The Sound of Music Live!
The Sound of Music Live! DVD cover
DVD cover
Film information

Directed by

Produced by


Music by

Rodgers and Hammerstein



The Sound of Music Live! is a television special that was originally broadcast by NBC on December 5, 2013. Produced by Craig Zadan and Neil Meron, the special was a live production of Rodgers and Hammerstein's Broadway musical The Sound of Music, starring country singer Carrie Underwood as Maria von Trapp.

The production was met with mixed reviews; much of its criticism was directed towards the acting performance of Carrie Underwood as Maria, as critics felt Underwood did not have enough experience in acting to adequately portray Maria. By contrast, her vocal performances were universally praised as a testament to her skills as a musician. The broadcast was also a ratings success for NBC; with a total of 18.62 million viewers, The Sound of Music Live! brought the network its highest Thursday night viewership for an entertainment program since the series finale of Frasier in 2004.


The production starred musical theater newcomers Carrie Underwood as Maria von Trapp and Stephen Moyer as Georg von Trapp, backed by Broadway veterans and Tony Award winners Audra McDonald as Mother Abbess, Laura Benanti as Elsa Schrader and Christian Borle as Max Detweiler.[1] Benanti had previously portrayed Maria von Trapp on Broadway in 1998.[2] Craig Zadan and Neil Meron, who had previously worked with Borle on the NBC musical drama television series Smash, served as executive producers.[2][3] Other cast members included Michael Campayno as Rolf, Sophia Caruso as Brigitta von Trapp, Peyton Ella as Gretl von Trapp, Michael Nigro as Fredrich von Trapp, Ariane Rinehart as Liesl von Trapp, Grace Rundhaug as Marta von Trapp, Ella Watts-Gorman as Louisa von Trapp, and Joe West as Kurt von Trapp.[3] Other credits include Rob Ashford and Beth McCarthy-Miller as directors, Ashford also was the choreographer, Priscilla Taussig served as producer, David Chase as music director, Derek McLane as production designer. Catherine Zubar was costume designer and Bernie Telsey was the casting director. The production is taken from the book by Howard Lindsay and Russel Crouse with suggested book of The Story of the Trapp Family Singers by Maria von Trapp.[4]

Development and promotionEdit

Sound of Music Live! logo

Promotional poster.

On November 20, 2012, NBC's chairman Bob Greenblatt announced the network's plans to broadcast a live adaptation of the Broadway musical The Sound of Music in 2013. The network also announced that country music performer Carrie Underwood would star as Maria von Trapp in the production. In a statement, Greenblatt justified Underwood's involvement, saying that "[Maria] was an iconic woman who will now be played by an iconic artist."[2][5] On September 16, 2013, NBC revealed the full cast of the special, and released a promotional image depicting Underwood as Maria von Trapp, wearing blond braids and a dirndl, referencing one of Julie Andrews' "most iconic moments" from the film adaptation.[6][1]

Produced on a budget of around $9 million, The Sound of Music Live! was broadcast live from a soundstage built at Grumman Studios in Bethpage, New York. Zadan considered it to be "one of the profoundly complicated, amazing experiences we’ve ever had", noting the additional challenges created by the live broadcast. The producers also noted that while promoting the special, they and NBC particularly emphasized that the production was not a remake of the film, but the actual musical itself. Neil Meron believed that "what we are hoping is in success that we open the door to another kind of entertainment that can exist on TV. I think that the audience will discover, within the first few minutes of watching the show, that they are not seeing a TV version of the movie. They'll know right away it's The Sound of Music, but it's a different Sound of Music than they are accustomed to seeing on film." Meron also praised the involvement of Underwood as the star of the production, believing that she was a quick learner, and "has all of the qualities of Maria." NBC Entertainment president Robert Greenblatt was highly supportive of the project, as he was, in the words of Zadan, a "passionate devotee of theater".[7][8]

Promoted by NBC as a "three-hour holiday event",[2] The Sound of Music Live! was aired as part of a push by NBC to air more live entertainment specials. Among its most popular programs in recent years have been those with live components (such as The Voice and Sunday Night Football); NBC's Jennifer Salke believed that the increased level of social network interaction possible in a live broadcast, along with the feeling of being part of an "event", would encourage viewers to watch the special live instead of on-demand. The network's previous attempt at a live event, The Million Second Quiz, was met with mixed reviews and viewership, but according to NBC, Subway's advertising during the series brought the brand higher awareness than its advertising during other programs.[9]


