Poor Carrie Underwood. The country superstar is really not getting a fair shake this week.
Despite having a very limited formal acting résumé (2011’s “Soul Surfer,” plus a guest appearance on “How I Met Your Mother” in 2010), the former American Idol gamely accepted the challenge of taking on one whopper of a role: The recreation of one of the most beloved characters in film history, “The Sound of Music’s” Maria Von Trapp.
Oh yeah, and not just any redux. Underwood performed this live, on a three-hour telecast, surrounded by a cast of Broadway veterans and Tony Award winners Thursday night on NBC. She also fielded a barrage of public outrage in the form of hate-filled social media posts blasting her blasphemy in even considering Julie Andrews’s (really, Mary Martin’s, actually) famous role prior to even stepping foot on stage.
It’s hard to come up with an equivalent parallel of sheer chutzpah, but probably Gwyneth Paltrow’s vocal performance (with Vince Gill, none the less) at the 2010 Country Music Association Awards is the closest we can get.
However, unlike Paltrow — who fared relatively well in terms of response — Underwood received a great deal of panning for her acting, ranging from professional critiques to just plain snarky civilian tweets playing off just about every line of the musical’s score possible (to wit: “How do you solve a problem like Carrie Underwood?”— hardy har har).
This really isn’t warranted for two reasons. Number one, and flat-out, Underwood really didn’t do that bad of a job considering her limitations in this arena and the conditions under which she was exploiting them. Number two, her shakiness in the acting side of things had absolutely zero effect on her strong point, singing, which was spot-on as ever.
So, seriously, haters — shut your Von Trapps already, unless you yourselves could do a better job (which you couldn’t).
For those who did appreciate the stronger points of Underwood’s appearance — the sound, if you will — the soundtrack to the production was released this week and features not only Underwood’s impeccable vocal work, it also includes stirring takes from the rest of the cast; in particular, several powerful numbers from Tony and Grammy winner Audra McDonald who played Mother Abbess in the show.