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Audra McDonald Joins NBC's 'Sound of Music' Cast - Will Play Mother Abbess

by Tambay A. Obenson
September 16, 2013 5:49 PM
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Tony Award winner and stage veteran Audra McDonald, has been added to the cast of the scheduled December 5 NBC production of The Sound of Music.

McDonald, who has won five Tonys, as well as two Grammy Awards, will portray Mother Abbess in the TV production. She joins Laura Benanti and Christian Borle, who were also recently added to the project's cast.

Carrie Underwood is set to star as Maria, and Stephen Moyer will play Capt. Von Trapp.

McDonald's Mother Abbess is the head of Nonnberg Abbey. She convinces Maria to leave the Abbey and explore life as a governess. She also later convinces Maria to return and face her fears, to see what might come of them (including falling in love with Von Trapp), when she comes back to the Abbey.

Peggy Wood, who played Mother Abbess in the 1965 film, was nominated for both the Academy Award for Best Actress in a Supporting Role and the Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actress—Motion Picture, for her performance.

The three-hour production will be based on the original 1959 Broadway production of The Sound of Music, which starred Mary Martin and Theodore Bikel.

The music and lyrics for The Sound of Music were written by Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein, respectively with a book by Howard Lindsay and Russel Crouse.

The Sound of Music is executive produced by Neil Meron and Craig Zadan. Beth McCarthy-Miller and Rob Ashford will serve as directors. 

The TV presentation will be produced by Universal Television.

Here's a clip from the filmed version of Sound Of Music, featuring the scene in which Mother Abbess convinces Maria to "climb every mountain..." (which includes one song that Audra will likely be singing in the NBC production):

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  • Kool | September 17, 2013 10:06 PMReply

    Carrie Underwood?!?! That's the best that they could do?

  • Roof Pounder | September 17, 2013 4:16 PMReply

    I definitely agree about the questionable casting of Underwood as Maria, but Audra McDonald will most certainly provide much-needed class to the production. This is not the first time McDonald has performed a Rodgers and Hammerstein role previously played exclusively by white actresses. One of her five Tony awards was for playing Carrie Pipperidge in the Broadway revival of Carousel, and she recently recorded the role of Marjorie Taylor in the first complete recording of Allegro. McDonald's resplendent voice and insightful interpretative should make her take on the role and "Climb Every Mountain" well worth tuning in.

  • Mia | September 17, 2013 1:54 PMReply

    oh crap... don't tell me that Underwood chick is the best they could come up with... for that role.. that being said.. I will catch it only because of Audra McDonald..we saw her in Porgy and Bess on a trip to NY.. she's one hell of a singer and one hell of an actress

  • Writer Dot Com | September 17, 2013 11:39 AMReply

    Firstly, SOM is my favorite thing to watch on TV next to Charleton Heston parting the sea. Its classic. Carrie Underwood can sing but she's not right for this role. Believe me.

    She butchered the SNF theme. Like...I'm so not happy about this casting at all but go Audra! She can sang!

  • FactChecker | September 17, 2013 12:56 AMReply

    I would hate to be Carrie Underwood. She's going to be under tremendous scrutiny from EVERYONE trying to live up to the amazing performance the living legend julie andrews gave. I wonder if she'll cut her hair. ...

    Good for Audra, though. Although, she's considerably younger than Mother Abbess. Overall, however, I think it will be difficult for most viewers not to compare all of the cast with the original movie, which, of course, has played zillions of times on TV since it premiered five decades ago.

    It will be interesting to see how younger audiences respond.

  • ALM | September 16, 2013 9:55 PMReply

    Go Audra!

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