| NEW YORK
NEW YORK Dec 3 Despite just a handful of acting
roles to date, country singer and "American Idol" winner Carrie
Underwood was the first choice to play the coveted lead role of
Maria in a new live version of "The Sound of Music" for
Since winning "Idol" in 2005, Underwood, 30, has taken the
country music scene by storm with hits like "Before He Cheats,"
and "Jesus, Take the Wheel," winning six Grammys and more than
100 other music awards. But the singer will take on more than
just singing as she plays the von Trapp's musical governess in
the live NBC broadcast on Thursday.
"She is the right type, the right age, she has the right
vocal quality, she is beautiful and she has massive experience
doing live performing. Carrie is the perfect person to play that
character," co-producer Craig Zadan told Reuters.
Underwood spoke with Reuters ahead of the Dec. 5 broadcast
about taking on a challenge like Maria.
Q: Have you always been a fan of "The Sound of Music?" Is it
something you grew up with?
A: Yes! I can't even tell you first time I saw it. I feel
like it's been around since birth for me. It was part of my
growing up ... anytime it would come on TV, my mom and I would
sit together and cuddle up in the bed and watch it together so
it has a lot of very dear memories for me.
Q: After all these years, what do you think is the show's
A: It really has everything. (Composers Richard Rodgers and
Oscar Hammerstein) really knew what they were doing. You have
the love story, action, suspense - there is a lot more of that
in the stage version than in the movie with all the changes that
are happening in Austria. You also have these unforgettable
songs. That's the thing that sticks with you after you have seen
Q: Despite everything you have done since first winning
"American Idol" in 2005, this must rank as one of the biggest
challenges you have faced. Why did you decide to take it on?
A: It is just so different for me. I have never done
anything quite like this. This is first time anybody has done a
live musical on TV like this in a very long time. People don't
take on this kind of project any more so it's really new for all
of us. I love the fact that it is live. Even with award shows,
it's all smoke and mirrors and this is the opposite of that.
Q: How have you coped with all the dancing, acting and
learning of lines?
A: Memorizing things has been really easy for me. As soon I
started, I had everything ready. I have never had this much to
memorize. All the things I've had to sing (in the past) rhyme
with each other, so if you get the first line you can pretty
well remember what the verse is about. This is very different. I
have never had choreography before. I've never had to worry too
much about where I am on stage. I never really had to worry
about cameras, and where they are. The whole acting challenge
has been just that - a challenge - but I am surrounded by
incredibly talented people and that definitely makes it easier.
Q: I heard you are working with a dialect coach. Which
accent are you being taught?
A: It's really not been about adopting a new dialect. It's
been about losing mine. I am from Oklahoma. I live in Tennessee.
I sing country music. Sometimes words really slip out sounding
like where I am from. After this is all over, I will have to go
back to my hometown and spend some time with my family and get
my accent back ... I am just trying to sound as un-twangy as I
Q: Have you been at all daunted by taking on a role that is
so much associated with Julie Andrews in the 1965 movie?
A: It definitely has been something that has been on my mind
and in my world. I don't think people would be upset if they
went to a Broadway show of "The Sound of Music" (and it was
someone other than Julie Andrews). We are just providing a
different way to see it and fall in love with it. I really hope
people cut us all some slack. I hope people realize that we are
not re-creating the movie. This is not a re-make. I hear that
word and it makes me cringe. The movie does not need to be
re-made. I can't wait to show my kids the movie.
But I really hope people will gain an appreciation for
things that are live, for live singing, for musicals. I would
have just died to be able to see something like this on my TV
growing up because we didn't have any great theatre nearby that
I could go and see live productions. So I think of all the
little me's out there watching on Dec. 5, it will be great for
(Editing by Piya Sinha-Roy and Lisa Shumaker)