Broadway fans are counting the days until NBC’s live telecast of Rodgers & Hammerstein’s The Sound of Music on December 5, but some musical mavens have reacted negatively to the casting of country music star and American Idol champ Carrie Underwood as Maria. Tony winner Laura Benanti, who made her Broadway debut as Maria when she was still a teenager and will play Baroness Elsa Schrader in the TV version, has no patience for the negativity.
“I think she is going to be great,” Benanti told Broadway.com of Underwood. “It always makes me sad when people seem to root against other people — it doesn’t feel generous. She is one of the most famous people in the world, and yet she is incredibly humble. She knows that she is a little bit out of her element here, but I have never seen a human being work as hard as she has, and she’s doing a really, really good job. I’ve seen tremendous growth in her over the past month, and we still have three more weeks to go, so I’m excited for her. I think she is going to prove the haters wrong.”
Benanti points out that Underwood “is going to bring in an audience that may not even know what musical theater is. She’s going to open up this genre to people who wouldn’t necessarily watch, and there’s enough Broadway people [including Audra McDonald as the Mother Abbess and Christian Borle as Max] that Broadway fans will be interested. I think it’s going to be a really fun evening for families.”
Check back on Broadway.com in the coming weeks for a full Q&A with Benanti, including more on The Sound of Music and a chat about her delightful live recording In Constant Search of the Right Kind of Attention.