Dr. Vanessa Theme Ament

Opening Salvo For Mad About Musicals Course

578 posts in this topic

My favorite musical has always been Singin' in the Rain.  When my granddaughter was still in diapers, I sang the "Moses supposes" number to her and her toes.  Since I couldn't remember all of the song, I turned on the DVD of the movie.  She was hooked!  She imitated all the dances.  Two years later my grandson was born.  He is now the one enthralled with the singing and dancing and requests the movie over and over again.  Needless to say, I have the movies memorized!  I am happy to be passing on my love of muscials to another generation.  

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Wow! A great thread! 

 

I find myself rewatching Singin' in the Rain often. I just read a book all about the making of the film. It's titled, "Singin' in the Rain: The Making of an American Masterpiece"
If you're looking for a fun summer read, I highly recommend. 

Other favorites include: Everyone Says I Love You (1996), Funny Girl (1968), Summer Stock (1950), Camp (2003), Meet Me in St. Louis (1944), Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1953).

I'm not sure if this counts, but I love Waiting For Guffman (1996). I can quote it backwards and forwards. I work in musical theater often and it just makes me laugh out loud, every time. And for the sheer camp-factor - Xanadu (1980). I can't resist the lasers, leg warmers, and the roller skating. 

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Who can forget Liza Minnelli’s performance in ‘Cabaret ‘?!  She was at her best, the whole cast was phenomenal.  The choreography was so ‘seventies’!!  

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I discovered Little Shop of Horrors when I was in 7th grade and it is, far and away, the most watched musical in my canon of films. I love acting and my dream role since then has been Seymour, and I often find myself singing Little Shop songs in the shower and at karaoke. It's my favorite!

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I'm obsessed with basically any musical I see, both on stage and screen. But some of my absolute and most cherished favorites in the classic category are: The Wizard of Oz, The King and I, The Happiest Millionaire, and Mary Poppins. My modern favorites are: La La Land, Les Miserables, Phantom of the Opera, and the most recent Beauty and the Beast film adaption. Each of these have a strong commonality - excellent storytelling and artistry. And I think this is the most appealing part of musicals for me personally. Although non-musical films can certainly achieve the spectacle musical motion pictures offer, there's something much more engaging and magical about a film set to song. Not only are you immersed in the breathtaking Technicolor of Oz, you HEAR it too. Judy Garland's velvet voice carries you up over the rainbow more beautifully than even the yellow brick road can, and this has always been the aspect of musicals I love most. When I'm cleaning the house or running errands or taking a long drive, I'll find myself humming my favorite musicals to myself. Suddenly I'm on Cherry Tree Lane with Mary Poppins or dancing with Ryan Gosling in the City of Stars, swept away from the monotony of every-day life. Music, dancing, and singing add such a beautiful, participative nature to films that allow the stories to stay with you much longer and more powerfully than a non-musical film does, which is why the musical is my favorite genre of film and theatre. So needless to say I'm beyond ecstatic for this course! I'm beginning to pursue my Masters in Theatre in the fall, and I think this is the perfect way to spend part of my summer preparing for it! I can't wait to learn more about the impact musicals have had on all of my fellow students as well, and I'm excited to see just how much they've impacted Hollywood and American culture too!

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I don't even know where to start. From my childhood, musicals have always been my "thing". I think among my favorites are: Singing in the Rain, Showboat, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, Paint Your Wagon, Sweet Charity, Sweeney Todd, Pippin...and on and on. I enjoy the ones that tackle social issues. As a performer myself, I thrive on making people think without them realizing it because they are so entertained. And, of course, the music. If I hear a song that speaks to me before I've seen the show, I will go see it. By the way...I highly recommend "A New Brain" if you haven't already seen it (I enjoy live theatre more than televised, but do both). 

Side question: How is everyone enjoying all the new "live" musicals that are coming out now? Just curious about other people's feelings on them.

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There are a lot of musicals both from the stage and the screen that I can never stop coming back to, but my favorite is Disney's 30th animated feature film, "Beauty and the Beast." It's just a complete master work, especially given that it was made in half the time it normally takes to produce an animated film with very little faith from the studio executives. It's an exercise in the kind of simplicity that is often lacking in modern films (including the embarrassingly lazy 2017 remake). Also unlike most modern film musicals, there was no focus on casting bankable stars with questionable musical talent in as many roles as possible in order to get people into the theater (still looking at you, 2017 remake). Instead they brought in the highest caliber of talent from the stage. Paige O'Hara, Angela Lansbury, Jerry Orbach, Richard White, Rex Everheart, Jesse Corti, and Jo Anne Worley are all wonderful and it shines through in the passion they all had for their respective roles. It's also more complex and interesting than its 85 minute run time suggests. It's not just a story of how empathy, kindness, and forgiveness can both metaphorically and literally change people, it also has other themes that often get overlooked. How wider society looks down upon anyone who dares to think or act outside of the narrow social roles set out for them, how people don't recognize or reward kindness and empathy, and the fear of people and things we don't understand. Of course the music is also wonderful and always serves a purpose in advancing the story and developing the characters, the animation is gorgeous, and the work in character design is top notch. Beauty and the Beast is just one of those movies where every element works perfectly because of the passion that every member of the creative team had.

