Friday, December 6, 2013

The Sound of Music Live! with No Safety Net

Carrie Underwood as Maria seemed most at ease on stage 
when singing with the children.
Poo-poo to the haughty New York self-proclaimed theater purists.  Throw in the Polly-Pissy-Pants peeps condemning the production before the first line was delivered. Toss in all the whiners objecting to the cast.  It's time to get over yourselves and admit The Sound of Music Live! offered a refreshing break from the same old, same old TV junk. I say kudos to NBC for claiming the lead in returning to the intensity of live theater for a television audience.


Potential Chaos with No Safety Net

Like most live productions parts of the play delighted viewers while a few scenes caused some puzzled looks.  From the opening I was more than a little concerned about the cheesy set.  The background of fake aspen trees in the fake aspen forest caused flashbacks to building sets for high school productions. Nervously glancing around my living room, I almost expected a door to stick shut or a chandelier to crash to the floor. Once I got over the feeble outdoor set, I focused on the show.  Later,  I was relieved at the quality of the two other sets. The details of the grand open staircase seemed exquisite compared to the puny greenery of the mountainside.

The Carrie Underwood Non-controversy

In director's circles the timeless argument over actors versus singers persists.  Once upon a time I think I said something like, I'd rather have a talented actress who can sing a little than a great singer who can't act.  Another teacher usually responded with, No, that is a disasterIt's better to have an awesome singer without much acting experience. You can teach a singer to act but some actors will never be decent singers.  I'm gonna betray myself on the theory of preferring a seasoned actor over a good singer. Carrie Underwood  proved singing is more crucial than acting in this big number musical.  Considering the number of songs she performed, the difficulty of the numbers and the confidence needed to pull it off on a live stage, Underwood's moxie made some of the critics stop licking their chops.

What Do You Want from Her?  


Before Underwood was ever tapped for the role by producers Craig Zadan and Neil Meron, doubters lined up whispering their typical classless snark.  She only won a TV show; Big deal, she's not a real singer; the judges thought she was cuteit's not fair and other jealous drivel.  If Hollywood haters can't admit Underwood's pipes hit the mark, they need to find real jobs.  Her debut in musical theater was Audra McDonald, Carrie Underwood's vocals helped create the innocent character of Maria.  Playing the innocent hard-working governess fit into her natural disposition making the lyrics believable.  As far as acting is concerned, Underwood stood out during the scenes with the children. Her movements and dialogue transformed from stiff to second nature in all the numbers interacting with the von Trapp children.            
stunning. As a singer. Surrounded by vetted musical theater pros and the likes of the super talented


Was the Captain Hunky Enough?

Here's the deal. Carrie Underwood is a singer. She never professed otherwise. Meron said he was impressed with her ability to learn quickly.  She worked well with the cast and seemed a natural fit. The biggest problem-yes I said it,  the biggest problem with Underwood's inexperience on stage was believability. No way  did any sparks fly between her and Stephen Moyer, the captain.  With all of the time Moyer has invested on television and theater stages, he made little or no effort to create any chemistry. Come to think of it, no electricity between his fiancĂ©e Laura Benanti's character, Frau Schraeder ever flickered.  I'll pick Moyer as the battery in need of a charge.  Both relationships for the good Captain von Trapp fell flat.  Even the aggressive kiss Moyer stuck on Underwood's lips appeared to be forced and fake. He was okay as the anal-turned-loving father but not so much as the hunk two hot women wanted.

Go with the Flow of the Show

This show is a two-time viewing. The first time through the story too many distractions disrupt the flow.  Commercial interruptions.  The nature of the commercials.  Snack break.  Different scenes and songs contrasting the play and the movie.  Some of the flow of the story slowed down during unfamiliar scenes.  Beer break.  Bathroom break.

Against the nature of my typical critical self,  I must say I was quite delighted with the production.  I still want to flash a neon sign explaining the differences between  acting in a movie and preforming live theater.  And the differences between the original script and a movie adaptation.
 
It is possible today's expect-to-be-instantly-entertained audience can't grasp the idea of no remote or a rewind button.  Thank you.  That bonus helped the magical sense of the story unfold live in an almost embarrassing sense of intimacy.  Hopefully, enough viewers will push for more live productions like The Sound of Music Live! It's a perfect opportunity to have what's called quality family viewing time.


Sunday, December 1, 2013

To blog or not to blog?

Don't call it a comeback

A few years ago I made an effort to do a blog. I'd estimate the effort lasted a few months. Lucky for all of you, it seems to be making a comeback of sorts. Slow. But, starting to move a bit. Quite fitting due to one of my many nicknames appointed by my daughter. Turtle. That's the nickname, not my daughter.
In other words, the place is a bit of a mess. If you enter be prepared to find totally unrelated posts on extremely different topics. Think of it as the Potpourri category on Jeopardy! Someday I could start blogs on education, entertainment, sports, politics and/or personal stuff to make it easier for some readers not to wander into unexpected offensive territory. I could. Not sure if I ever will. But, it is a thought.
The word 'attempt' is a little strong considering my lack of attention, motivation and/or disappearance of mojo. Yet, smart person that I am, I see many blatant problems with said blog. In other words yes, I know it is all over the place. Yes, I know I need to focus on a niche. Yes, I know I should post on a regular basis. Hence, the use of the word 'attempt'. Someday (when  making memories w/ my granddaughter or spending precious time visiting my daughter becomes less important) I will split content into separate blogs. Someday. Maybe. Depends on priorities.
Writing club friends and blog gurus warn of losing readers by not posting enough content in a timely matter. Guess what? I care more about my loved ones than the opinion of another writer. This is just one more time when a reminder of my philosophy seems appropriate.  (WARNING. Sarcasm. Defiance. Message to gossipers and trouble makers.) Be yourself. Make your own decisions. Those close to you support you and love you. The rest of them? F'em if they can't take a joke. 
Crude. Could be softer. But, that's not me. You get the idea. Life is too short to care about what others think. To try to change for another person or regret too much of the past. Gotta savor the present.
When I started the blog it seemed more of a need than a want. Leaving a career in teaching to become a free-lance writer required such efforts. Social media, publishing sites, writing groups, professional memberships and writing workshops would surely prove I made the right choice. More than three years later, I am still trying to convince myself.
Photos of fam including daughters Amy (top left), Andy (bottom left)
son Shawn (bottom right, granddaughter Anna, husband Mark.

Face painting. It is fun to be a dinosaur!
Leaving the restrictive environment of the workplace certainly afforded me the time to create special memories with my granddaughter, Anna. As Gaga PJ, I've become a VIP in her world. When Anna started talking she struggled to say grandma. It eventually came out sounding like 'gaga'. Then my title officially evolved into Gaga PJ. BTW if Lady Gaga ever tries to sue, she is the one in violation. It was MY name first!
Leaving the classroom also allowed me to stay with my daughter at Hope Lodge during chemo and radiation treatment at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN.  She's the first to say all things happen for a reason. She's right. When I place the correctness of blogs or the conventions of writing into perspective, maybe organizing a blog doesn't make the upper level of my priorities. It's all about perspective.

It wasn't until after I posted this picture on multiple
sites that I noticed the bar. Is it wrong to have a
backdrop of alcohol for a five-year-old's art "studio"?