Everybody loves a snow day: Musings on the weather, the Ravens, new snowblowers, and “The Sound of Music Live”

 

Sunday afternoon view of the garden from our home in Bel Air

There’s nothing like a snow day. Be assured, educators love them just as much as their students. Sunday’s forecast was more than a tad off as we actually had about ten inches of the white stuff at our home in Bel Air.

A Snowy Baptism:

We ventured out early Sunday morning to attend the Baptism of my niece’s daughter in Jarrettsville. The weather predictions called for an inch or two of snow which would change to freezing rain and sleet later in the afternoon. By the middle of the 9 a.m. church service we could see the snow falling steadily out the side windows. We were all surprised to see several inches coating both the ground and the roads when we were ready to leave.

“White Christmas” at the Hippodrome:

My husband and I had theatre tickets to see the 1 p.m. matinee of “White Christmas” at the Hippodrome in Baltimore. So we reluctantly decided to forgo the Baptism brunch due to the fast-falling snow to try to get into the city and grab a bite to eat at the theatre cafe.

But the road conditions were already treacherous. We were perched on the edge of our seats due to the poor visibility, exacerbated by the ice forming on the windshield wipers. It was distressing to say the least. By the time we got to Route 152 near Fallston, we had all but decided to bag our plans for the holiday musical and head home. Cars were sliding off the road, one landed sideways facing the wrong direction in a ditch. We were definitely heading home now.

With traffic on the hill of Belair Road at a standstill, we had to join the other drivers and turn around on this busy, slick road to find an alternate route. It took 90 minutes to get to Bel Air from Jarrettsville. We were ready to hug the dog and stay indoors for the rest of the day!!

Excitement with the Ravens:

In the end, we “traded” our theatre tickets for the excitement of watching the Ravens game on the big screen at home while keeping warm and toasty. Those last two minutes were almost as hard on the nerves as the ride from from Jarrettsville that morning. What a game!! Folks will be talking about those last two minutes with five touchdowns for years to come, I’m sure.

Finally, our new snowblower makes its debut:

After the game, my husband was able to power up the snow blower he bought almost three years ago for its first use. It has been sitting in our garage new and unused, except for being started a few times a year to keep it ready for its eventual snow debut. Yesterday was the big day: George had our driveway done in no time. Daisy our pug took one look at the snow and went to the door to go back inside. She’s no dummy!!

Our snowblower gets its first run on Sunday

 

Monday snow day!!

Nothing beats an early announcement the evening before that county schools will be closed the next day!! Thanks to Harford County (and several others) for delighting the hearts of thousands of students and their teachers and administrators. Everyone loves a snow day.

It’s good to treat a snow day like a bonus and do some things that you actually enjoy. So besides the laundry and mundane house chores, today has included extra cups of coffee, holiday candles burning, lunch here with my husband who works from home, and great Pandora music from the “Frankie  Valli and the Four Seasons Holiday” station playing through the house on our new Sonos system.

“The Sound of Music Live”

When George was busy taking business calls, it seemed like a good time to catch up with the DVR. So I was finally able to watch “The Sound of Music Live” with Carrie Underwood from last Thursday night. A three-hour show on a school night usually doesn’t work for us, so this snow day was perfect timing.

I have been a fan of “The Sound of Music” all my life. I have always loved the 1965 Julie Andrews film which I first saw on the big screen when I was a child. The original LP is still in my “record case,”well-worn from being played so often throughout my youth and college years.

This classic movie with Julie Andrews and Christopher Plummer is exactly that: classic. How do you remake a classic? Imagine if “Gone with the Wind” or “It’s a Wonderful Life” were remade… As we know, not many remakes are as successful as the originals.

Audra McDonald as the Reverend Mother:

But I had seen a sneak-peak with Audra McDonald singing “Climb Every Mountain” on the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree Lighting on December 4. She is an incredible talent with an amazing voice which I have admired greatly since I first saw her play Sarah in the Broadway musical “Ragtime” in 1998. What a voice!!

My dear friend Sister Roseann, SSJ, who has directed many musicals over the years, including several productions of “The Sound of Music,” has always said that the casting of the Mother Abbess role is critical to the success of the show due to the high notes in “Climb Every Mountain.” She maintains that this role alone can make or break the show. Hence, in my mind, the casting of Audra McDonald as the Reverend Mother was a win-win from the start. No doubt there.

