If you watched any of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, you heard about this: a live performance of “The Sound of Music” on NBC next Thursday, starring Carrie Underwood as Maria.
Will I be watching? You bet.
Like many of us, the mere thought of the musical brings on a massive case of the warm fuzzies. Like many of us, I know the score by heart (even the two songs sung by the Baroness in the Broadway version), and I’ve seen the film more times than I can count, and I even went on the Sound of Music tour in Salzburg in 1996 when I was living abroad, which is an experience I highly recommend if being on a large bus driving through the Austrian countryside with a bunch of singing American tourists is your idea of a good, or at least sociologically interesting, time. Four years ago, I even wrote an article about my love of the musical, which goes into more detail than I will here.
But the more I thought about this new version, and why I’m so insanely excited about it, I realized that my excitement is a testament to the power of nostalgia, on a few different levels.
There’s the nostalgia of remembering all the times I saw it as a kid, and all the living room productions that my sister and I and the neighborhood kids tried to plan. They never got anywhere — we had a serious lack of interested male cast members — but it was a blast to lip-synch to the records (oh boy, that dates me) and plan costumes.
There’s the nostalgia of remembering all the people who had the soundtrack: my grandparents (both sets), all my neighbors, my best friend’s mom. And at my wedding, my dad and I waltzed to “Edelweiss” for the father-daughter dance. More than a few people later told me how much they loved our choice of song.
There’s the nostalgia for a time when there was no DVR or DVDS or VCRS, a time when you had to wait for the network to air the show and you would stop and park yourself in front of the TV and you knew that your friends in their houses were doing the same.
There’s the nostalgia for a time I barely knew, a time when the blockbuster movies were not reliant on digitized special effects or action sequences but pulled the crowds in with the strength of a happy-making story and good songs and beautiful scenery.
And maybe there’s also some nostalgia for a movie that young kids and parents can watch together, one that everyone enjoys, one that the kids can see themselves in as well as the parents. (We may not be fighting the Nazi menace, but aren’t we all trying to find out what we are called to do and then do it to the best of our ability, as Maria learns when her vocation takes an unexpected turn?).
So yes, all told, I’m very much looking forward to seeing the new version. Admittedly, it’s hard to imagine Carrie Underwood as Maria, simply because she’s not Julie Andrews; likewise, it’s hard to imagine Stephen Moyer (long-lost family member of ours?) as the Captain instead of the urbane and every-so-slightly-sardonic Christopher Plummer. But I’ve learned over the years that even if you are seeing a production that is not the 1965 movie, there is a lovely warm feeling that always accompanies The Sound of Music, a blend of nostalgia and beautiful melodies and faith that maybe life does give you happy endings after all.
What do you think? Are you a huge “Sound of Music” fan too, and will you be watching next Thursday?