Smash, Private Practice, Go On Stars Joining Carrie Underwood in NBC's Live Sound of Music

Audra-McDonald-Sound-of-MusicNBC’s live version of The Sound of Music — starring Carrie Underwood — is turning into quite the Tony affair.

The network announced today that TV and stage vets Audra McDonald (Private Practice), Laura Benanti (Go On) and Christian Borle (Smash) — Tony Award winners all of ‘em! — have been added to the cast of the musical, which is slated to air Dec. 5.

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Five-time Tony-winner McDonald will portray Mother Abbess, Benanti has been cast as Elsa Schrader and Borle is set to play Max Dettweiler.

Six-time Grammy Award winner Underwood was previously announced as Maria, with True Blood’s Stephen Moyer as Capt. Georg Von Trapp.

According to the network, the three-hour Sound of Music telecast will be based on the original 1959 Broadway production, with music and lyrics by Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein, and a book by Howard Lindsay and Russel Crouse.

Excited by this casting news? Will the McDonald-Benanti-Borle trifecta make you more likely to tunr in? Sound off in the comments!

Comments are monitored, so don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse and don’t bore us with how much your coworker’s sister-in-law makes per hour. Talk smart about TV!

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49 Comments
  1. J says:

    So, given the pedigree of the second-bananas, what do you think the over/under is that Elsa and Max’s songs make the cut?

  2. Fernanda says:

    Can’t to see them,.. Audra is my favorite Broadway Gold of the bunch.

  3. Merissa says:

    Those additions will up the Broadway factor. I was already in, but now I’m REALLY excited!!

  4. Romi says:

    So excited! They are all amazingly talented.

  5. SJ says:

    Where’s Jane Krakowski? Make it happen, TV gods!

  6. the girl says:

    I need to know why this is happening. The Sound of Music is already pure movie musical perfection. I just don’t get it and I am not impressed by the idea of Carrie Underwood as Maria.

    • J says:

      NBC is trying out the “live musical event” format that disappeared a long time ago, now that musical entertainment is more popular.

      Personally I’m excited. Lord knows that Sound of Music has been revived thousands of times onstage since the movie, and the presence of a good movie doesn’t mean you never produce again.

    • Ever says:

      This is based on the Broadway version of it, and not the movie. There are several differences. So, it’s a live staging of the musical version. Similar to seeing a live Broadway show.

    • Ann says:

      Carrie Underwood as Maria is underwhelming to me too. But she does have a nice voice. Not sure how she can act though. And I realize that NBC needs to cast someone well-known in that role to draw ratings. I want this live staging to succeed so that hopefully this would be the renewal of live staged shows. Carrie Underwood is a superstar, so I’m pretty sure she’ll bring in a lot of curious viewers…so, in that aspect, I think she is a great choice for Maria.

      • Meg Arredondo says:

        Carrie Underwood? Great Country star- but she doesn’t have the right voice for this. Heard her version of The Hills Are Alive. No Phrasing, the tag at the end was inappropriate, her vowels stank, etc. I am so sick of Hollywood making movies of Broadway shows and hiring a name to play a part instead of a voice. Let me think- Russle Crow and Javert? Didn’t work!! And then there was the Phantom!

  7. Barbie says:

    Are they doing a modern version of the affair? Because Audra is awesome, but I don’t imagine they had many black women in 1930s’ Austria. Seems historically innacurate.

    • Meg says:

      Seriously, does it really matter? You must have also been one of the critics that called The Little Mermaid production unrealistic because mermaids don’t exist.

      • Barbie says:

        Not really, but when you’re doing a piece so historically charged, you should watch that

        • WayneInNYC says:

          The convent is the *one* place where they can cast a person of color in the show. It’s not like they’re casting Elsa, Max or any of the children with a person of color.

          • twilight123 says:

            ^ Exactly This! Casting Audra makes sense because few, well really none right now, have her Broadway pedigree. It legitimizes the production in “certain” eyes. Also, few have the ability to do both stage and television work well, which they will need (hence all the new casting choices of broadway winners who have also had some amount of a tv career). But where do you put her? The head nun is really the only place that makes any sense at all. Plus her high soprano is going to sound GLORIOUS in the role!

    • J says:

      They call it non-traditional casting. It’s far more prevalent in live performances like this than in anything filmed. Look at Norm Lewis in Les Misérables as another example.

    • liz says:

      Some of the highest calibre theatre companies have been casting actors of colour in traditionally white roles for a while now. Shakespeare is the most notable. The Stratford Festival in Canada has seen actors of colour play major leading roles. Its really a rather irrelevant point I think.
      .
      And its not “historically accurate” for people to randomly break into incredibly-catchy-well-written lyrical song either. So……

    • Josh says:

      Just be glad we’re getting a high quality performance of one of the greatest musical theatre songs. And please stop making plastic dolls everywhere look ignorant.

  8. Alia says:

    The rest of the cast seem wonderful, but I have zero desire to see Carrie Underwood as Maria.

