Wednesday, September 10, 2014

What's with all the Musical Hate?

Last year, NBC broadcast The Sound of Music Live!, and over 18 million people tuned in to watch Carrie Underwood teach the Von Trapp children.  It was inevitable that NBC would try to replicate that success by putting on another show, and this December Peter Pan Live! (I love how dramatic! these titles are, by the way) will fly into living rooms.  The first still appeared online last week, and it appears that the knives are out for it.  Has the yearly televised musical become a long-awaited punching bag for audiences?  Or does it simply have to do with who stars in the show?

When it comes to musical theater, people usually fall into 2 very separate camps: the lovers and the hate it! hate it! haters.  As a former musical theater major, I'm sure you can guess where I fall.  When the musical film genre got revitalized at the beginning of the 2000's, I was definitely on board with it.  I loved Chicago, Moulin Rouge!, and I admit that I liked The Producers.  The opportunity to see a musical in any medium is something that I welcome with open arms.  

When Sound of Music Liiiiiiiiive! was announced, the big talk was mainly about who was going to play Maria, the coveted role immortalized by Julie Andrews.  It went to Carrie Underwood, and the poor thing was subjected to torture from day one.  I admit that I was never in Carrie's camp, but that was after I saw the first promotional poster.  She looked a bit possessed, but that's not her fault.  The one time that photoshop is called for, and no one decides to use it?  

Before Music (Liiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiive!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!) was broadcast, people were against Underwood's performance.  The real Von Trapp's even went as far to say that they would've replaced Underwood with recent Oscar-winner Anne Hathaway (seems Myles von Trapp Derbyshire thought Underwood carried a tabloid persona along with her name).  Underwood was called out for not having that much acting experience, and people noted that she would be surrounded by Broadway regulars such as Audra McDonald and Christian Borle.  

When the big night came, it was a tweeting massacre.  You couldn't twirl atop a mountain without hitting at least 100 tweets about someone's opinions about the live show and Underwood's performance.  The rest of the production received high praise, and McDonald's "Climb Every Mountain" earned raves.  

When the news broke that NBC would be continuing their live Broadway the following year, there was lots of chatter as to what musical would be chosen.  It had to be something family-friendly--surely, NBC wanted to repeat the success of Music again and, probably, make this a yearly event.  It's something they obviously want families to tune into every winter.  When Peter Pan Live! was announced, the heckling began.  And it didn't stop.  

Are we all just theater bitches?  I've been involved with theater pretty much my entire adult life (yes, I'm only 30, so that sounds like such a stupid statement), and people can be catty just for the sake of catty.  It could also be attributed that people tweet and comment on whatever they want, because they are hidden under their twitter handles.  

Allison Williams will be playing Peter Pan in this December's production.  When her casting was announced, it seemed that everyone rolled their eyes.  No one thinks one of the girls from Girls is right to play Captain Hook's young nemesis.  A lot of opposition seems to come from Williams' work on the HBO show, and I have to say something about it.  People will bitch either way.  I don't think all the people that gripe about Girls actually watch Girls.  Somewhere along the way, bashing it (it still happens) became the "it" thing to do.  Williams' Marnie isn't an easy character.  God forbid we have someone difficult to read.  

Are people really complaining about the musicals themselves, or are they just bashing the leading ladies?  Christopher Walken is set to play Hook, and I personally didn't hear a peep about his casting.  Is it just easier to make comments about the women, because they are at the forefront?  If musicals aren't your thing, it must be super easy to log onto Twitter and just make mean comments about all the stuff that's happening.  Or even if you do love musicals, it's easy to judge the work of others.  In Underwood's defense, it must have been terrifying for her.  She was headlining the entire thing, and she was surrounded by other veteran Broadway performers.  If she appeared wooden or nervous, it's completely understandable.  

I admit that I don't know Sound of Music (I know, I know, shut up), so it was easy for me to judge.  I do, however, like Peter Pan (you know, for what it's worth), and I genuinely like Allison Williams.  Perhaps that's why I feel the need to defend it.  While some people are looking forward to NBC's annual musical extravaganza, it appears that others are sharpening their knives.  

If you are a fan of musicals, you should be thankful that some of these Broadway performers get to stretch their legs a little more--something that I didn't realize right away while I watched Music.  It was pretty awesome to see McDonald, Borle, and Laura Benanti getting to do what they do best for a larger audience.  For Pan, Borle is set to play Mr. Darling and Smee, and Kelli O'Hara will play Mrs. Darling, respectively.  

Maybe the initial reactions are just loud, and it will die down?  Who knows.  


  1. And then there is the opposite of the haters - My favorite (sarcastically) were all the people posting about Audra McDonald as that lady from Private Practice. "What a voice! Who knew?" SMH. Even my mother went on and on about how great she was..."She's going to be a big star! They need to give her her own album!" {More head shaking} I had to tell her that she and I saw Audra in the OBC of Ragtime and that she's won more Tony's than any other actor.

  2. I heard the same stuff. It's horrible! But I'm super jealous that you got to see the original cast of Ragtime!