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FLASH SPECIAL: THE SOUND OF MUSIC Character Cards Series - Laura Benanti

Today we are concluding our Flash Special series by focusing a spotlight on another star of the new NBC live TV presentation of Rodgers & Hammerstein's classic musical THE SOUND OF MUSIC, Laura Benanti.

Our Arms Around Each Other

The role of Baroness Elsa Schraeder in THE SOUND OF MUSIC is perhaps the most tricky to play of all - lest we forget, Maria (Carrie Underwood) ends up getting the man at the center of the story, Captain Von Trapp (Stephen Moyer). Yet, a dynamic being explored more explicitly in this live TV production than ever before is the idea of Elsa providing a worthwhile and even enticing alternative, as opposed to the more cold and sterile way in which the relationship and the interactions between the romantic figures has often been played up until this point - potentially never more fully realized than in the emotionally accessible demeanor and exceptional dramatic and musical skills afforded to the character by Tony Award-winning triple-threat Laura Benanti. Needless to say, Elsa is wrongly assumed by many to be the villain of the piece - at least until the Nazis arrive, that is - by her sheer threatening presence, so a likable stage and screen star like Ms. Benanti giving her take on it will go a long way in bringing her more amenability, to say the very least. But, in the end, Elsa is a threat to the relationship of Maria and Captain Von Trapp - and so what must be, must be. Nevertheless, the character herself is complex and compelling in her own right, especially as musically realized byway of two tunes not featured in the famous film but set to be showcased in this new live TV event.

The relationship between Elsa and Captain Von Trapp, as well as that of Elsa and her mutual friend with Captain Von Trapp, Max (Christian Borle), is more fully-fleshed out in this faithful adaptation of the original stage musical, highlighted by not only the rollicking, darkly-shaded "No Way To Stop It" trio with Captain Von Trapp, but also the caustically comic duet "How Can Love Survive?", shared by Elsa and Max.

Benanti herself spoke to me in a recent InDepth InterView UpDate all about THE SOUND OF MUSIC and had this to reveal about the character of Elsa and her intention of bringing her more warmth and humanity, "I think the show is designed so that you sort of root against her and for Maria, but the thing that I like about the stage production in particular is that the character of Elsa gets fleshed out a little bit more. She's more of a complete human being. So, one of the things we have talked about with this version that we are doing is not playing her like a villain - we're playing her like a person."

Of note, this new version of THE SOUND OF MUSIC will be a faithful adaptation of the original stage musical by Rodgers & Hammerstein along with bookwriters Howard Lindsay and Russel Crouse, retelling the historically-based story for a whole new generation. Furthermore, it will be broadcast live, thereby instantly adding an enticing new level of immediacy and excitement to the proceedings. Get ready to reintroduce your family to the most joyful, most emotional and most musical family adventure of them all!

THE SOUND OF MUSIC airs Thursday, December 5th at 8/7c, only on NBC. For more information on NBC's live presentation of THE SOUND OF MUSIC, visit the official site here.

How Can Love Survive?

So, now, let's take a look at a few of Laura Benanti's finest musical theatre-related moments and preview her in this week's live presentation of THE SOUND OF MUSIC.

First up, here is Laura Benanti discussing the finer points of the character of Elsa and explaining how she is preparing for the unprecedented THE SOUND OF MUSIC live TV event.

Sample Laura Benanti giving voice to "So Many People" at SONDHEIM! The Birthday Concert in 2010.

See Laura Benanti take home the 2008 Tony Award for Best Featured Actress In A Musical for GYPSY.

Now, here is the very first teaser trailer for THE SOUND OF MUSIC on NBC.

Next, check out this extensive look behind the scenes at rehearsals for THE SOUND OF MUSIC.

Lastly, enjoy this new featurette focusing on the music in THE SOUND OF MUSIC.

So, what in particular about Laura Benanti's performance in THE SOUND OF MUSIC are you looking forward to most of all? Is it the chance to hear her take on two lesser-known Rodgers & Hammerstein gems? Is it to sample her sure-to-be palpable rapport with Stephen Moyer and fellow Broadway baby Christian Borle? Perhaps, is it to see how she makes the character of Elsa all her own in a unique way? Whatever it is, THE SOUND OF MUSIC is unquestionably the must-see movie musical event of the year!

With Christian Borle as Max and Laura Benanti as Elsa, the supporting duo to Maria and Captain Von Trapp is - to turn a phrase on the cut song, "An Ordinary Couple" - truly extraordinary. A toast to them!

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