L13FC: Musicals

It’s June 13. ROBIN and I are happy you joined us to comment about the Lucky 13 Film Club topic, MUSICALS. From the stage to the screen or made for the film, musicals have been a part of cinematic history since 1927’s The Jazz Singer. Once theaters were wired for sound, silent films added pre-recorded scores and songs, and it only took a few years before the infant heartbeat boomed with enthusiasm by the end of the 1930s.


Cindy’s thoughts

What I’ve noticed about musicals are the intense reactions you get when you talk about them. I happen to like Chicago. Others can’t stand it. I happen to like Les Misérables and others claim it’s atrocious. Really? Hugh Jackman sang his heart out. What more could you want from an entertainer? Please don’t make me watch Meryl Streep in Into the Woods or Mama Mia. However, Robin, my co-host, likes it a lot. I’m one of the few out there who yawns during Disney animations. Yes, even The Lion King. Why is Frozen so beloved? I never liked Beauty in the Beast. When it comes to musicals, my favorite decade is the 1970s. I was a teenager and thought the rock musicals were cool. However, my favorite musicals come from the 1960s: West Side Story, Cabaret (1968/72), and The Sound of Music. Still, I prefer the voice of Barbara Streisand over Julie Andrews. Besides our subjective tastes, can we all agree Bob Fosse transformed the musical more than any other director/choreographer? Probably not.

Bob Fosse His trademark featured dancers posing on mundane props like chairs, steps, and ladders. Dancing duos and trios, quads or the entire chorus linked visually in silhouette or by movement with exact precision. His staging used the extremities like hands and fingers to stress a beat. His sexual vision blended humor and acrobatic mastery. Whispers and pillow talk built to fortissimo eruptions that sparked the imagination and claimed the senses. He made sex on the stage and the screen artful, funny, and interesting.

West Side Story: The choreography paired with the orchestral music of Leonard Bernstein is so powerful, I’m simultaneously energized and drained every time I experience the magic expressed by the two opposing gangs. The bold jewel tones worn by the Sharks contrast with the gang’s reserved, cool demeanor. The washed out colors of the Jets contrast with their boisterous, brash personality. Their dancing reflects that duality. There’s nothing better than the opening segment of the musical choreographed by Jerome Robbins.

What are your favorite musical scenes?

Robin’s impressions 

The film, A Chorus Line (1985)  was an entertaining adaptation of the Broadway production. The story is about how people who are singers and dancers end up in lesser parts as in a chorus line rather than the leading singer or main character. Sir Richard Attenborough took the screenplay and gave it a few boosts of energy while some say he took away the homosexual entendre and watered it down. The plot includes a director played by Michael Douglas in his handsome prime, who interviews a diverse cast of various ages and ethnic groups. The book was made into a screenplay by James Kirkwood, Jr. and Nicholas Dante.The music was written by Marvin Hamlisch and Edward Kleban. While it was nominated for Academy Awards, Tony’s and Golden Globes but was “beat out” by great competition in 1985.

I love “One,” which I hum when I meet someone who enchants or interests me and I think, “One, singular sensation. . . ”  Cameron English singing, “Who Am I Anyway?” resonates. Charles McGowan sings, “I Can Do That,” with verve and gusto. A new song, “Surprise, Surprise” was nominated for Best Song. It replaced but had some lines taken from original Broadway version of, Hello 12, Hello 13, Hello Love.” Interestingly, Alyson Reed is 58 now, playing a variety of guest TV roles and characters such as a mother from Mad Men, Modern Family and in the older television series, (one of my favorites) Providence. Alyson sings as Cassie, “Let Me Dance for You” and another favorite, “What I Did for Love.”
From Richard Attenborough’s autobiography, he interviewed “a woman with the last name of Ciccione” and rejected her in February 1984, for the Broadway version of this. Are you freaking out yet? I did! She later became known by her own “singular sensation” name–Madonna.
I would give “A Chorus Line” film version 3 out of 4 stars.
My one-liner review would be: “This film had punch, pizzazz and poignancy all wrapped up with lovely music.”
The main advantages of the movie Rent(2005) are the fabulous ensemble cast members and Chris Columbus directing this film version of the Broadway musical. Columbus was able to get six leading actors who performed and sang in Broadway version. My favorite songs are “Seasons of Love” which talks about how many minutes and hours are in a person’s lifetime. It embraces the closing mantra, “No Day but Today.” There are several apartment dwellers behind on paying rent in this story plotline, and they struggle with sexuality, gender identity, drugs, and the AIDs disease in the specific time frame of the late 80s. One of five people who chose to put their money into this Tribeca Productions was Robert De Niro.
My true ending song was when the cast stand a few feet from each other and sing the beautiful ensemble song, “Seasons of Love.” Jesse L. Martin’s voice and Idina Menzel‘s (Frozen) are my favorites but each is invaluable to the song. I rate Rent all 4 stars.
The third movie, Mamma Mia, makes me smile as I think about how much better this becomes as a film than as a stage production. I mean, it is filmed on a Greek Island! Once you have seen the hayloft scene with Meryl Streep or her scene with Pierce Brosnan on the rocky cliff by the Aegean Sea, it would be hard for me to reign in my love for this frivolity and to put it back inside theater walls. The musical play was written in 1998 by Catherine Johnson and performed at the West End in New York City in 2001. The film was directed by Phyllida Lloyd and released in 2008. The music was composed by the Swedish band, ABBA. Meryl Streep’s Donna is relaxed and playful. Donna owns a villa on the Greek island Kalokairi. When Donna had a daughter, she didn’t think ahead to Sophia’s wedding day. As the wedding date approaches, the bride wants to know who will walk her down the aisle. Once Sophia gets the names, she invites all three of her mother’s lovers to come to the island. Pierce Brosnan, Stellan Skarsgard, and Colin Firth are the men who are potentially Sophie’s father.
What songs from any musical are seared into your heart and mind? Why are they important? 

