with her regular and required duties, Maria brings love, music and excitement into the children’s lives and also eventually begins to have an effect on their father. Just when things are looking up, the rise of Nazism and the looming threat of war threatens their future. Katherine Kelly appears as Baroness Elsa Schraeder and Alexander Armstrong plays Max Detweiler.

This is not intended to be a remake of the film. Of course different actors will bring their own personality to the role and it would be merely a pointless rip-off if they tried to imitate every nuance of the film. This version follows the original stage show which means that the two deleted numbers are restored (“Something Good” which was written for the film is added and the original sequence of songs and orchestrations are also here).

Basically this is a revival that was broadcast live, as if performed in a theater. Coky Giedroyc and Richard Valentine’s production emphasizes the choreography but using the camera to tell the story, as if it were an actor on the stage yet this was not a “flat” filming, with the camera confined by the proscenium, but a three-dimensional filming, making use of plenty of close-ups and panning shots.

Although well known to most viewers, both in its stage and film versions, “The Sound of Music” still has the capacity to stir the emotions. This is chiefly due to a strong book by Howard Lindsay and Russel Crouse, which does not shy away from the sinister political overtones of the story. While the songs might be saccharine in places, but the plot certainly isn’t.

Giedroyc and Valentine’s production brings out the gradual change of character of Captain Georg von Trapp as he realizes the effect that Maria had on his children. His pliability is contrasted with Maria’s. She is a strong-willed personality who knew that what she was doing was right, even if Von Trapp disagreed with it. Set against the couple is Max, a slimy character if ever there was one, who willingly accepted the dictates of Nazism without understanding their basically evil purposes.

The singing is uniformly excellent and the orchestrations by Michael England are lush yet melodic. I enjoyed the solid British style of this production and although I can see why Christopher Plummer’s military bearing might not be matched in this version, it isn’t a fair comparison to me. I found the sets and the singing, albeit not so polished as on film, far more immediately engaging and the ‘live’ feel came across really well.

Bonus Features include:

  • Audio Commentary With Kara Tointon And Julian Ovenden
  • Behind-The-Scenes Featurette

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