“Climb Ev’ry Mountain” from “The Sound of Music Live” NBC

Broadway musical to live television:

This particular remake was planned as a live television event on prime time. Those of us who are theatre-lovers are delighted to have any musical or drama on TV, but there is the huge risk today of negative reviews from critics with the professional media, as well as those posting on social media from their living room.

Though I didn’t watch the event live, I did watch the live feed that night and the next morning from Facebook and Twitter commentators. This included my son Joseph who has a degree in the performing arts.

Joseph summed up his overall assessment of the production for me: “Everything was wonderful, especially Audra McDonald, without whom the show would have sunk. Carrie Underwood did not have the acting ability to get through the production. And she seemed incapable of properly singing some of the high notes, so instead of being sung, they seemed to be yelled.”

My take:

So I was able to watch all three hours early today, snuggled with Daisy our pug. I enjoyed the show so much more than I thought I would after reading all the reviews. For a live television event, it was delightful. I was very impressed with the sets, which were gorgeous and fit each scene perfectly. I particularly  loved the inside and outdoor sets at the villa. Beautiful.

Of course, no one can ever replace Julie Andrews and Christopher Plummer. They are master actors. And the 1965 film will always be what comes to mind first when one hears the title “The Sound of Music.” But after tuning in today, I now can say, give this “Live” effort a break….

Carrie Underwood looked adorable and her acting was not nearly as bad as many panned. She, of course, is a gifted singer, and indeed, she sang beautifully. Her camaraderie throughout the show with the kids was endearing. The children were all very talented, and I really enjoyed their musical numbers and their dancing.

Stephen Moyer’s portrayal of the Captain, though,  was distracting to me, as he looked and acted far too young for the role. The same happened, to a lesser degree, for Laura Benanti who was cast as Baroness Elsa Schrader. But Benanti is a huge talent with a lovely voice and some great acting skills. It was often fun to just watch her facial expressions. They were spot on. She is perfect for musical theatre.

As it happens, my son Joseph and I saw Laura Benanti in 1998 on the Broadway stage in the revival of “The Sound of Music” at the Martin Beck Theatre. It was her Broadway debut. She was understudy to Rebecca Luker’s Maria, and was just 19 years old when she took over that lead role when Luker left the production. Talk about a grand promotion… Laura has natural talent for the stage.

Sadly, I just learned that Eleanor Parker, who played Baroness Schrader in the 1965 film died today in Palm Springs, California from complications from pneumonia. She was 91. Rest in peace.

Getting teary:

I knew that this production was not only enjoyable, but also touching when I found myself tearing up at all the big moments: The singing of the nuns’ choir, the scene where Maria and the Captain danced before she fled back to the monastery, then when she cried with Mother Abbess about facing her future and dreams while making certain to “Climb Every Mountain,” and the beautiful wedding with the nuns’ serenade. The singing of “Edelweiss” at  the music festival found the tears actually running down my face. The emotional factor was definitely there.


 

“Edelweiss” from “The Sound of Music Live” NBC 

The critical reviews:

I love a great musical, and this production had lots of good points in spite of the bad reviews from theatre critics, professional and amateur. I read quite a few of the reviews and many were highly critical of Carrie Underwood’s acting skills. I wish there was more praise instead for NBC’s efforts to bring live theatre to homes and families.

On Twitter:

When the show ended, Carrie Underwood tweeted at 11:43 p.m.: “Glory to God tonight…I couldn’t be more proud. What a tough thing to pull off and we did it! I am so blessed!!!” @carrieunderwood

But it seems that Carrie was unnerved by all the critical feedback the next day. She tweeted on Friday evening at 8:06: “Plain and simple: Mean people need Jesus. They will be in my prayers tonight… 1 Peter 2:1-25” @carrieunderwood

Underwood fans were quick to respond with their praise and good wishes via Twitter hash #WeLoveYouCarrie:
Perhaps the affirmation of her fans will lift Carrie Underwood’s spirits just as “The Sound of Music Live” brought joy to the hearts of millions of theatre lovers in the comfort of their homes.

Tuesday’s forecast: 

Who knows? Maybe tomorrow will be another snow day… I sure hope so.

 

Catholic Review

Catholic Review

The Catholic Review is the official publication of the Archdiocese of Baltimore.