This post has been updated. See below for details.
Underwood is, of course, the pop superstar who first got famous as the fourth season winner of
She also seems like a nice person; one would naturally root for her to do well. Still, it would have been best not to have to do that while the show was running. She was not the only obstacle to losing oneself in the play, certainly, but she was the one in the middle of the screen and the action. "The Sound of Music" has a big cast, but it is Maria's load to carry.
Indeed, Underwood -- whose marquee name, after all, was part of what this project required -- was surrounded and supported by people whose experience she lacked; director Rob Ashford has directed successful Broadway revivals of
With her on camera were theater veterans McDonald, Christian Borle (who was on NBC's musical theater series
, who has herself played Maria on Broadway; Borle and Bernanti, both excellent, shared two numbers left out of the movie, "How Can Love Survive" and "No Way to Stop It." (The production followed the lines of the stage play.)
In their singing and dancing of "Sixteen Going on Seventeen," Michael Campayno as Rolf and Ariane Reinhardt (the juvenile, albeit an incipient Nazi, and the ingenue), were as good as one could want. The littler kids, being kids, were as good as they needed to be.
But where Underwood could have used the most help, from her love interest, Captain von Trapp, little was coming.
Musicals have worked on television; the Mary Martin
It was helpful, if you wanted to help, to regard this as really terrific community theater, rather than something professional and less than successful. But they got through it, and if as a critic I am bound to be critical, as an ordinary citizen I salute the effort. I imagine them all going off to Sardi's afterward to wait for the reviews, and keeping their chins up when they read them.
Update: An earlier version of this article stated that Andrews was first introduced to America in the 1957 musical "Cinderella." In fact, she had already appeared on national television, in the 1956 musical adaptation of Maxwell Anderson's "High Tor."