I also adore West Side Story, Singin' in the Rain, The King and I, The Last Five Years, Into the Woods, Moulin Rouge!, Little Shop of Horrors, My Fair Lady, and Hello Dolly as far as film musicals go. Sweeney Todd is one of my favorite stage shows but I was incredibl disappointed by its film adaptation.

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    For me it is Fred and Ginger. The way they move is so gracefull. Her dresses swirled around her, made her appear to almost float and he always looked so in love. 

     I’ve been reading the other comments and there are so many musicals I forgot about or didn’t really think of as musicals. I have a feeling that by the end of this course my movie want list is going to be much longer!

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2 minutes ago, JNetting said:

Side question: How is everyone enjoying all the new "live" musicals that are coming out now? Just curious about other people's feelings on them

I'm personally not a fan of them. I love the idea of them, but the consistent pattern of casting big names over people with actual musical talent and the ability to perform live is the biggest problem, especially since most of them do feature actual Broadway stars who make the famous leads look even worse by comparison. Hairspray Live was probably the best of the bunch but still suffered from a few bad casting decisions (mostly Garrett Clayton and Ariana Grande) and technical issues with the sound and lighting.

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6 hours ago, Lisajl said:

I am 55 and love the musicals.  The ones that always draw me back are Singin in the Rain, Seven Brides for seven Brothers and yes---42nd street!  

These movies are timeless to me.  

Yes... 42'nd Street!  And I'm absolutely blown away by the number of people who have mentioned 'Seven Brides for Seven Brothers' as one of their favorites!  Why haven't I seen it yet?

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I can watch almost any musical repeatedly as there is always some nuance or detail I haven't noticed before.  Each viewing brings its own pleasure. Perhaps a lyric that I hear differently, or a bit of choreography that catches my attention.   At the top of my all time list is the Wizard of Oz.  It's been a while since I've watched...perhaps a year or two, so I'm thrilled it's on our recommended list for the first week.  It had been on watch again soon list. 

Lately I have been paying a lot of attention to set design in my TV and film viewing, especially interiors.  I like to see what's in a room, what's on a table, how is the furniture placed, etc.  With this next viewing I expect my mind may take me there. It will be fun to notice how the dancers navigate the set, how things are used in the story, or maybe not used.  How it all comes together to create the magical whole.

Oh, and I expect that I will try and notice the "Foley" art now, too.  I feel like I should have know this term...but it was new to me.  Foley Grail...ah...I get it now.  Ha!  Off to get the book.  

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1 minute ago, Joshua Goodstein said:

I'm personally not a fan of them. I love the idea of them, but the consistent pattern of casting big names over people with actual musical talent and the ability to perform live is the biggest problem, especially since most of them do feature actual Broadway stars who make the famous leads look even worse by comparison. Hairspray Live was probably the best of the bunch but still suffered from a few bad casting decisions (mostly Garrett Clayton and Ariana Grande) and technical issues with the sound and lighting.

I am so glad I am not the only one who hasn't been thrilled with them. I did enjoy Hairspray and hoped they were on to a good thing, but I was underwhelmed with Grease. The Wiz was okay. I get why they choose the big names...to bring in ratings...and I like that they create an admiration for musicals among those who may not necessarily enjoy them, but I do wish they would use better talent for sure.

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6 hours ago, Suzanne1228 said:

I've been a lifelong film student and my first love was the musical.  My parents took me to see That's Entertainment! when I was 8 and from that point on, I couldn't get enough. 

I think the reason that musicals speak to me is the joy of putting music in all situations.  Life would seem less dreary sometimes if it had a beautiful orchestral soundtrack.  Most musicls are positive and have happy endings.  Everything is resolved and everyone is happy at the end.  Real life doesn't provide that so it's a nice escape.

I never tire of Fred Astaire.  I will revisit any of his films.  He is so smooth.  I love Judy Garland's vulnerability.  She can tear your heart out with her eyes and her voice. 

