NBC’s Live ‘The Sound Of Music’ Casts Tony Winners Audra McDonald, Laura Benanti, & Christian Borle (FIRST LOOK: POSTER)

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NBC’s December 5th live broadcast of the musical version of The Sound Of Music has added some hefty Broadway credentials to its cast to join 6-time Grammy winner and Season 4 American Idol champ Carrie Underwood (set to play Maria von Trapp) and TV & stage veteran Stephen Moyer (set to play Captain George von Trapp). The Hollywood Reporter reports via press release:

Audra McDonald, Laura Benanti and Christian Borle have been added to the cast for the network’s live production of The Sound of Music, slated to air Dec. 5, NBC announced Monday.

McDonald, a five-time Tony and two-time Grammy winner, will portray Mother Abbess. Benanti, who won a Tony for Gypsy, will play Elsa Schrader. Meanwhile, Borle, a Smash vet who recently won a Tony for Peter and the Starcatcher, has joined as Max Dettweiler.

What do you think of these cast additions? Audra McDonald may be a little young to play Mother Abbess, but other than that, she in particular seems like an inspired casting choice, doesn’t she? And what do you think of the deliberately old-school looking poster of Carrie as Maria?

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Deb B

Also known as Windmills, I cover country music news and live televised country events, in addition to recapping ABC's 'Nashville.' Additionally, I occasionally do long-form chart analysis that has been cited by Entertainment Weekly, Pitchfork, The Guardian, The New Republic, NPR, and more.
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  • Abbey Jones

    I love the poster! Carrie looks like Heidi! :) Cute! I’m impressed to see so many Tony winners… :)

  • Incipit

    Sounds great! I am really looking forward to seeing this show, I know it very well, having costumed it twice, and the music stays with a person, like the “South Pacific” score does.

    I know they just held open casting for these roles on Sunday in Manhattan – but If they still need some of the Von Trapp kids for the cast, what about Carly Sonenclar from one of the shows last year? Could she play “I am Sixteen Going on Seventeen” convincingly? She certainly sings well enough. IMO.

  • jujubee22

    Audra will sing the heck out of Climb Every Mountain. Shame to cast Laura Benanti in a non-singing role (at least I don’t recall any Baroness songs in the stage version — maybe I’m forgetting one). Christian Borle is always welcome (altho, another non-singing role)

  • jujubee22

    oh thats a good idea…altho I bet they’ll cast someone 18-20 to play Liesl, rather than a 14 year old. But Carly is a broadway vet…she could play Louisa or Brigitta who I think are supposed to be around her age

  • Montavilla

    Audra McDonald is always an inspired choice.

  • Incipit

    In the stage production, Max has two songs with Elsa, jujubee22 – in the movie, IDK. I don’t think this will run long enough to include all the songs from the original score. And over the years there have been many amendments made – so I’m interested to see what the choices are for this one. Only problem is Shankman – I don’t usually like his work.

  • usedtobelucy

    Good Lord, what a cast.

  • jujubee22

    /O you are right! I completely forgot those even tho I’ve been involved in more than one stage production of SOM lol(not the most memorable songs from the stage production)..so yay! for Christian and Laura singing..hope they keep one of the songs at least

  • usedtobelucy

    Well, there was How Can Love Survive, and No Way to Stop It with the Baroness and von Trapp. … I remember really liking How Can Love Survive on the album I had when I was a kid. It’ll be a shame of Benanti doesn’t get to sing at least a bit. She does a lot of straight acting, though, so I’m sure she’s used to it.

  • girlygirl

    I think Carly is a little too young to play Liesl, Last I saw her, she looked younger than her actual age and I don’t know if she would be believable as a 16 going on 17 year old. But she could play the 2nd oldest daughter with little trouble.

    (The actress who played Liesl in the original Broadway production was 16 years old; the actress who played her in the film was 22)

  • MV007

    I don’t care about this thing one way or the other but I saw this picture and thought “wow what a terrible hair-do”. It takes a lot to make Carrie look unappealing and they’ve nearly managed to do that.

  • curlyenta

    Haha! Sorry, I can’t accept Carrie in this production. The picture looks like she was photoshopped into a VFTW thread. Why must they do this rehash of this iconic movie with what will almost certainly be an inferior product from the first and only classic with Julie Andrews? Can’t bare to watch it.

  • yaddabing

    Because this has nothing to do with the movie version with Julie Andrews?

    This is based on the ORIGINAL (that the movie is based off of) Broadway play.

  • Larc

    I agree. But as a mother abyss in 1930s Austria? At 43, she’s a good 20 years too young. Peggy Wood was in her early 70s when she played that role in the movie (her singing was dubbed by Margery McKay).

  • Incipit

    Heh, Probably for the same reason they did the movie in 1965, when there was the iconic Mary Martin Broadway production already, since 1959…and they had to lose some songs and change a few things up for that movie too – some people regard THAT as an inferior product. *wink*.

  • curlyenta

    I think a majority of the world sees the 1965 Julie Andrews movie production as the ‘go to’ version of the story and I’d bet that way way waaaay more people have seen the movie than the Mary Martin Broadway production… I know I’ve never seen it.