Cast list adapted from the liner notes of the soundtrack.[10]


Act OneEdit

The nuns of Nonnberg Abbey are invoking Psalm 110 and singing songs of praise ("Preludium"). However, one of their postulants, Maria Rainer (Carrie Underwood), is missing from the sermon and is instead out on the hills near the Abbey singing at the top of her lungs. ("The Sound of Music"). Because of this Sister Berthe (Jessica Molaskey), Sister Sophia (Elena Shaddow) and Sister Margaretta (Christiane Noll) debate with the Mother Abbess (Audra McDonald) as to whether she would be an "asset" to the Abbey ("Maria"). After their deliberation the Mother Abbess calls for Maria to come see her and they discover they both grew up loving the same song as children ("My Favorite Things"). The Mother Abbess then has Maria leave the Abbey temporarily to help the former naval officer, Captain Georg von Trapp (Stephen Moyer), as he is in need of a new governess as his children had chased off the previous one and as a way of testing Maria’s commitment to the religious life.

Upon arrival Maria discovers that the captain has completely shut himself off to his children, music and any other types of emotional entanglements since the death of his wife. The children have no fun, they only march and the staff answer to a whistle. Because of their father closing himself off emotionally, the children have grown up without music in their lives. So to gain the children's trust and acceptance, Maria decides to teach them to sing ("Do-Re-Mi").

That night the eldest daughter, Liesl (Ariane Rinehart), sneaks off into the night to meet her boyfriend, Rolf (Michael Campayno), a local boy who’s caught up in the political fervor of the streets. While the two are out he warns Liesl of danger of her innocence and naivety and offers to protect her, and she accepts this ("Sixteen Going on Seventeen"). Meanwhile, a thunderstorm approaches and causes the children all to gather in Maria's room where they sing to keep from being frightened and to drown out the thunder ("The Lonely Goatherd").

A month later, the captain returns home with Elsa Schraeder (Laura Benanti), a sophisticated Viennese widow and their friend, Max Detweiler (Christian Borle), Third Secretary in the Ministry of Education and Culture, who is on the hunt for the perfect local singing group to perform at the annual Kaltzberg Festival. While Schraeder is enjoying the provinces, she is however frustrated at the fact Captain von Trapps has yet to propose to her. Max explains what’s standing in the way: both she and the Captain are rich! ("How Can Love Survive?").

The children and Maria then arrive home and the children are now sporting clothes that Maria had made from the old curtains in her room instead of their uniforms and this greatly upsets the captain. Embarrassed and enraged, he orders that they change immediately before meeting Schraeder and then he turns onto Maria. Maria confronts him and tries to get him to understand that he does not know his children nor how much that they need him. This only enrages him more to where he fires Maria on the spot and orders her to return to the Abbey. During all this the children, now back in their uniforms, have gathered in the living room where they begin to sing for Schraeder ("The Sound of Music (reprise)"), as he begins to realize that Maria was speaking the truth he joins the children in singing and his eyes are finally open to the torment and pain his children had been suffering and he embraces all of them at once. The children then take Schraeder out to see the gardens and the captain apologizes and asks Maria to stay and thanks her for returning music to his home.

Shortly after this the captain throws a party for Schraeder so that she can meet all of his friends and locals of the gentry ("The Grand Waltz"). However, political differences between those that support the proposed German takeover and those, like von Trapp, who believe in Austrian sovereignty, divides the individuals who attend the party. The orchestra then begin to play an Austrian folk dance ("Ländler") and young Kurt tries to get Maria to teach it to him. The captain intervenes to help and he and Maria begin the complicated dance. As the two are dancing an unspoken attraction begins to arise in the two and Maria puts a stop to the dancing. However, this unspoken attraction did not go unnoticed by Marta who confronts Maria on this. Though Maria strongly denies it she begins to realize that Marta is telling the truth. Then Schraeder calls the children out to say good night to the guest ("So Long, Farewell"). Upon seeing this Max is instantly smittened with the idea to have the children sing in the festival. After the children hussle off to bed and the guest, the captain, Schraeder and Max all entire the dining room, Maria leaves unobserved without saying goodbye or leaving a note and returns to the Nonnberg Abbey.

