Dr. Vanessa Theme Ament

Opening Salvo For Mad About Musicals Course

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This question was so difficult for me to answer because really there's just so many musicals that I love!  However, I always find myself so entertained by the musical Gigi!  I love Leslie Caron so much and her funny spunky ways as a young Gigi in the film makes everything comical and light, despite what life she is going to lead if her aunt and grandmother have their way!  The costumes and settings are beautiful and the songs are catchy and really move the film along.  

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1 hour ago, Barb H said:

It might be easier to ask if there is one I don't care for than to pick a favorite but I would have to say "Kiss Me Kate" is at the top of the list.  I never tire of the music, the dance numbers, the sets, the great cast, and the humor.  And "Unsinkable Molly Brown" comes in at a close second.  Harve Presnell had a glorious voice.    

When I was a kid, my mom took me to see "Kiss Me, Kate!" in 3-D. The joy and energy from just viewing what  came through the screen -- the rhythms, the wit, the colors, everything -- made a big impression.

 

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I love a musical that transports me back to the era in which it was made. Footlight Parade is a perfect 1930s musical to me: backstage vibe, great dialogue, and SO "of the period." Plus James Cagney showing the cast how to dance like a cat is one of the best moments in movie musical history, IMHO. Others: Anything with Grable from the 1940s - she just exemplifies the WWII technicolor, girl-you're-fighting-for image. Meet Me in St. Louis is just beautifully done. and knowing that it was Minelli's love letter to Garland just makes is more fun to watch. And now I'll stop and read everyone else's picks!

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The American musicals not only played a major role for the American psyche during its most difficult socioeconomic times but it also became an ambassador for American culture. I think one could go and visit Kathmandu and some one in there would know the song “ I am yankee Doodle dandy”

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Like so many others here, I don't think I can choose a favourite musical.  I watch The Sound of Music at least once a year, but that is not necessarily because it is my absolute favourite - just that it is shown on TV a lot, especially at Christmastime.  I fell in love with Maurice Chevalier in Gigi when I was seven, love South Pacific and Oklahoma and Carousel.  Has anyone mentioned Damn Yankees?  I love "You Gotta Have Heart" from that one.  My Mum's influence leads me to love anything with Doris Day in it, but especially Calamity Jane, On Moonlight Bay...  Like I said, I can't choose.

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Funny Girl has always been my go to movie musical! Babs is absolutely stunning and moving and just pulls on your heart strings throughout the entire movie. No one does Fanny Brice better! I can't help but sing to every single song when I watch this movie - my friends and family always get mad at me when I do haha. I try to get them to sing along haha.

Also #2 go to has to be Anchors Aweigh! The aloofness of Sinatra and Kelly's headstrong yet sensitive personality make a perfect pair in this movie! My favorite scenes have to be when they're dancing on the beds and Sinatra's solo performance "I Fall In Love Too Easily" - that songs just solidifies my love for him! 

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I think the way things are expressed in musicals -- from melody and rhythm to orchestration, to set design and costuming, through to the very performances and the way this communicates and connects -- are why the genre is so special. The best are timeless, regardless of the era when the story takes place... and the memory lingers on, with visual images stuck in your mind as well.

Growing up, I was taken to a reissuing of "Singin' in the Rain" in the mid-1970s -- incredible.

Then, the modernized version of "Good News" -- Comden and Green's first film - was also full of color, high energy, great songs, wit, and incredible vocalese. Number after number, hit after hit, so creative.

The That's Entertainment series (I & III, esp) flies by with every viewing because it's so incredible to watch, hear, and process such spectacle, innovation, and sheer use of TALENT -- in front and behind the camera.

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I have loved Busby Berkeley since I was a kid. Footlight Parade with James Cagney is my all time favorite. I have a soft spot for dancing tough guys!

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I would say I love watching and just enjoying over and over again Fiddler on the Roof. The emotion they give in every song they sing as they tell how they feel, life around them ( Especially the scene where in the village they were just singing how everyday life in the morning is like) and how they are going through the struggles of that time period and how they are trying to cope with it

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Singin In The Rain just because itis so fun and visually appealling.  Yankee Doodle Dandy because Cagney is amazing, Cohan's songs are appealling and it leaves me feeing so patriotic.  All of the Busby Berkley musicals of the 1930's because of the visual appeal of the amazing choreography and because the historical context of cheering up an audiance living through the Great Depression makes them even more interesting.

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2 hours ago, Chattie said:

It would be like picking my favorite child to pick my favorite musical. My friends and familiy have never been into musicals so I’ve made it my job to teach the young ones coming up. I have a special niece who loves them as much as I do because of the many times I babysat and put a musical on. We go to all the  touring broadway shows and I make sure we see the revivals of old shows that we saw on tv when available. I’m so excited to see them all but for dancing alone will pick seven brides for seven brothers.

