I was walking down Broadway yesterday, amidst the throngs of tourists, and I overhead one 40-something year old dude from somewhere south of the Mason-Dixon line ask his buddy, “Hey, did you see that Sound of Music thing on TV the other night?”
NBC’s Live Sound of Music is what everyone, everywhere seems to be talkin’ (and tweetin’) about lately, so I thought it was only time I dove into the conversation. I saw it on Friday night, actually, thanks to NBC’s free stream on their website.
So what did I think? Well, look, I’m a
perfectionist producer, so I’ve always got something to nit pick about, but as I watched, I had to pinch punch myself several times. Was I actually seeing a live Broadway show performed on a major network in prime time? Or did I somehow travel back in time like Richard Collier to the days of old, when people actually gave musicals the major media attention that the American art form deserves.
It was real, alright. It was real. And here are just a few of my favorite things from the show:
1. I know that person, and that person, and that person.
Working on Broadway and watching the show was like playing “Where’s Waldo” but the Waldo was all those hard working Broadway folks that we all know and love. How awesome to see Audra and Christian and Laura Benanti doing what they do best but on the small screen . . . but how about Jessica Molaskey and Christiane Noll and Bridges of Madison County‘s Elena Shaddow?
Broadway has the hardest working actors in the entertainment industry, and I’m glad we had so many of them get the attention that they deserve. Millions should see them much more often.
2. If Carrie can do it, I can too!
Carrie Underwood is one of the biggest living country stars in the . . . yep . . . world. She would never have done a show on Broadway. Her “people” (e.g. agents, managers, lawyers, and so on) wouldn’t let her spend the six months or more that a producer like me would need in order to make a major musical work. But she could do this. And, let’s face it, she didn’t have to. It was a monster risk, yet she did it anyway. And, ok, so she isn’t Stanislavski or Julie Andrews or even that Julie girl I went to Tisch with who I always thought would break through, but we still owe Ms. Underwood a huge debt of gratitude. She helped introduce a whole new (and huge – see below) audience to the world of musicals. And now other big, mammoth stars (and their “people” will want to do the same . . . and that’s good for all of us. (And if we’re really lucky, Carrie will appear on the Tonys this year.)
3. It’s the show, stupid.
Here’s something I was reminded of pretty early into the telecast . . . The Sound of Music is a fantastic musical. Great characters, great story and great freakin’ songs . . . with beautifully simple melodies and lyrics. For those of you out there writing musicals (including the guy writing this blog), it was a great reminder of how to do it. Those Rodgers and Hammerstein guys . . . they are going places.
4. Did I mention it was live?
Was it just me or were you a little more nervous for everyone because it was live? Did it have an American Idol feel? Or a football game feel? Maybe even Nascar? That’s the magic of “live” and the producers, Craig Zadan and Neil Meron, as well as this courageous guy, knew that and took a huge gamble in airing it in real time. Live is what makes Broadway Broadway. And it’s what made the telecast even better.
5. Um, how many millions watched it? Are you sure?
Yeah, so . . . 18.5 million people watched it. 18.5 million!!! It would take 1,285 weeks in an 1800 seat theater for that many people to see it on Broadway! Here are some adjectives that have been used to describe the ratings in other articles online: “Massive,” “Monster,” “Exceeded expectations!” (My favorite). These are the kind of quotes that matter, not review quotes (this goes for Broadway shows too, by the way). So what does this mean? It means that I’d bet you 18.5 million dollars that NBC will do another one of these. And soon. And more and more 40-something dudes from north and south of the Mason Dixon line will be talking about Broadway in the future. These telecasts could be one of the biggest weapons we have to solve our attendance problem . . . and we don’t even have to pay to fire it!
If you haven’t seen the telecast, click here.
And then make sure you get the recording, because Carrie sings like a dream and Audra’s “Climb Ev’ry Mountain” is a new classic.
And then tell me what you think in the comments below!
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