Dec. 04--Only the stingiest of Rogers & Hammerstein fans will be let down by "The Sound of Music: Music from the NBC Television Event."
Released Tuesday to hype tonight's live production, the cast recording features best-selling "American Idol" winner Carrie Underwood as Maria and five-time Tony winner Audra McDonald as Mother Abbess -- a key role in the Broadway production.
Underwood can sing -- she's one of the great voices to come from "Idol" -- but she underwhelms here. Not bad or disappointing, but she suffers from inevitable Julie Andrews comparisons. Where Andrews let her wit and charm shine through the lines, Underwood delivers them without spark or definition.
By turn, McDonald overwhelms. On the duet "My Favorite Things," the Broadway queen crushes Underwood's simple, pleasant reading with booming vocal runs. Her operatic elocution makes the country singer seems like a bumpkin.
While the pairing is unbalanced, in the larger context of the production, it's a tiny fault. The supporting cast sounds like the professionals they are. Conductor David Chase moves the score from tenderness to thunderous with ease. "True Blood's" Stephen Moyer as Captain Georg von Trapp is a secret weapon -- he'd advance to the Hollywood round with his killer version of "Edelweiss."
Traditionalists will find something to grouse about, but they'll have to look hard to do it.
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