    If this new version starts straying far from the movie version, I betcha many will not be happy campers, since it was that show they grew up with – the baby boomer production.

  • Incipit

    That’s okay, MV007, all the available hairstyle examples the production could choose from for an “Austria, pre WWII, girl-in-a-convent” look may have given you the same reaction – they are supposed to look ‘of-the-period’.

  • Ronnie D

    Oh no…she looks so corny. She is corny. lol She also sings from her throat.

  • yaddabing

    Well seeing as how this is being touted as being based off the original play, that’s their fault.

  • Incipit

    “I know I’ve never seen it.”

    I’m resisting mightily, curlyenta…if you are extrapolating from the one (you) to make it fit the many (the majority) I would need data – that is anecdotal.

    With all the productions, stage shows, traveling companies, high school musicals and theater revivals there have been of this play since 1959 – multiple opportunities from many different sources have been available to see. If you haven’t seen any of them – it doesn’t qualify as a majority.

    Actually, what if we agree that the majority of the NBC TV audience have probably never seen either version, KWIM? So if they watch, it will be fresh to that audience.

    It doesn’t matter. If NBC and the cast does a good job, and people like it – then this production will go on the list.


  • Incipit

    That’s the movie. Patricia Neway was 40 years old when she played The Mother Abbess on Broadway in 1959.

    I think being able to play the part convincingly and sing the songs well is what matters here.


  • ptslittlecomment

    Anyone who has seen any stage production – whether it be school, church, community theatre or a professional tour – has seen something much closer to the original Mary Martin production than the Julie Andrews film.

  • carla

    lol that poster.
    carrie’s great tho!

  • milwlovesadam

    I’ll be tuning in for sure. I’m just happy to see musical theater getting this kind of attention again. Glee and Smash are paving the way for more musical productions on TV, IMHO. I’m still sad to see Smash cancelled, but very excited to see Borle again. And isn’t Megan Hilty going to be a regular on Sean Hayes’ new show? But, I digress.

    I’m not a fan of Carrie’s, or of her voice, but do look forward to hearing Audra Mcdonald and the others belt it out.

  • Sassycatz

    Haven’t you heard? Women today at 43, esp in the entertainment industry, are treated like they’re in their 70’s! ;-)

    I’m joking, but not far from it.

  • Bentley1530

    Big, big big Audra McDonald fan here but did not expect to see her in SOM unless they are going for non traditional casting of the whole show.

  • bridgette12

    Whoever came up with the idea of Carrie Underwood as Maria should be fired. She can’t act and dressing her up like Maria, won’t magically give her the acting talent to pull this off. Carrie can sing, but she don’t have the beautiful tone that Julie Andrews had.

  • Sassycatz

    Hey, she was born in Berlin, Germany…. That’s not too far from Austria. McDonald seems more appropriately cast than the Oakie, with the southern accent! ;-)


  • bridgette12

    It’s going to be embarrassing and kind of sad to ruin a classic movie.

  • Ronnie D

    Julie Andrews was incredible. She use to bring my dad to tears, and that’s no easy feat lol. Not to compare, but Carrie isn’t even in the same league compared to what Julie was. Unless she makes this a country version, which is hard since it’s set in WW2 lol

  • Ronnie D

    I almost want a poster of this along with the Clay Aiken one from the Technicolor Dream Coat lol

  • fuzzywuzzy

    Sorry, but I lol’ed when I saw the poster. It’s pretty cheesy. lol I’ll be watching though. Fantastic supporting artists cast! Audra McDonald is phenomenal! Benanti is great and I LOVE Christian Borle – he’ll make a terrific Uncle Max. Looking forward to this live performance.

  • bridgette12

    Hush, you don’t want to give these producers any ideas. Personally, I have no problem with them doing a newer version of this movie, but they can do better than Carrie.

  • usedtobelucy

    It doesn’t seem like a good fit for Shankman’s sensibilities, to me. But we shall see, I guess. Maybe he’ll surprise us.

  • fuzzywuzzy

    What role is Shankman (Adam?) in this production? According to THR:

    The Sound of Music, produced by Universal TV, is executive produced by Neil Meron and Craig Zadan. Beth McCarthy-Miller and Rob Ashford will serve as directors.

  • g122y

    it is a musical live tv show,not a movie,but i think it is difficult to sing live rather than in a movie ehehe

  • g122y

    atleast she can sing and hit notes ahaha.. rare commercial singers nowadays!

  • g122y

    The great Julie Andrews admitted they lip synced in the movie.

  • milwlovesadam

    Virtually every classic movie musical was done with recorded vocals and music. That’s why both audio and visual were so “great.” There was also a lot of vocal dubbing, as in My Fair Lady. That was not Audrey Hepburn singing at all.

    If this production will feature live singing, I’m glad they are casting a lot of Broadway stars, they can and do sing live , 8 times a week!!

  • fuzzywuzzy

    That was standard procedure for movies of musicals, which is why such a big deal was made of the recent “Les Miz” movie, where the actors were filmed singing live.

