The final scenes had real power, and by the end, I felt that Carrie Underwood was the ideal choice. I don't know whether she's a subtle actress, but her very sincerity fit the role well. The first singing of "Climb Every Mountain" demonstrated this especially effectively. It seemed that Underwood herself was moved to tears by Audra McDonald's singing, and her honest reaction was exactly what Maria should have conveyed. During the rest of that last section, Underwood's straightforwardness was the right contrast to the more worldly Frau Schraeder.
I think that the emphasis on the political situation at the end was just right, and I have to say that even though I knew the outcome (both in the production and in historical reality), I was on pins and needles. I missed seeing this section the first time the show was telecast, so I got the full impact of it tonight.