Monday, December 9, 2013

The Sound and Some Fury

Last week's live broadcast of the stage version of "The sound of Music" prompted me to grab a book I have been saving as a gift, should the proper occasion arise.  Several years ago, I picked up a copy of The Story of the Trapp Family Singers for .50 at a rummage sale.  Returning home, I discovered the book was autographed by Maria Von Trapp and several of her children.  Assuming it to be quite valuable, I went back to where I bought.  The owner said he just wanted things gone.  There was sadness in his voice and eyes.  It was then that I decided to save the book as a gift, hoping that some day my talented friend Emily would play Maria, and then the book could be hers.  

Let me be honest here, I have never been a big fan of the musical - not a fan of sentimentality in general. But, I do respect theatre and the richness it brings to my life.  Maria Von Trapp tells this story with gentle words, sincerity and an admirable reverence.  Some details differ from the script.  For some reason, the script writers changed the children's names, and did not include reference to the sick child that was to be Maria's main concern.  I learned that Maria was not asked to leave the convent because she was too spirited, but rather because her health suffered due to the dramatic change from the freshness of pure mountai  air to the conditions in cloistered life.  Maria was cautioned to remember that she was only "on loan" from the convent, and was to return in one year.  We all know that didn't happen.  Many of the stage plays lines have been taken directly from Maria's autobiography.

In the final pages, she writes of the Captain's death - a long drawn out cancer battle that had been misdiagnosed by more than one doctor.  For the longest time, Maria believed the doctors, but she had always promised Georg she would tell him when he was reaching the end of his life.  When that fact becomes evident, she does as she had promised, keeping vigil, praying and singing with the children throughout.  

The live TV telecast, and especially Carrie Underwood, has met with lots of negativity.  My first reaction, too, was that she tanked.  But I eased up eventually.  Underwood didn't miss a note.  She delivered her lines without the tiniest of baubles.  She hit all her marks and knew where the cameras were at all times.  Her delivery was flat, but maybe this was too much too soon for her.  And, a performer's learning curve is on full display.  Golfers can practice in private; artists draw in the privacy of their studios, but performers have go live to discover what they have yet to learn.  Maybe Underwood's managers, handlers or others including the production's director ill advised her.  If you watch her perform on music awards show, you know she's got it, she just needs the right team to coax it out of her in other genres.  And, come on, Captain Von Trapp played by a rather experienced actor, did not sert the screen  afire either.  Audra MacDonald?  Love her most of the time, but my TV set is still shaking from that vibrato.  

My last ranty bit on the subject is this - during a time when we should be reflecting on other subjects like the incredible life and work of Nelson Mandela to name just one, why are so many people picking on Carrie Underwood?  Too many priorities are out of whack.  Maybe 2014 will be the year we put entertainment back into perspective and let more significant issues take center stage.

Thanks for stopping by.