An unknown amount of time passes and Maria finally decides to confide in the Mother Abbess what happened during her stay with the von Trapp Family and admits to her that she has fallen in love with the captain but that she is ready to take the orders of poverty, obedience and chastity. The Mother Abbess denies her this and encourages her to take face her problem head on and to find the life she was born to live ("Climb Ev'ry Mountain").[11]

Act TwoEdit

Max tries desperately to get the children to sing as they did the night of the party for Schraeder but due to Maria's sudden and unexplained departure the children no longer feel the joys of singing. Max eventually walks off flabbergasted and Maria returns and the children are delighted. However, when the children inform Maria that the captain intends to marry Schraeder, Maria realizes she is too late and that the captain did not share the same feelings for her but she decides to see her duties through until arrangements can be made for a new governess.

But, the political differences between Schraeder, Max and the captain finally reach their demise and both Max and Schraeder try to convince the captain to ride out things and bow to the pressures of society ("No Way to Stop It") to no ends and the both he and Schraeder realize that they cannot have a future together due to their different points of view. Schraeder returns to Vienna for good and the captain confronts Maria when he realizes that the two both had had hidden feelings for each other ("Something Good").

The two agree to marry and the wedding is held by the nuns of Nonnberg Abbey ("Processional" & "Maria (reprise)"). But while the two are away on their honeymooon, Germany invades Austria and takes control. The von Trapps are the only ones who do not fly the flag of the Third Reich. Georg and Maria return home and catch up on the events of that had taken place during their honeymoon and Liesl confides in Maria about her infatuation with Rolf, to which Maria gives her advice to wait until she is a bit older before deciding her future ("Sixteen Going on Seventeen (reprise)").

Admiral von Schreiber (John Bolger) of the Navy of the Third Reich, accompanied by Herr Zeller (C.J. Wilson), the local Nazi leader, arrives to inform von Trapp that he must accept a commission in the German Navy and report immediately to Bremerhaven. Maria, thinking quickly hands the Admiral the program for the Festival showing that the Trapp Family Singers – which includes the Captain, of course, as head of the family – are scheduled to perform, so he couldn’t possibly leave right away, and the Admiral grants his permission with the instructions that the captain is to report to duty several days later.

The festival begins ("Do-Re-Mi (reprise 3)") and Captain von Trapp sings a quietly defiant hymn to Austria ("Edelweiss") to which his wife and children join in. Shortly after Max announces that a guard of honor is waiting to escort the Captain away as soon as the concert is over. Upon this warning, Maria leads the family in one more song to which they escape to one by one ("So Long, Farewell (reprise)"). Max then gives out the prizes to buy the family even more time and when The von Trapp Family Singers are announced as winners of the Festival, they are nowhere to be found.

The Nazi soldiers begin to hunt down the von Trapp family, who have taken refuge in the garden of Nonnberg Abbey. As the Nazi soldiers search the Abbey, Rolf finds the family as they try to escape but upon seeing Leisl he chooses not to reveal their location. The soldiers soon leave and the family feeling they should no longer burden the Abbey try to decide their next course of action. However, it is revealed to them that the Nazis have closed the border and are guarding every road. The family decides that they have no choice but to escape Austria through the mountain. Maria, who had grown up on the mountain, guides them through. The Mother Abbess also reminds them that they will help along away: "For ye shall go out with joy and the very hills shall break forth before you into singing" ("Finale Ultimo: Climb Ev’ry Mountain").[11]

