NBC’s “The Sound of Music Live!” aired Thursday night and predictably sent social media snarking, followed by more tempered reviews from TV critics and theater lovers.
Although the show might not have been one of everybody’s favorite things, NBC got big props for making the effort to stage a live three-hour, multi-set musical. Early ratings indications are that NBC has a hit.
Reaction to individual performances was mixed, to be kind, but one common sentiment was that a high point was the performance of Broadway veteran Audra McDonald, she of the five Tonys and two Grammys. This was expected by anyone who has seen the “Private Practice” actress on stage or in recital.
The golden pipes of McDonald, playing the Rev. Mother, opened the broadcast, but her memorable scene came later, singing “Climb Ev’ry Mountain,” one of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s most enduring numbers from their 1959 Broadway musical.
As David Hinckley of New York’s Daily News wrote: “Audra McDonald, playing the Prioress at the Abbey, surprised no one by almost stopping the show with ‘Climb Ev’ry Mountain.’”
As comedian and Broadway fanatic Rosie O’Donnell tweeted: “Audra McDonald makes everything better #SoundofMusic”
Before the broadcast, McDonald talked to the Wall Street Journal about how she approaches singing “Climb Ev’ry Mountain.”
“Just focus on what Mother Abbess is really trying to do. And what’s she trying to do is give Maria some serious tough love and kicking her out. She’s saying no, you can’t run from your problems. This is opportunity in your life knocking on the door saying here we are. Here is your life. This is your destiny. And I’m not going to let you run away from it because it seems scary. So if I focus on that I think I’ll be okay. If I focus on ‘oh this is a hard song, I hope I don’t screw up' then I’ll screw up.”
Watch her hit all the notes in the video above.