Monday, March 24, 2014

Movie Review: Sound of Music, Live! with Carrie Underwood – 2013

I’ve been so looking forward to this review! In my enthusiasm, I’ll probably be rambling a little more than usual. ;-)

First off, to clarify. As you probably already know, the producers of this film have emphatically stated that it is not a remake of the classic movie, but a filmed version of the original stage play. Also, the 60’s film version has been part of my own family for longer than I have, so please don’t construe anything I say–regarding casting, for instance–as being a criticism of that version. All right, that proviso out of the way, we will now proceed. 

To begin with, while visiting Idaho a couple years ago, I was given the opportunity to see Sound of Music in person performed on stage. Some cousins invited me to go with them and at first–while being very interested–I was also a little skeptical. I knew, of course, that The Sound of Music was originally a play, but how in the world could they make it work? How could they possibly bring across the grandeur of the mountains and the sweep of the story on a stage? 

Suffice to say, that was before going. When we left I was walking on air. After that I’m afraid my family heard rather a lot about it–indeed, I believe they began to feel themselves over-informed. And when I heard this was coming out, I frankly tried not to think about it–lest expectation ruin delight.

But now we’ll try to get down to some details. There were a few differences from what I’d seen before and following are the fruits of my research.

Changes in Summary 

In addition to the songs–and placement of the songs–that the 1959 play and 1965 film had in common, the original 1959 stage production had the following: 

~ My Favorite Things (Maria and the Mother Abbess) – before Maria leaves the Abbey
~ The Lonely Goatherd (Maria and the children) – during thunderstorm 
~ The Lonely Goatherd: Reprise (Gretl) – skipped (I believe) in later versions 
~ How Can Love Survive (Baroness and Max) – skipped in the 1965 film 
~ No Way to Stop It (Baroness, Max, and the Captain) – skipped in the 1965 film 
~ An Ordinary Couple (the Captain and Maria) – replaced in the 1965 film (see below) 
~ Do-Re-Mi: Reprise (at concert) – same place in the '65 film, but often replaced by The Lonely Goatherd in current stage-productions (including the one I saw) 

Further differences made from the play in the 1965 film: 
~ I Have Confidence (Maria) – written by Saul Chaplin for the film 
~ My Favorite Things (Maria) – shifted to thunderstorm scene instead of The Goatherd 
~ The Lonely Goatherd (Maria and children) – shifted to puppet show 
~ Edelweiss (the Captain and Leisl) – inserted after puppet show 
~ Something Good (the Captain and Maria) – written by Richard Rodgers for the film replacing An Ordinary Couple and now often used in stage productions

The current 2013 televised stage production: 
~ Follows songs and original 1959 placement with the exception of… 
~ Something Good instead of An Ordinary Couple – (per above note) 

The script was pretty much what I remembered from the play I’d seen, so I assume it’s the original.


Every scene is beautiful, and throughout each there is a freshness and energy. The overall effect is a delightful simplicity and vitality, bringing new verve to the story. Everyone seemed to throw themselves into their part–having fun and getting more relaxed as it went on. As a note, there are only two things I don’t like in the entire movie. With Rolf and Leisl’s scene, the dancing part and choreography are fine, but the ending went a bit further than I like–though due to lyrics it’s a scene/song we always skip anyway (along with Something Good). Other than that, the only thing I don’t particularly like is Maria’s wedding dress. 


Minor characters – The nuns, the servants, the Captain’s local friends and enemies, etc. are all good. Rolf in particular is very well done and I especially like how his character development works out.

The Mother Abbess – Is phenomenal. Keen and compelling–tough and yet full of love for those under her charge–she’s amazing. Regarding her singing tone (I’m going to be saying this at least three times over), but it’s gorgeous: smooth, soaring, rich, and clear.

The Baroness – Lovely and elegant, light, polished, and sophisticated, expressive yet calmly controlled–she’s perfect in the part. And she has an absolutely incredible voice! (To be quite honest, her two songs were the ones I originally had a tendency to go on about–and that was before seeing this.)

Max – The above picture just about says it all, but he’s absolutely–positively–perfect. And, like I said, the songs he gets to sing in are two of my favorites.

The Children – Are all seven very good. (I would have liked to have done each one separately here, but that would have been a bit much. There’s a little more below.) 

And now…

Maria – I may have been influenced by having never seen/heard her before, but first and foremost, I will simply state that I really, really liked her. 

~ First: her singing. Having now seen it (three!) times and listened to the soundtrack a zillion (well, maybe twenty) times–I have now made up my mind. She does “belt” a word very occasionally, which at first I wasn’t sure about, but now really like. It has an “improvising-on-the-spot” feel that brings a freshness to the words. I would not describe her voice as “piquant”. At first I thought it would have a childlike tone, but I quickly found not. It can be rich and throaty then suddenly clear and soaring; flexible and expressive with a full range.