  9. S. from A. says:

    I have never seen “The Sound of Music” (I am Austrian which basically means that you never watch “TSoM” : P ) but with Audra in it I am actually considering giving in and watching this version. ^^

  10. Alison Dodd says:

    This is great casting news but surely the addition of such talent in the supporting roles will just serve to highlight how wrong the casting of Carrie Underwood as Maria is? I understand the need to have a name in the lead that has appeal beyond the traditional musical theater crowd, but it damages NBC’s credibility when they’re clearly a bad fit. Guess we’ll just wait and see if they can soften her country style a bit.
    .
    I’m curious who they’re gonna have play Liesel – hopefully someone from Broadway who can use this as a showcase for their talent. And what about the rest of this kids? Fingers crossed for some real talent there and not just model kids who can barely hold a tune.
    .
    There was a brilliant production of Sound of Music in London this year so, for me, they have a (impossibly?) high bar to live up to.

    • steven says:

      The casting of Carrie Underwood was right in a way because she can actually sing. As long as her singing is good, people may forget all about the acting..

      • Matt says:

        For those of you who think Carrie is just a country singer, or think that she cannot act, are dumb and ignorant, and anyone who as actually heard her sing will know that she can sing just about ANYTHING!!

    • CBB says:

      How about Arianna Grande for Liesel? She can pull off a little younger has a beautiful voice and has done Broadway (13).

      • Pam Durst says:

        When are they casting Liesel and the nuns? Since they are using all these superstars why don’t they use an unknown looking for her big break that is trained in musical theatre. What a wonderful chance for a musical theatre graduate to land the role of Liesel. And introducing…

  11. Carl says:

    I’m sooooooooooo excited now!!!!!!!!

  12. Viv says:

    I don´t even know who Carrie Underwood is? I will google her later. But I love the rest of them and I´m really excited about the whole idea.

    • Matt says:

      I understand that there are some people who will not know who certain singers are, but seriously?, she is one of the most well-known people in the world!! Someone would have to be a complete idiot to not know who she is!

      • Thea says:

        Idiot is g

      • Thea says:

        Idiot is going a bit far. Contrary to popular belief, not everyone in the USA listens to Country or watches American Idol. Also, not every commenter on TVLine is American.

      • Lea says:

        What is it with you? Carrie Underwood is virtually unknown in Europe. So there. I guess that makes an entire continent idiots.
        And insulting everyone who’d rather see an established performer of musical theater portray Maria won’t convince anyone that Underwood is the right choice. So maybe you could stop calling people dumb, ignorant and idiots. It just serves to reveal that you are being ignorant here.

  13. iammusic says:

    I’m a little bit more excited about it, now that this casting has been added. But even Audra McDonald singing Climb Every Mountain won’t get me to like the song.

    • Gail says:

      I guess Audra will also sing My Favorite Things with Carrie as that how the song was used in the play. Will I have Confidence and Something Good be missing since they were written for the movie? I believe later stage versions of the musical included them. Sill at 3 hours less commercials something has to be cut.

  14. Davey says:

    I think it’s sad that wonderful stage singers like Laura Benanti and Audra McDonald are playing second fiddle to Carrie Underwood who has zero musical theater backgroun.

    • Ann says:

      I don’t think those actors mind. They are professionals. Besides, they understand that Carrie Underwood is a superstar and was cast for ratings…and I’m pretty sure they’re excited about the prospect that a major network is willing to take the risk of bringing live musical theater to television. Besides, Carrie Underwood isn’t that bad of a choice. She’s young and different…exactly who Maria needs to be…young and different.

  15. twilight123 says:

    Audra McDonald. It’s all you had to say. This just became appointment television for me.

  16. Gail says:

    Its interesting they are doing the Sound of Music. I am sure it was chosen because it is so well known. However the fact that this will not be the movie will leave many people only familiar with the movie disappointed at the changes that will be made. They could probably do a terrific TV version of a musical like Wonderful Town, which was never made into a movie, and no one would watch it.

    • Aprilcot says:

      I grew up watching the movie, but I have yet to have a chance to see The Sound of Music on the stage. I am really excited about this, and am interested in seeing the differences! I only hope they keep I Have Confidence…one of my faves!

  17. Leo says:

    Talk about being overshadowed by your supporting players. What a great cast. Audra McDonald is just amazing. Carrie should quit right now and let them hire someone better for the role.

  18. RichieS says:

    Casting Underwood reminds me of Smash season 1 when they cast Uma Thurman as Marilyn. Speaking of Smash, C.Borle was great casting.

  19. Jody says:

    Nice to see Christian Borle but I wish they would add Katherine McPhee – I love her voice!

  20. K2 says:

    And since we’re talking about great voices, let’s not forget Megan Hilty!

  21. Temperance says:

    I’m not sure that you can go wrong here… except for maybe Underwood.

  22. big city me says:

    Carrie sings too much with her throat. They needed to cast someone with musical theater experience/training with a voice that’s more pure like Julie Andrews was. Whoever is playing the leading man doesn’t quite look old enough for the original character either.

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