Something Good! ITV's THE SOUND OF MUSIC LIVE and the history of the classic R&H musical

America's TV network NBC were, until recently, the only television network that broadcasted live performances of family favourite musicals. With The Sound of Music in 2013 and Peter Pan in 2014 both falling short and proving to the world that maybe the concept isn't a good idea, it was up to The Wiz earlier this month to show the World that it is indeed an okay idea and land well it did.

Following the (now) success of the concept, the British television network ITV decided to give the Rodgers and Hammerstein tuner a spin starring EastEnders actress Kara Tointon and it went to show how flippant the UK are when it comes to these kinds of things.

In regards to general public opinion, Tointon has been heavily praised for her endearing and positive performance as Maria following the likes of Julie Andrews and Connie Fisher before her; Julian Ovenden was also praised for his performance as well as Katherine Kelly of Coronation Street fame, too. Unfortunately, it seems as though these positive criticisms were ultimately overshadowed by the public's lack of knowledge when it comes to the classic musical and my frustration towards this was something I shared on Twitter, and the 43 people that interacted with the tweet would appear to agree: arguing that the show is bad purely because the songs aren't in the order you expected them to be in is not a reason to dislike this broadcast. Unfortunately in my eyes, it not only highlighted how quick the British audience were to judge the show, but also that they were more than happy to argue without even checking their facts first - it's as if these people genuinely thought the movie didn't begin as a stage musical! Of course, knowing this fact meant that this didn't hinder the performance for me whatsover and despite the arguably misplaced casting (GBBO's Mel was just awkward for me, as were the children), sometimes clunky direction and seemingly slow pace of it all, I thoroughly enjoyed the evening and felt suitably content following the broadcast - I truly hope that ITV decide to do more broadcasts like these in the future.

Now, for those who didn't know that The Sound of Music started out as a stage production that isn't identical to the film adaptation with Julie Andrews (?!), let's take a look at this classic musical's history like I always seem to enjoy doing. The Sound of Music started its first Broadway run at the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre on November 16th, 1959 (the Lunt-Fontanne is now home to Finding Neverland) before moving to the Mark Hellinger on November 6th, 1962. The production concluded its run a few months later on June 15th, 1963 after 1,443 performances. The cast was led by the legendary Mary Martin as Maria at the ripe age of 46; a very big contrast to both Julie Andrews in the movie and Kara in the broadcast yesterevening. At the 1960 Tony Awards, the show shared the Best Musical prize with Fiorello! and Mary Martin took home one of the show's 5 Tony wins, for Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Musical. The musical didn't cross the pond over to London until May 1961 when it opened at the Palace Theatre and ran for 2,385 performances - almost double the run the show had on Broadway. By the time the original London and Broadway productions had closed, the film still hadn't surfaced (the film was released in 1965). The first production that ran following the film's major success was the Petula Clark-led London revival at the Apollo Victoria back in 1981. Other notable revivals include the 1998 Broadway revival led by three-time Tony-nominee Rebecca Luker and the 2006 London revival starring newcomer Connie Fisher following her famous reality TV show win in the BBC's 'How Do You Solve A Problem Like Maria?'

There are of course major differences between the stage show and the movie as was very clearly pointed out on Twitter last night. For starters, The Lonely Goatherd is a song that is not performed with puppets for the aristocrats who visit the Von Trapps like what happens in the movie at all. In fact, it is the song that Maria sings to the children to calm them during the storm, which in the film is when My Favourite Things is sung. In this instance, the stage show keeps that song at the start of the show between Mother Abbess and Maria to calm her nerves before she goes to the Von Trapp household. As a result of this being in the stage show, the written-for-the-movie song (that also tends to feature in subsequent productions) I Have Confidence is not included. As well as some songs being in 'different' places, there are also three duets in the stage version of The Sound of Music that don't feature in the film: How Can Love Survive? between Elsa and Max, No Way To Stop It between Elsa and Max, and An Ordinary Couple between Maria and The Captain (which last night was actually replaced with the film's version of that song, Something Good)

What did you think of The Sound of Music, and what would you like to seen ITV create as a live television musical next? Tweet me @shaunycat to let me know and don't forget that you can catch THE MAKING OF THE SOUND OF MUSIC LIVE tonight at 8pm over on ITV1.

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