~ Second: fitting the part. Age-wise, I think she was perfect–older than Leisl, but much younger than the Captain. Occasionally, you can tell she doesn’t have a lot of acting experience, but I think that actually gives a girlish, ingenuous feel to the part. She sincerely brings across a full range of emotions–creating a transparent, radiant, and artless Maria.

The Captain – Is excellent. He’s intense–grim and severe–but when Maria comes into his life, he begins to glow. I particularly liked how they brought out his relationship with the children. After he opens up to them again–talking with them, being there for them, and giving each one of them what they needed; listening to Brigitta, imparting confidence to Frederic…holding Leisl the way she needed to be held (the scene at the Abbey gets me every time).

The Captain and Maria Together – Were very good: from anger and frustration in the confrontational scenes–to the undercurrents in the dance–and the hesitancy and perplexity when she comes back from the Abbey–all the way through to her helping him in making a big life decision (leaving Austria). The proposal is utterly sweet and satisfying, now ranking as one of my favorites. :-)

The Sets and Colors – Are splendiferous. The sets are amazing–both interiors and exteriors while the colors are unified and vivid. I love the color scheme they went with: greens, fresh blues, corals, mauve, and rose. And–in case it’s not already obvious–the wardrobes are delightful.

This bedroom is–well, let’s just say I like it. :-)


With the use of the original songs and dialogue there are strongly Christian and political tones to the story and some interesting questions are raised. ~ What is it to live by our convictions? Where and what is the line–in both private life and public–beyond which there can be no compromise? What is it to find what you have been called to? The place you have been called to?

We must not live individualistically, but we do live as individually created people. Individual people tied to others. Will we keep our heads low, going with the current flow–or will we take a stand? Taking a stand will almost inevitably bring change–if not at large (the way we would like)–at the very least change for us, the one taking the stand. And that can be scary. But if we don’t stand for what we believe, we’ll be betraying those connected to us. 

Then there’s loyalty. What is loyalty–really? It’s not loyalty if it doesn’t come through when the going gets tough. Where do our loyalties lie? At root, tied to our real convictions, we will always live by them. Are we the center of the universe?

Captain von Trapp sings his love for his country–even when that country has turned her back on him. His children love and trust him–even when he isn’t there for everything they need.

Stepping out to live by what we know to be right, we will always come to a place where we realize our own weakness. We are not sufficient for these things. But as the Abbess ultimately says, “Haven’t you read? ‘I shall lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help. …You will have help, ‘For ye shall go forth with joy and be led forth with peace, and the mountains and the hills shall break forth before you into singing.’” God is our final peace; and His pledged word is firm and sure, holding us fast even when we can’t see it.

Closing Thoughts

The story is sweeping, but it has an everyday-ish-ness to it–a freshness and immediacy. Like I said, I’ve been familiar with the story (and liked it) for as long as I can remember, but until now have never owned it as a big personal favorite. This did it. It’s tingly–a serious story told joyfully–creating the satisfaction and the longing of all good story.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Sunshine Award

This week we’re scheduled for another tag as Natalie (from her delightful blog Raindrops on Roses and Whiskers on Kittens) has tagged me with the Sunshine Award! Thank you, Natalie!

How To Do It:

1. Answer the questions set by your nomination blogger.

2. Nominate as many or as few fellow bloggers as you like.

3. Set questions for your nominees.

1. What would you do on a rainy (but not stormy) day? ~ Speaking from recent practice, pretty much my regular routine–chores, food preparation, working with sisters, some form of writing…

2. Heels or flats? ~ I do particularly like the look of some Mary Jane-ish type shoes with a little heel that I’ve seen, but I generally find flats (that is, shoes with your regular, ordinary heel) most comfortable.

3. Is there any particular music/song that ever gives you chills from the beauty or inspiration of it? ~ Good question! One I find thrilling is a Fantasia on Greensleeves. I’ve heard it a couple times on Pandora, but still have to figure out the exact source.

4. Would you find a mud battle hilariously fun or positively gross? ~ Ummm...well…let’s just say I would be a spectator. :-)

5. Is there anything you feel God has taught you over the past year? ~ During all the changes (and the things that didn’t change), God has granted me great contentment–for which I am most grateful.

6. Favorite sidekick/best friend character from literature? ~ There are so many (particularly as the sidekick is often one of my favorite characters), but I’ll say Master Jeremy Sparrow in Mary Johnston’s To Have and To Hold. He’s solid and funny–and will go thick and thin for those he loves.

7. What do you like to do for exercise? ~ Ballet Beautiful! (It’s an actual exercise program.)

8. A favorite movie/TV show nobody would expect you to like? ~ Hmmmm. Maybe Singing in the Rain? Or Pixar’s Cars? They both have some “hem!” moments (and Singing in the Rain has some parts we skip), but I really like the themes and characterizations/development in both.

