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TV is alive to Sound of Music

New York, Nov. 26 (Reuters): Producers of a new version of the Oscar-winning musical The Sound of Music, set for US television next week, knew it would be a sacrilege to try and re-make the beloved 1965 movie classic starring Julie Andrews.

And American country singer Carrie Underwood, who will star as the aspiring nun who brings song into the home of a strict Austrian widower, says she cringes when she hears the word “re-make”.

So when the lights go up on the live, televised version of The Sound of Music on NBC on December 5, audiences will see a few twists to some of their favourite things, and a lonely goatherd or two in an unusual place.

That’s because producers Craig Zadan and Neil Meron have gone back to the stage show first seen in 1959 for their unique version that will be seen in a format, live television, not used for about 50 years.

“You would never, ever contemplate doing a re-make of the movie of The Sound of Music because it’s a classic. It’s perfect. It would be sacrilege. It would be huge mistake to even contemplate it,” Zadan said in an interview.

“We thought if we did the stage show, not on a Broadway stage but on movie sets, it would be something unique, a hybrid.

“It is an extraordinary experiment. The TV audience is going to see something live that has never been done in this generation,” he added.

Underwood, 30, who made her name by winning the TV singing show American Idol in 2005 and is now one of the biggest stars in country music with hits like Jesus, Take the Wheel. She plays Maria von Trapp, the lead role played by Andrews in the popular film.

True Blood TV actor Stephen Moyer plays the captain with seven children who leaves Austria rather than take a job with Hitler’s Navy on the eve of World War II. The cast also features award-winning Broadway stars Audra McDonald (Mother Abbess), Laura Benanti (Elsa Schrader) and Christian Borle (Max Dettweiler).

The Sound of Music won 5 Oscars. Though Andrews was nominated for best actress but did not win, she did win the Golden Globe award. The movie is one of the top 5 highest-grossing films worldwide of all time.

Zadan and Meron say that fans familiar with the musical could be in for a few surprises.

Not only is The Lonely Goatherd sung during a thunderstorm rather than My Favorite Things, as in the movie, but the stage show has a slightly darker tone, with more emphasis on the looming Nazi threat. “This version does have all the things that audiences love about the film, but they are presented in a new way for most people,” said Meron. “It brings out different values. The stage show has more substance regarding the encroaching Nazis,” he added.

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