  • milwlovesadam

    Yup. And a lot of the vocals were surprisingly weak. They also cast movie stars and not musical theater stars, who can way out-sing them.

  • l8er

    It seems kind of late to be casting for this. I know it’s live but you’d think they would into rehearsals now. Or maybe they are. Anyway, this is bound to be cheesy. But whatever…I’ll watch it as I get crazy stressed during the holidays so it’ll be something fun to watch I guess.

  • Listening

    My my my that’s a lot of teeth… and the fact that we see none of her bottom teeth makes the picture even weirder like she has top dentures.

    Whelp the poster is stupid and I can’t believe The Powers That Be didn’t realize that. BUT i’m still intrigued by the idea of Carrie as Marie. Her voice is crazy good and I want to see how she acts in the role.

    I just remembered Carrie already sang a song from the Sound of Music, The Hills Are Alive. She totally killed it. Here it is…


  • windmills

    That’s for digging that up, fuzzywuzzy, because I hadn’t seen a Shankman mentioned in association with the production before either. Adam Shankman has worked with Carrie before (he directed her variety/holiday special for FOX) but I don’t believe he’s been attached to this live musical.

  • windmills

    Gosh, as much as I think it would be insanity to have Benanti and Borle in the show without singing, I guess it’ll depend on what they can fit in and flow to and from in the end. Carrie’s mentioned there will be commercial breaks for this. So, if we assume the standard 44 minutes of programming per hour, that’s 132 minutes of musical, so 2 hours and 12 minutes. I don’t know how that compares in length of previous Broadway stagings of the musical but I’m guessing there will be less time for this TV staging.

    I have the same question as fuzzywuzzy – I haven’t seen a Shankman associated with this production yet, but maybe I missed something.

  • windmills

    Carrie’s been prepping this summer – she told USA Today recently that she’s been working on the songs with help, and she’s also been memorizing her lines without “overlearning” them.

  • windmills

    Haha, you totally pointed out the thing that bugged me – the prominent upper teeth as against the invisible bottom teeth!

    I think there’s plenty of room for legit skepticism based on Carrie’s lack of experience in theater and as an actress, but I’m looking forward to seeing her try to rise to the challenge. I loved it when she sang “The Sound Of Music,” and to think, she was under the weather that night!

  • Amy Beth

    Well, the poster makes poor Carrie look like she’s on a Swiss Miss package. But I do look forward to Audra McDonald outsmarting the Nazis! And Christian Borle as Max is perfection.

  • windmills

    Here’s the NBC page for its live presentation of The Sound Of Music musical. The “about” blurb:

    From executive producers Craig Zadan and Neil Meron (“Smash,” “Hairspray,” “Chicago”) comes an instant holiday classic: “The Sound of Music,” based on the original Broadway musical. Carrie Underwood and Stephen Moyer star as Maria and Captain von Trapp in this beloved story of the young novice who falls in love with Captain von Trapp and his seven children, set against the backdrop of Nazi-occupied Austria. The jewel in the Rodgers and Hammerstein crown, “The Sound of Music” contains some of the most famous songs ever written for the stage, including “The Sound of Music,” “My Favorite Things,” “Do-Re-Mi,” “Sixteen Going on Seventeen,” “Climb Every Mountain” and “Edelweiss.”

    The Tony Award-winning Best Musical starring Julie Andrews became one of the biggest worldwide box office hits of all time, but this new
    version will be a faithful adaptation of the original stage musical, to
    retell the story for a whole new generation. And more than that, it will
    be broadcast LIVE, adding a whole new level of immediacy and
    excitement. Get ready to reintroduce your family to the most joyful,
    most emotional and most musical family adventure of them all. Three-hour live event.

  • jobeob987

    I love Carrie and yet confess that I have trouble picturing her as Maria. The Swiss Miss promo doesn’t help any in that regard. I’m positive Carrie will sing the heck out of those songs, though. No doubt about that.

    Audra McDonald is a great choice. She’s very, very good.

  • bridgette12

    Being a good singer and a shitty actress for a musical is never a good combination.

  • Incipit

    Good to know, fuzzywuzzy! I could have sworn I saw Shankman’s name associated with this venture when it was originally mentioned – because I had an “Ewww” reaction. OK, it was more like “Oh No, Mr. Bill” – but if he is not – then it’s all good. Thanks!


  • Jussiec

    Borle is an amazing actor. I saw him Off Broadway in Angels in America a couple of years ago.

    Carrie looks like a block of wood in that poster. I don’t think it’s very flattering.

  • milwlovesadam

    Thanks for posting this. Ummmm. I kindly disagree that she “nailed it.” I can still hear quite a bit of country twang in there. If she can work very hard on decreasing that nasal twang on words such as “My” (( “M” sounds can go super nasal while singing ) and if she can avoid using runs. Jeepers. RUNS in a Rogers and Hammerstein song. EGADS. Then maybe it will turn out OK.

  • DaisyMagnolia

    You can’t ruin something that’s classic. It’s impossible.