Carrie Underwood is slated to portray Maria von Trapp in a live NBC broadcast of "The Sound of Music" this coming holiday season. This is a new venture for the singer, who has stayed mostly with music since winning Season 4 of "American Idol." Her only acting credentials so far are her small role in the movie "Soul Surfer," along with the various characters she has played in her many music videos.

"The whole experience will be amazing," Carrie says, her voice exuding excitement. "I love the movie, and I've always loved musicals. I have a huge respect for people singing live, genuinely talented people getting up and presenting themselves to the world.

"Marrying all that stuff -- being on TV, a live event and a musical -- bring things to a new generation and lets people really get an appreciation for big events like that and live music. I'm excited to be part of one of the greatest musicals of all time.

This particular production of "The Sound of Music" will be based on the original Broadway musical, and will be a three-hour live event that producers hope will offer a fresh take on the 1959 stage play combined with the "spontaneity" of a live performance. Performers will sing live with no allowances for lip-synching to recordings.

The original Broadway production, with music by Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II, starred Mary Martin and Theodore Bikel. It opened on November 16, 1959, and has since been recreated time and again on Broadway, through touring companies and in local productions. It is based on a true story from pre-World War II Austria, when a nun, Maria von Trapp, leaves the abbey to take care of widower Captain von Trapp's seven children, who all prove to be talented singers.

Julie Andrews portrayed the role of Maria in the 1965 movie version of the story, which co-starred Christopher Plummer. Among the songs from the musical are "Edelweiss," "My Favorite Things," "Climb Ev'ry Mountain," "Do-Re-Mi" and the title song. It was the last musical written by the famous duo, as Hammerstein died nine months after the show opened on Broadway.

Carrie says she would love to meet Julie Andrews, because she grew up listening to her. "I think the most important thing is to not try to copy her. We are doing the musical, not the movie version, so I think it would be important to not go the route of Julie Andrews. It's more important to me to read the script and get into the musical space and not the movie space of the production."

Carrie says she does not know who else will be starring in the musical with her, but says, "My mom wants to be a nun. She said she doesn't have to say anything, she just wants to be in it."

Before Carrie begins rehearsing for the live event, she continues her "Blown Away" tour this weekend, traveling to Las Vegas on March 2 and Ontario, Calif. on March 3.