I too really love them all and am thrilled that my children enjoy watching with me.  We too enjoy Broadway productions - whether in NYC or the touring shows. I am an Astaire Rogers lover, and am always thrilled to see the "lost art" of tap dancing performed in more modern productions. And then there's the beauty of Technicolor, which cannot be overlooked - it creates such visually breathtaking moments! For all that, if I had to pick just one, it would also be Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, which I seem to go back to again and again.  Sending huge thanks to Dr Ament for this course - I'm really excited about adding some knowledge to this enjoyable hobby of mine. 

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It's hard to choose, but South Pacific I think is at the top of my list.  Of course there is beautiful music and dance.  And I confess to a deep fondness for anything tropical.  But also because it addressed racism in ways that were astounding given the era in which it was made.  It didn't always succeed completely and there were some stereotypical characters but it tried to take a serious look at a societal problem within a genre you might not expect.  

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2 hours ago, silentme said:

 Jesus Christ Superstar is also another favorite. The passion the actors express in their singing is amazing. It's also a modern and controversial interpretation that does a wonderful job in telling the story of Christ at a time when I think people were beginning to question their faith. 

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JCS is another of my favorites.  And that's a great observation about the time period in which it was produced.  I remember how controversial just the mere idea of it was when it came out.  I was in Catholic school and it had been condemned.  After it became popular, our parish music director introduced the concept of a "guitar mass" and the older more traditional people went insane about how disrespectful that was. 

I've always loved how JCS takes the point of view of Judas, who is one of the most maligned figures in the bible and shows him to really have had at his core, Jesus' best interests at heart.  It was a real eye-opener for me.

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Whenever I want to re-watch a movie, it's almost always a musical that I'm first drawn to. Musicals make me ecstatic to be alive, which is great news for me since I suffer from chronic depression. Their bright colors, their childlike optimism, their charming leads, their toe-tapping rhythms, their outrageously delightful stories.... what else can't a musical bring to the table!?! A great musical always brings a smile to my face! 

Since I now have little nieces and nephews, I'll be throwing on a lot of musicals for them to watch/hopefully enjoy. This means that I'll be given another chance to revisit some old favorites: Love Me Tonight (1932), Footlight Parade (1933), Gold Diggers Of 1933 (1933), The Wizard Of Oz (1939), Meet Me In St. Louis (1944), On The Town (1949), Hans Christian Andersen (1952), Singin' In The Rain (1952), Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1953), The Band Wagon (1953), Seven Brides For Seven Brothers (1954), Artists And Models (1955), The Sound Of Music (1965), Yellow Submarine (1968), Donkey Skin (1970), and Willy Wonka And The Chocolate Factory (1971). 

If I could only choose one film out of that list, I'd eagerly pick The Wizard Of Oz as not only my all-time favorite musical, but also as my all-time favorite film! I just love everything about it ever since I first saw it as a youngster, and I have watched it a million times since then. It's just a perfect masterpiece that fits every mood I'm in. If I want to snark like a teenager, there it is. If I want to be carried away into a fantasy land, there it is. If I want to be reminded of reality, there it is. I just love it so much that I'll probably watch it a million more times! 

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My Fair Lady has been my favorite musical for years. I watch it at least once a month. It's just excellent in every way from the songs and performances to the sets and consumes. I remember watching it when I was quite young and I was just fascinated by every aspect of it. I just have a sentimental fondness for it that has never gone away. Rex Harrison has pretty much always been my favorite actor ever since and his performance in the film almost singlehandedly inspired a love for movies and musicals in me.

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2 hours ago, LRH6 said:

And I love Fred and Eleanor Powell's "Begin the Beguine" number in The Broadway Melody of 1940.  The way her skirt keeps whirling around her after they've finished the dance is pure magic.

 

 

--Lydia

 

All great choices!  Begin the Beguine is, in my opinion, one of the greatest dance numbers ever and some of the greatest black and white photography in any film.  Outside of the Judy Garland segment in That's Entertainment! I think it was the sequence that intrigued and touched me the most.  It sparked my quest to see all those other movies that were featured in the clips.

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Singin' in the Rain and The Music Man.  Just great examples of the genre and filled with humor.  My daughter and I have watched these together so many times we can pretty much act out the entire movies.  (well neither of us can do dance over a couch or run up a wall mid-dance, but we can do the lines and songs anyway). :)

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1 hour ago, Kathie2 said:

I agree with having a hard time picking a favorite musical.  There are so many that I love.  My first musical was "South Pacific"  at age 6, and musicals been an unbreakable habit ever since. That's 59 years ago!  Do the math. :)  

I would say my favorite musical of the moment is "Cabaret."   The main reasons are Miss Liza Minnelli, Joel Gray, Bob Fosse, and of course, the wonderful music. The film is also very dark, which I like.  

Another favorite is "Guys and Dolls".  For the singing, dancing and Mr. Marlon Brando.  Maybe miscast, but I still love the guy.  

One of the more "modern" musicals I love is "Everyone Says I Love You" by Woody Allen.  Just plain fun.  

Thank you so much for this online course.  I am so excited to participate.  