Musical numbersEdit

The list of musical numbers is taken from the actual broadcast and are in order as they appear in the broadcast and include the characters' names who perform the song.
  • "Preludium" – Nuns
  • "The Sound of Music" – Maria
  • "Maria" – Sister Berthe, Sister Sophia, Sister Margaretta, and the Mother Abbess
  • "My Favorite Things" – Maria and the Mother Abbess
  • "My Favorite Things" (reprise 1) – Maria*
  • "Do-Re-Mi" – Maria and the children
  • "Sixteen Going on Seventeen" – Rolf and Liesl
  • "The Lonely Goatherd" – Maria and the children
  • "How Can Love Survive" – Max and Elsa
  • "The Sound of Music" (reprise) – The children, the Captain, and Maria*
  • "The Grand Waltz" (instrumental)
  • "Ländler" (instrumental)
  • "So Long, Farewell" – The children with the guest singing the final "Goodbye."
  • "Climb Ev'ry Mountain" – Mother Abbess
  • "The Lonely Goatherd" (reprise) – Max and the children*
  • "Do-Re-Mi" (reprise) - The children*
  • "Do-Re-Me" (reprise 2) - The Captain*
  • "The Sound of Music" (reprise 2) - The Captain and the children*
  • "My Favorite Things" (reprise) - The children with Maria joining towards the end
  • "No Way to Stop It" – Elsa, Max and the Captain.
  • "Something Good" – Maria and the Captain
  • "Processional" – Nuns
  • "Maria" (reprise) – Nuns
  • "Sixteen Going on Seventeen" (reprise) – Maria and Liesl
  • "Do-Re-Mi" (reprise 3) – Maria, the children, and the Captain
  • "Edelweiss" – The Captain, Maria, and the children
  • "So Long, Farewell" (reprise) – Maria, the children, and the Captain
  • "Finale Ultimo: Climb Ev'ry Mountain" - Nuns
  • "End Credits" (instrumental)

*These musical numbers are not included on the soundtrack.


Critical receptionEdit

The Sound of Music Live! received mixed reviews from entertainment critics, commending the show for its scope and supporting cast while questioning Underwood's acting capabilities. Prior to the broadcast, members of the real-life von Trapp family were critical of casting Underwood to play Maria, agreeing with the notion that she would be a good singer but a poor actor. They suggested that Anne Hathaway, who recently appeared in the 2012 film adaptation of Les Misérables, would have been a better choice.[12] On the topic Kevin Fallon of The Daily Beast wrote that "Naturally, Underwood sounded astounding, as alive as those damned hills, every time she was asked to stand on top of things and belt. But whether it was because of nerves or lack of experience, her acting was painfully lifeless and amateur throughout the first two thirds of the lengthy ordeal. The singer, it seems, is a proud graduate of the school of 'If I don't blink, they'll think I'm acting!'"[13]

However, Underwood's musical performance was near-universally praised. Verne Gay of Newsday noted that "[Underwood] can sing, and she is a luminous stage presence who had the guts to take on one of the most iconic roles of the stage or screen." [14]

Brian Lowry of Variety described the production "as lifeless as [its] alpine backdrops."[15] Much of the telecast's criticism was directed at Underwood. While Marc Bernardin of The Hollywood Reporter commended the production's aesthetics and Underwood's vocal performance, he criticized her acting, writing, "[Underwood] doesn’t acquit herself so well when it comes to the carrying the emotional weight of the production." Bernardin also spoke similarly of Moyer, criticizing his vocal performance and describing "his attempt at conveying an emotional hollowness" as "mildly constipated" and "clenched." However, he lauded Benanti, Borle and McDonald's "strong" performances.[16]


The Sound of Music Live! was watched by 18.62 million viewers and had a 4.6 rating in the 18–49 demographic (where it was beaten by The Big Bang Theory).[17] It was the most-watched program on the night, and had the largest non-sports Thursday audience for NBC since "Goodnight, Seattle", the series finale of Frasier in 2004 (which averaged 22.6 million viewers).[18] The show performed the best with women in the 25–54 demographic, reaching a household rating of 7.0 for that demographic during the primetime broadcast.[19]

Robert Greenblatt considered the production to be a success, and signed Meron and Zadan on to produce another live musical for the 2014 holiday season. Greenblatt believed that there were enough recognizable, family-friendly musicals to make events like The Sound of Music Live! an annual tradition, and indicated that over the following weekend, NBC received numerous e-mails and phone calls from theatrical rightsholders who expressed interest in having their musicals adapted in a similar fashion.[20]


Main article: List of The Sound of Music soundtracks
The Sound of Music- Music from the NBC Television Event

A soundtrack was released for the broadcast on December 3, 2013, two days before special aired. US Walmart stores released the soundtrack with a bonus disc that included nine bonus karaoke tracks.

