The news came through Skype chat, a couple texts, Facebook, and at least one email: "Hey, did you know Carrie Underwood has been cast a to play Maria in NBC's remake of the Sound of Music?" (Made for TV? Really? has it come to this?). This on the heels of Larry Hagman's death, and I find myself caught once again in this surreal world that exists when your family has been immortalized in history (not to mention in song) by Broadway and Hollywood.
(What does JR's death have to do with all of this? Larry Hagman's mother was Mary Martin, who played Maria in the original Broadway production of the Sound of Music. And while he didn't know me from Adam, I always felt a certain kinship. After all, his REAL mother portrayed my REAL grandmother in a fictionalized musical based on the her autobiography. Bizarre thought, right?)
Anyway, it was the news of the SOM remake and in particular, Carrie Underwood as Maria that really got me. First of all, after 48 years in circulation, is it really possible to remake the SOM? That would be like trying to remake Gone with the Wind (and I haven't heard about anyone trying to do that yet). Its saving grace may be that it will be an adaptation of the original Broadway musical, rather than a remake of the Hollywood blockbuster. (If you've never seen a version of the stage production, there are a number of different songs, and it's slightly darker than it's 'made-for-family-viewing film counterpart.)
But Carrie Underwood as Maria? Seriously? I mean, I have nothing against her personally - she's an extremely talented country singer, but I'm pretty sure my father is repeatedly rolling over in his grave. Since the movie version of SOM won an Academy Award the year I was born, it's always been easy to identify with Julie Andrews' portrayal of my grandmother. It's a little harder to envision Carrie that way. (But I do realize that's what happens when Hollywood freezes time.) And while the girl can sing (although her voice lacks the Soprano purity of Julie Andrews) can she act? I'd like to know who else was in the running. Personally, I'd have put my money on Ann Hathaway, who in her upcoming role as Fantine in Les Miserable, proves that she can act and sing.
One thing is for sure, the news has created quite a stir on Facebook among the von Trapp cousins of several generations. While opinions are mixed, it seems most of us don't think Carrie can quite fill Dame Julie Andrews' dirndl; or Mary Martin's, for that matter. With all this indignation among the third and fourth generations, it makes me wonder, when they cast the original movie, what sort of comments my father and his siblings had about the actors who were portraying them and their parents. Maybe that's why they changed the names of the children.
In any case, what's done is done. It will be interesting to see how this all evolves from now until the movie airs sometime in 2013. Good luck to you, Carrie. We're a tough bunch to impress, and we'll be watching! ~ F.v.T