I'm not sure I can narrow down any one, or even ten musicals that I come back to.  Certainly, The Band Wagon (1953), The Pirate (1948), Meet Me in St. Louis (1944), Good News (1947), Two Girls and a Sailor (1944), and Guys and Dolls (1955)

I love them all.

 

Suzanne, Guys and Dolls (1955) is my favorite musical because of Marlon Brando's performance. He sings and it makes people wonder if it's really him! Great choice!

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Wow.. start with a hard one! Haha. It's so hard to pick favorites. I love so many of them for different reasons. My two go-to's though are High Society and Singin in the Rain. Both have such great musical numbers and they are both funny. Sinatra and Crosby singing together in HS is one of my all-time favorite numbers. Those two singing together is awesome. Grace Kelly is also great in this movie and it's such a shame that it was her last. Then SITR has the incomparable Gene Kelly and that number with him in the rain. There's nothing like it. 

I've been a musical fan since I was a child. My dad brought home Singin in the Rain when I was home sick and I just got hooked. I branched out from there and fell in love with more and more of them. So excited for this course! 

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2 hours ago, Suzanne1228 said:

  When Sky kisses Sarah in the mission you KNOW she's been kissed!

Of course! She heard bells!

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My favorite musical that I love to wa2053723033_guys-and-dolls-1.jpgMarlonBrando.jpg.198770b3614576f51a28b923eaaf39c6.jpgtch over and over again is Guys and Dolls (1955). Marlon Brando's performance as Sky Masterson is absolutely mindblowing and fantastic! I've been watching this musical since 2015 and I can't get enough of it. Marlon Brando has a wonderful singing voice and good looks that make the musical stand out.2053723033_guys-and-dolls-1.jpgMarlonBrando.jpg.198770b3614576f51a28b923eaaf39c6.jpg

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American in Paris is probably a show that continues to fascinate me. I seem to love it more each time I see it.  Also, love anything with Fred and Ginger, Gene Kelly, all the fine lady dancers, big complicated dance numbers, sweet tender love songs... "If I Loved You", wow!!  It will be so awesome to learn more about this fascinating subject.

When I was in high school our chorus sang songs from South Pacific...I sort of sob through the whole thing now.  ?

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11 hours ago, Aisha said:

The Happiest Millionaire..I like Tommy Steele. His quirky dancing, optimism and brit aire. Mary Poppins.and The Sound of Music as well... Julie Andrews with her incredible voice and cheeky disposition. It brings back a time of innocence.

Ah, yes. Musicals are a time capsule.

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There are so many.... But, I love Meet Me in St. Louis and Seven Brides for Seven Brothers. When I was a teenager a local movie theatre showed some of the Gold Diggers and Broadway Melody movies, so my mom took me to see those.

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Movies that were part of my parents’ generation, which they handed down to my siblings and me growing up, are my favorite.  As a result, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, Holiday Inn, Singin’ in the Rain, and My Fair Lady are at the top of my list.

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10 hours ago, GeezerNoir said:

I never get tired of watching Chicago.  It's just one great song and dance number after another with almost no let up at all.  Plus it's kinda noirish, so there's that too.

Also have never gotten enough of Rocky Horror or The Gay Divorcee (because: Fate is a foolish name for chance.)

 

I think connecting the movie musical Chicago to film noir is smart and more advanced thinking. Nice going.

 

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My all time favorite musical is Sound of Music.  My grandmother took me to see it when I was a child and it started my love of musicals.  I love the musicals from the 1950s and 1960s the most.  I am looking forward to learning about the older musicals.  

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I have always loved watching Hello Dolly.  It's one of my very favorites!  I'm a huge Barbara Streisand fan.  I'm also a huge fan of Jerry Herman's music.  I think his work Hello Dolly, Mame, La Cage Aux Folles have a great balance of humor and heart.  

When I'm having a sad day or a difficult time I just listen to Before the Parade Passes by or Put on Your Sunday clothes and it cheers me right up. :) 

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7 hours ago, annsblyth said:

I think the main four musicals that I always come back to are Cover Girl, On An Island With You, Singin' in the Rain, and High Society, though there are many, many others! I'm trying to think of a theme that connects the four and one that would explain why I keep watching them again and again, and I think it's because they're all visually appealing, are beautifully shot in Technicolor, have talented stars and inspirational songs that help lift my spirits, and have a steady romance that I always end up rooting for. I think you could say that about most musicals, though! ?

You are already thinking critically about why musicals succeed. Good work. You are ahead of the curve.

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