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'The Sound of Music' gets NBC makeover Thursday

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SALT LAKE CITY — The hills are alive this Thursday as musical history is made. NBC will be broadcasting "The Sound of Music" live.

This is no ordinary broadcast, however. Those hoping for yet another rerun of the beloved Julie Andrews classic are going to be in for a surprise. The Andrews' version will not be airing until Dec. 22 on ABC.

Thursday's performance will be a live televised stage production of the original Rodgers and Hammerstein production in the style of Broadway theater, clocking in at roughly three hours long. Almost fifty years since "The Sound of Music" originally wooed audiences in movie houses across the country, Thursday's performance will star Carrie Underwood as Maria, alongside Stephen Moyer as Captain von Trapp.

While numerous revivals have come and gone on Broadway, this represents the first major attempt at an audiovisual production along the scale of the 1965 film, directed by Robert Wise.

This NBC production is unique in a number of ways. Thursday's presentation will be live. Broadcast from a lavish New York sound stage, the set trumps the typical Broadway fare that viewers may be accustomed to. While lacking the natural scenery that on-site filming in Salzburg provided, the visuals are nevertheless stunning, relying on the viewer's willing suspension of disbelief to fill the gap through the power of imagination.

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NBC's "The Sound of Music Live!" does not aim to detract from the historicity of the famed classic. Those who plan to eschew Thursday's performance by rolling their eyes and claiming they can quote every line from the film will be in for a surprise. Wise deviated from the original musical across the board in 1965, removing songs, adding new songs, and making a number of other changes. NBC's production is a revival based on the original Rodgers and Hammerstein masterpiece. Viewers will hear songs that are not in the film version, and be treated to a slightly different story arc.

Additionally, steps have been taken to avoid simply presenting the same overfamiliar film with high definition cameras, a new cast, and fresh coat of paint. Gone, for example, is the garden pavilion and benches that Liesl won hearts over with while performing "Sixteen going on Seventeen." Instead, Liesl and Rolf will stage that performance in a forest, adding new depth to their blossoming relationship, with a few unexpected twists not present in the 1965 film.

There will be no dearth of surprises in store for both "Sound of Music" fanatics and those who cannot remember the last time they endured sitting through to the final refain of "Climb Ev'ry Mountain" as the credits started to roll.

The premiere of "The Sound of Music Live!" airs Thursday, Dec. 5 at 7 p.m. MT on NBC. Joseph Irvine is an engineer in Madison, Ala., currently working on a master's degree at the University of Alabama. A Broadway fan, Joseph looks forward to Thursday's production and hopes to someday see the Andrew Lloyd Webber revival.

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Joseph Irvine

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