Home media releaseEdit

The special was released on DVD on December 17, 2013,[21] through Universal Studios Home Entertainment. The DVD includes a behind-the-scenes look, titled "The Making of The Sound of Music Live!"[22] and a preview of the soundtrack.[23] It was released on DVD in Canada on January 7, 2014.[24]


  1. 1.0 1.1 Strecker, Erin (September 16, 2013). "'Sound of Music Live!' with Carrie Underwood: NBC announces more cast, releases poster". Entertainment Weekly. Entertainment Weekly Inc. Retrieved September 16, 2013. 
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 Bricker, Tierney (September 16, 2013). "First Look: Carrie Underwood as Maria in The Sound of Music". E! Online. E! Entertainment Television, LLC. A Division of NBCUniversal. Retrieved September 17, 2013. 
  3. 3.0 3.1 "The Sound of Music Live! - All Bios - Newest". NBCUniversal.!. Retrieved September 17, 2013. 
  4. Template:Cite album-notes
  5. Silverman, Stephen M.. "Carrie Underwood to Star as Maria von Trapp on TV's The Sound of Music". People.,,20652388,00.html. Retrieved 30 November 2012. 
  6. Eby, Margaret (September 17, 2013). "Carrie Underwood dons dirndl for NBC's 'The Sound of Music Live!' poster". New York Daily News. Retrieved September 17, 2013. 
  7. "‘Sound of Music Live’: Producers Call It a ‘Profoundly Complicated, Amazing Experience’". Variety. Retrieved 9 December 2013. 
  8. "NBC's 'Sound of Music' Producers on Live Show Fears and Big Expectations (Q&A)". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 9 December 2013. 
  9. "NBC Plots Aggressive Live Programming Strategy". AdAge. Retrieved 6 December 2013. 
  10. Template:Cite AV media notes
  11. 11.0 11.1 "The Sound of Music – Music from the NBC Television Event 2013". Masterworks Broadway. Sony Music Entertainment. Retrieved 2014-05-19. 
  12. Rothman, Michael (December 5, 2013). "Who the Von Trapps Wish Could Replace Carrie Underwood in ‘The Sound of Music Live’". ABC News. Retrieved December 6, 2013. 
  13. "‘Sound of Music Live!’ Review: The Hills Are Barely Alive". The Daily Beast. Retrieved 6 December 2013. 
  14. Gay, Verne (December 5, 2013). "'Sound of Music' -- and Carrie Underwood -- largely a success". Newsday. Retrieved 6 December 2013. 
  15. "TV Review: 'The Sound of Music Live!' ". December 5, 2013. 
  16. Bernardin, Marc (December 5, 2013). "The Sound of Music Live!: TV Review". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 6 December 2013. 
  17. Amanda Kondolojy (December 6, 2013). "Thursday Final Ratings: 'The Big Bang Theory' & 'The X Factor' Adjusted Up; 'Once Upon a Time in Wonderland', 'The Millers', 'Grey's Anatomy' & Scandal' Adjusted Down". TV by the Numbers. 
  18. Matt Webb Mitovich (December 6, 2013). "Ratings: NBC's Sound of Music Live! Does Something Very Good; Glee and Grey's Eye Lows". TVLine. 
  19. Jon Weisman (December 6, 2013). "'Sound of Music' Ratings Sing for NBC Thursday Night". Variety. 
  20. "NBC Says It Will Put On a Show, Again". The New York Times. Retrieved 10 December 2013. 
  21. BWW News Desk (November 23, 2013). "NBC to Release THE SOUND OF MUSIC LIVE! on DVD, Dec 17". Broadway World. Wisdom Digital Media. Retrieved November 25, 2013. 
  22. "'Slo 'Mo', Holi-GAYS, amd Sound of Music Live!' DVD coming up". Windy City Media Group. December 10, 2013. Retrieved December 14, 2013. 
  23. The Sound of Music Live! DVD. 2013. Universal Studios Home Entertainment. Main Menu.
  24. "The Sound of Music - Live (Bilingual): Carrie Underwood, Stephen Moyer, Neil Meron;Craig Zadan: DVD". (Canada),, Inc. Retrieved December 24, 2013.