As the universe knows by now, country music star Carrie Underwood is starring in a live telecast of The Sound of Music on December 5. We have absolutely no doubt that Underwood will sing and act the role of Maria with aplomb—and her casting got us thinking about five other classic Rodgers & Hammerstein musicals that could be performed live, with a pop superstar in the lead. The list below is slightly tongue-in-cheek, but the truth is, with the right preparation, our suggested divas could deliver the goods. Just ask Oscar winner Jennifer Hudson or Golden Globe winner Madonna.
Taylor Swift as Laurey in Oklahoma!
She knew Jud Fry was trouble when he walked in! Taylor Swift became the world’s biggest pop star with self-penned songs of romantic longing in the vein of R&H’s “People Will Say We’re in Love,” and as farmgirl Laurey, she can pull off a drug-induced dream sequence—not to mention find a going-away outfit that will look awesome in Curly’s shiny little surrey with the fringe on top.
Katy Perry as Anna Leonowens in The King and I
Picture Katy Perry arriving in Bangkok in demure, 19th-century schoolmarm chic, facing down an arrogant, shirtless King of Siam. (Those royal wives had better watch their backs.) Now skip to the famous dancing scene, with the king twirling Katy (er, Anna) in a Dior-esque ball gown. She’s got the eye of the tiger, and you’re gonna hear her roar. Or at least whistle a happy tune.
Lady Gaga as Nellie Forbush in South Pacific
The artist formerly known as Stefani Germanotta starred in Guys and Dolls at the Upper East Side girls’ school Sacred Heart, so she knows her way around a Broadway tune. Emile de Becque won’t know what hit him when saucy nurse Gaga arrives for an enchanted evening. And there’ll be “Applause” aplenty when Lady G sheds her wig to wash that man right outta her hair.
Christina Aguilera as Julie Jordan in Carousel
Back when it was acceptable to title a song “You’re a Queer One,” R&H created the heartbreaking love story of millworker Julie Jordan and carousel barker Billy Bigelow. Christina Aguilera is the perfect drama queen for this musical tragedy—words can’t bring her down—and we can’t help picturing sexiest man Adam Levine wooing his Voice nemesis as Billy.
Ariana Grande as Cinderella in Cinderella
This one is a ringer, since Ariana Grande has already done eight shows a week on Broadway in Jason Robert Brown’s short-lived 13. Now she can lead “The Way” toward the TV debut of the Great White Way’s revised Cinderella, which features a feistier title character. A lovely night is assured as pop music’s popular new sweetheart transforms from servant to princess.