 

 

 

 

More great choices.  I love Cabaret.  It's the first movie I remember going to see.  My parents took us to the drive-in.  I was 7.  Tomorrow Belongs to Me is one of the most chilling moments in any film that I have ever seen.  Very powerful.

And I adore Marlon Brando in Guys and Dolls.  He brings a believability to Sky Masterson that I'm not sure Sinatra could have.  I was lucky enough to see it on the big screen at the Fox Theater here in St. Louis.  When Sky kisses Sarah in the mission you KNOW she's been kissed!

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59 minutes ago, BigSteve64 said:

When I was a kid, my mom took me to see "Kiss Me, Kate!" in 3-D. The joy and energy from just viewing what  came through the screen -- the rhythms, the wit, the colors, everything -- made a big impression.

 

I am SO jealous!  I can just imagine how amazing that must have been!

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Gosh, there are so many wonderful musicals, it's hard to choose. I tend to re-watch West Side Story, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, and Singin' in the Rain a lot, and it seems to be the dancing that draws me to them. 

As for the question of why we love musicals, the reasons are probably as varied as the viewers. Musicals provide great escapism from economic, cultural, and personal realities, of course. But I expect there's also a certain spectacle that pulls us in. The dancing often has not only visual beauty but also an athleticism that, like the Olympics, transfixes us with awe. (I'm thinking, here, of Donald O'Connor in Singin' in the Rain; the athletic brothers in Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, etc.) Couple all that with glorious music and amazing singers, and -- well -- what's not to love? 

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So many musicals to choose from, it is definitely a hard decision to say I have just one because I love re-watching so many!  "The Wizard of Oz" - hands down, is my very favorite, but it is such a classic that, dare I say, it is almost overdone?  It is shown yearly, sometimes multiple times a year, has dozens of remakes, is engrained in our culture, and even immortalized at the Smithsonian.  And truthfully, could you have assembled a better cast?  Timeless.

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19 minutes ago, hmsheehy said:

It's hard to choose, but South Pacific I think is at the top of my list.  Of course there is beautiful music and dance.  And I confess to a deep fondness for anything tropical.  But also because it addressed racism in ways that were astounding given the era in which it was made.  It didn't always succeed completely and there were some stereotypical characters but it tried to take a serious look at a societal problem within a genre you might not expect.  

I know that many people are turned off by the "messages" in some movies, but I find that to be the strongest aspect of Rodgers & Hammerstein.  You've Got to Be Taught has such a powerful message and is delivered with such poignancy.

Hammerstein did the same thing with Show Boat in 1927.  He didn't shy away from some very difficult topics.  My Dad and I have a long-standing tradition of seeing that whenever it is performed here.  The Muny seems to do it every seven to ten years.

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I love musicals.  I prefer the ones that have dancing over the ones that are just singing.  If there aren't any remarkable dance numbers, the songs better be catchy.  I also am not a fan of musicals that contain the operatic style singing.  My ears just cannot take it.  This might be sacrilege in a musicals course, but I'm not the biggest fan of Busby Berkeley's kaleidoscope dance numbers.  One or two here and there are fine, but I find them monotonous after awhile.  With that said, I love Gold Diggers of 1933 because it's such a strange film and pretty racy.  It is pre-code after all.  A lot of people have trouble watching musicals because they cannot suspend their disbelief when people burst into song and dance randomly.  I love Gene Kelly and I love how he was able to so effortlessly blend song and dance into the narrative of the film.  In Singin' in the Rain for example, yes there are multiple song and dance numbers, but they're presented as part of the story.  The songs and dance numbers advance the plot or provide background on the characters.  

The musicals I find myself returning to over and over: Singin' in the Rain, Meet Me in St. Louis, Swing Time, The Gold Diggers of 1933, Born to Dance, An American in Paris, Funny Face, On the Town, Easter Parade, You Were Never Lovelier, White Christmas, Three Little Words, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, Summer Stock, Broadway Melody of 1940, Bye Bye Birdie, Viva Las Vegas, the Beach Party movies, the Esther Williams musicals, The Pajama Game, and so many more.  For modern musicals, my absolute favorite is Moulin Rouge! (2001).  

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Whenever there's a musical on, I watch! Some of my favorites though, are Singin' in the Rain, Kismet, White Christmas, Annie Get Your Gun, and On the Town. 

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18 minutes ago, DiamondFace7060 said:

If I could only choose one film out of that list, I'd eagerly pick The Wizard Of Oz as not only my all-time favorite musical, but also as my all-time favorite film! I just love everything about it ever since I first saw it as a youngster, and I have watched it a million times since then. It's just a perfect masterpiece that fits every mood I'm in. If I want to snark like a teenager, there it is. If I want to be carried away into a fantasy land, there it is. If I want to be reminded of reality, there it is. I just love it so much that I'll probably watch it a million more times! 

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I think of The Wizard of Oz as the gateway drug film. ;) It introduced many people of my generation not only to musicals but to classic films in general.  It was that way for me.  It was my favorite as a child and that's why my parents took me to see That's Entertainment!  I was stunned to see that "Dorothy" had been in so many other movies and I wanted to see them all.

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