9. E-mailing, telephoning, texting, or snail mail? ~ Actually, a little bit of all four. Email, telephone, and letter writing figure prominently–and texting works excellently well for grocery lists!

10. Describe your dream dress. ~ At the moment: white–with some sparkle somewhere–and airy, draping chiffon in the skirt.

11. Favorite Biblical name? ~ David. I’ve liked it since I was little and have been thinking about it a lot lately due to writing On David’s Shoulders. :-)

Thank you again, Natalie! Good questions!!

And my nominees:

Victoria of Hope Writer
Reyna Nicole of A Peace of the Past
Livia Rachelle of Rose Petals and Faerie Dust
Maddie Rose of The Madd Rose
Laura of Gazing Wonders

Here are your questions...and I'm looking forward to hearing all your answers!

1. Do you have a favorite spring color?

2. One of the most riveting books you’ve ever read?

3. A favorite adventure movie?

4. Mexican, Italian, or French cuisine… Do you have a favorite?

5. Do you like shopping for relaxation or would you “infinitely prefer a book”? Or either?

6. Do you like cranberries?

7. Do you enjoy hiking and camping?

8. Working with animals?

9. Do you ever name places? Inspired by favorite literary locations?

10. Do you enjoy dying your hands brown in garden soil? Or do you find worms unsettling?

11. A specific instance of God’s kindness toward you in the past year.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Sunflower Tag

I’ve so enjoyed visiting with Victoria lately (from her lovely blog Hope Writer) and just before the Period Drama Fashions Week she tagged me with the Sunflower award! (Thank you, Victoria!)


1. Share 11 facts about yourself.

2. Answer the questions set by your Nomination Blogger.

3. Nominate 11 bloggers.

4. Set questions for the nominated bloggers.

Facts about myself:
1 – I love to dance! I used to take lessons and I still love doing ballet at home. I also did Irish step dance for a while.

2 – I grew up on the American West Coast–in the region of giant mountains and soaring fir trees–and for many years in a little yellow house with a lake just opposite.

3 – I’m working on my third book/second complete novel, On David’s Shoulders.

4 – I’m the eldest daughter (and oldest child) in my family.

5 – This is a rather wild fact, but when we (very occasionally) have root beer my favorite way to drink it is mixed with milk.

6 – I enjoy piecing new block patterns for table runners, baby blankets, and quilt tops.

7 – Two favorite memories are reading S&S and P&P for the first time while rocking one baby sister, and–during the summer before and the time immediately following another sister’s birth (while on a hike in the mountain wilds, and then later while baby holding again), reading both Les Mis and Count of Monte Cristo–those two monumentally sized French books.

8 – I enjoy playing the piano: particular favorites at the moment being a Sonatina by Clementi and theme songs from the ’95 P&P.

9 – I wear skirts and blouses most of the time and am branching into wearing dresses again. I do own long sleeve tops, but much prefer wearing short sleeves year round, paired with zip-up sweatshirts when absolutely necessary. :-)

10 – I love dahlias (particularly the “cactus” varieties). And I love elephants, giraffes, ladybugs, and butterflies.

11 – Growing up (and living where we did), I was blessed every summer to be able to help pick several hundred pounds of berries–strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, and raspberries–before processing, freezing, and enjoying!

What time period would you travel back to if you had the chance? Why? ~ Oh, dear…this would be a toss-up. I love the Regency period in England, but at the moment I would probably say the 1830’s/40’s (again in England)–an era of discovery and broadening horizons, but with still closely-knit community life.

Is there a book that you’ve read at least five times from beginning to end? ~ (Hem!) I tend to visit favorite book friends/scenes regularly, but–I’m afraid–sadly out of order. Two that spring to mind at the moment, though (that I’ve read backwards and forwards) are Wodehouse’s The Code of the Woosters and The Flying Inn by G.K. Chesterton. And–oh, wait. I’m pretty sure I’ve been through C.S. Lewis’s The Horse and His Boy at least five times (to myself and with others).

Has the Lord done anything recently in your life that has strengthened your faith in Him? ~ Due to various circumstances, I’ve recently been brought again to the realization that (as a young woman in her mid-twenties striving to discern His will) I’m exactly where He wants me to be. He’s granted me renewed assurance in where I live (and how much I love it!), in who and what He has made me to be, and a further reassurance that He holds my future in His hands. I’ve found again that He’s always there–ready–and His love is boundless.

What is your favorite family tradition? ~ This is kind of a “family atmosphere” sort of thing, but I think it could fall under the heading of a tradition as well. Since I was little (and before, in fact) my father has (with a few exceptions here and there) read aloud every evening to the entire family: all the way back to The Borrowers and Betsy-Tacy and the Little House books–and then to Henty’s and Sutcliff’s and Narnia and Lord of the Rings (multiple times). He’s been doing it for over a quarter of a century now!

