The Sound of Music LIVE! aired Thursday on NBC to crazy good numbers. 18.5 million viewers tuned in, having the largest audience a non-sports NBC program has seen since the Fraiser finale in 2004, and a 4.6 in the key demo, the highest non-sports demo rating they’ve had since the ER finale in 2009. Whether or not the critics enjoyed Carrie’s acting or the viewers be annoyed by that weird audio buzzing (Personally, I loved everything about it and preferred it without a live audience, unlike most), those numbers don’t lie…Musical Theater is cool again.
All day at school on Friday, everyone was talking about it and there were some impromptu duets that happened in classrooms and hallways…and I might have been involved with everyone of them…not gonna lie. It brought people into the wonderful world of live theater, which is fantastic.
While watching, I was reminded of ABC’s illustrious “Wonderful World of Disney” on Sunday nights. I vividly remember watching various Disney films on Sunday nights and loving it. ABC also created their own content for these Sunday movie nights. They did many a remake of Broadway musicals and aired them during the block. Musicals like Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Cinderella, Annie (with Audra McDonald, who was also in The Sound of Music LIVE!) and Once Upon A Mattress all saw new versions be brought to the little screen, all of them doing very well in the ratings.
ABC has a lot at their disposal to use, too. They could acquire the rights to do a classic like Annie Get Your Gun or Oklahoma!, yet, they have the benefit of being in the Broadway business, so they could bring one of their own works to the screen, like Aida or Beauty and the Beast.
TV successes usually mean all the networks try to copy the ratings wins. For example, Once Upon A Time’s success brought a lot of fantasy pilots being optioned at all the major networks. This huge win for NBC is pretty much a guarantee that they will green light a new live musical, but it brings up the point…Why not ABC?
They have done very well in the past translating stage adaptations to the small screen, so why not do it again, just in a live environment. If you watched The Sound of Music LIVE!, you may have caught a glimpse of the maid who was featured in many scenes. Her name is Ashley Brown and is Disney Theatricals royalty, starring in 3 of their productions and being the first Mary Poppins on Broadway. Why not bring that musical to the TV with her in the starring role, especially during this mini-Mary Poppins renaissance (Thanks to the 50th anniversary of the film and Saving Mr. Banks). If you want a recognizable name though, I would suggest doing Rodgers & Hammerstein’s South Pacific with Reba in the main role. She has stage experience, acting experience, live TV experience AND experience in the South Pacific role.
I would love to know your thoughts of musical theater coming to ABC in the live format. I think it would greatly help ABC get out of its 4th place position. Let me know in the comments section, as I want to see some great discussions on TV ready musicals and stars! I know leave you with Ashley Brown singing “Feed The Birds”…aka why she should have a large role in a possible ABC live musical.