If you could learn to do anything, what would it be? ~ Growing and maintaining a beautiful English-style country cottage garden.

What has been your favorite movie this year? This can be in theaters or just from your own personal home viewing. ~ Sound of Music, Live! Hopefully I’ll have a review coming in the near future, but I’ve seen it twice now and absolutely loved it!

Thank you again, Victoria!! This was a lot of fun!

And I’m making five nominations:
Mary Elizabeth at A Gaither Girl's Perspective
Sarah Rega at Spiritually Healthy
Emma Jane at For the Beauty of the Earth
Rose P. at The Best of Classics
Ruby Danderfluff at We'll See How This Goes

I've been enjoying all your blogs and am looking forward to hearing your answers! Here are your questions:

Do you have a favorite fairytale? If so: what is it and why?

What are your thoughts on coffee? Tea?

Is there a good movie you’ve watched multiple times in the past year?

What was/is your favorite children’s picture book?

If you were given the opportunity, would you rather travel to Hawaii or Australia? Why?

What is a particular, specific way God has blessed you in the last week?

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Tag for Period Drama Fashion Week

Here are my tag answers for the fun Period Drama Fashion Week Emma Jane is hosting!

Tell us five random things about yourself.
For fun, I thought I would make this five random fashion points:
~ I own a large petticoat, but I’ve never worn a hoopskirt
~ I’m sewing my first Regency dress
~ I love fans (Spanish and Oriental)
~ I would like to expand my closet into things like…

                             this...                           ~and this

2. What are some of your favorite dresses from period dramas? Pick three.

The Dashwood sisters matching; Lizzie's white with sheer and lace edging;
Emma's blue

3. How would you describe your own style?
Practical, (generally) ladylike, and still under development. My latest discovery has been scarves. I particularly like them with lace or a little bit of sparkle.

4. List (up to) five of your favorite period drama wardrobes.
Lizzie (in the ’95), Margaret Hale (in both versions, in fact), Molly, Cynthia, and Victoria. (I’ll scatter the pictures for them throughout the rest of the post.)

5. What are some of your favorite fashion eras?
Regency England and pretty much every decade in the 1800’s; turn-of-the-century/Edwardian (that’s been a long-time favorite); and some of the 1940’s.

6. What are five things that make you happy?

Flowers (particularly roses, peonies, and sweet peas), good books, coffee, long phone conversations, and writing!

7. Do you like to wear hats?
I like them, but I’m challenged to find one that looks right on me, so I don’t often.

8. Do you have a favorite fictional character who has the same name as you?
Yes! Heidi of the mountains.

9. What is one of the ugliest dresses you've ever seen in a period drama?
I heartily concur with Emma Jane’s selection of Fanny Thornton’s dinner dress, but–since it’s already been chosen–I’ll go with another one: Beth’s red and gold in The Gift of Love. (It’s supposed to be overdone. :-) )

10. What is the most-worn color in your wardrobe?

11. What are your sentiments on the subject of tea?

It’s delightful–especially herbal, red (rooibos), and chai.

12. Do historical inaccuracies bother you?
It depends if they’re blatant and seem to spring from a lack of research, or if they chose to adjust an established fact to achieve a larger point.

13. What are some of your favorite eras of men's fashions? 
The Regency period, 1800’s England, and the American West.

14. Have you ever read any books on historical fashion? 
Yes. I can’t locate the titles at the moment, but they were some fascinating photographically illustrated guides for collectors.

15. If you could pick just three fictional characters to have over for tea, who would you invite?
At the moment: Meg (from Little Women), Margaret Hale, and Dorrie in B.J. Chute’s Greenwillow.

Thank you so much, Emma Jane! This was a lot of fun!

Monday, March 3, 2014

Fun for the Period Drama Fashion Week!

I'm thrilled to participate in the Period Drama Fashion Week over at Emma Jane's lovely blog For the Beauty of the Earth! I was thinking of all the different fun fashion options I could do-a collection of all my favorite dresses (but that verged on being a a monumental task), a gallery of my favorite hairstyles (also a monumental task)-and then it struck me! How about a fun selection showing all the everyday things period dress can take in stride while remaining perfectly feminine? Without more ado (along with the regular needlepoint, picnics, balls, etc.), period dress can be found...

Weeding the garden

Serving immigrants

Ministering to the deserving poor

Working in the kitchen

Beating rugs

Doing child care and farm chores along 
with...yes, you get the rest of the idea

Raking and sweeping about the house

Putting in hours on laundry


And, of course,
chasing obstinate cows

(Btw, I'm always amazed they actually did that to
Diana's dress. Can you imagine the cleaning job?? :-) )

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