I enjoyed exploring John Kenrick’s MUSICALS101.COM to gather dates and information about the history of musicals in film. It’s impossible to break down the decades and give a summary worthy of the genre. Therefore, here’s a hodge-podge overview, omitting many classics, many actors, many directors, and trends. The purpose of the following list is to trigger your memory and to offer an impetus for discussion.

1930s.  Busby Berkely makes the camera move with the dancers. 42nd Street revives interest in the musical. 1930 Production Code censors films in general. MGM owns Micky Rooney and Judy Garland. RKO claims Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers. Walt Disney‘s Snow White and the Seven Dwarves. The Wizard of Oz. 

1940s.  Shirley Temple, Danny Kaye. Bing Crosby & Bob Hope’s Road series. No one topped MGM’s star Judy Garland during the decade with sixteen musicals and fourteen feature films. Her marriage to top director Vincente Minnelli propelled her talents. Gene Kelly was at the top of his game and so was Frank Sinatra.

1950s.  Says John Kerrick: “The 1950s were both the brightest and the saddest years for the Hollywood musical. The genre reached its zenith, with two musicals winning the Academy Award for Best Picture. At the same time, television drew millions of customers away from movie theatres and sped the death of the studios that had made lavish screen musicals possible. How sharp was the change? In the mid-1940s, 90 million Americans went to the movies each week – by the late 1950s, that figure had dwindled to 16 million. This coincided with the U.S. Federal courts forcing the studios to sell off their nationwide theater chains. Shaken by these changes, a long-profitable system fell apart with amazing speed. By the decade’s end, the major Hollywood studios disbanded most of their full-time employees, from the rank and file tech crews to the stars, writers, and directors.”

20th Century Fox: Rogers and Hammerstein classics Oklahoma, Carousel, South Pacific. 

MGM Greats: An American in Paris, Singing in the Rain, The Band Wagon, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, Gigi. 

1960s.  Julie Andrews and Elvis Presley. The Beatles, A Hard Day’s Night. Adapting Broadway musicals to the screen: The Music Man, My Fair Lady, West Side Story, Funny Girl, Sweet Charity, What a Way to Go. Oliver!

1970s. Bob Fosse‘s Cabaret and All That Jazz. Rock rules: Jesus Christ Super Star, Quadrophenia, Tommy, The Rose, Rocky Horror Picture Show, and Grease. Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. 

1980s. The Blues Brothers. Footloose. A Chorus Line. Purple Rain. Yentel. The Muppets. Little Shop of Horrors. Victor-Victoria. Hairspray. The Little Mermaid. 

1990s.  Disney’s New Golden Age. Beauty and the Beast. Alladin. Pocahontas. The Lion King. 

2000s. Chicago collects the Oscar for Best Film, 34 years after Oliver! in 1968. Moulin Rouge. 8 Mile. Phantom of the Opera. Rent. The Producers. Sweeny Todd. Mama Mia. Dream Girls. Walk the Line. 

2010s.  Les Misérables. Frozen. Into the Woods. Jersey Boys. 


What are your favorite musical scenes?

What songs from any musical are seared into your heart and mind?

Stephen Sondheim or Andrew Lloyd Webber? 

The best musical pioneer?

109 Comments on “L13FC: Musicals

  1. My all-time favourites are undoubtedly the Rogers/Astaire collaborations. I can watch them every day. After that, any Ziegfeld Follies, ‘Gold Diggers’, ’42nd Street’, and most musicals of that period. West Side Story is a classic, undeniably, but my modern favourites hark back to the Roaring twenties once again; ‘Cabaret’, ‘Chicago’, and even ‘Bugsy Malone’. (An amazing performance from a young Jodie Foster.) I love that time period in films, generally.

    I like Streisand’s voice too, but I am not sure if sitting thorough ‘Funny Girl’, Funny Lady’, and ‘Hello Dolly’ is worth the effort, just to hear her.

    Like you, I am left cold by any and all Disney musical films. (Except ‘Dumbo’) Likewise films of some musical productions, like ‘Evita’, ‘Mamma Mia’, and ‘Les Miserables.’

    If i could just have two, it would have to be ‘Cabaret’ and ‘Shall We Dance.’

    Best wishes as always, Pete.

    • I forgot we share a love for the 20s and 30s. I read that Astaire and Rogers were cordial on the sets, but perfectionists on the stage. They’d stop during some takes to empty out the blood from their shoes and then grin and bear it for more takes.
      Barbara had such a voice –it’s her records, I like the best. Yes, Funny Girl was fine, but it’s too ridiculous to sit through the others. Julie Andrews is perfect in all ways. I could watch her every day. Good call remembering Dumbo. I liked that one, too. Fantasia was ahead of its time; I don’t know if you could call it a musical. I like your final two choices. Thanks, Pete, for your comments, as always.

  2. A successful musical for me is one where I find myself humming its tunes for weeks afterwards. Or, alternatively, the songs that I sing in the shower when nobody is listening (I hope).

    Hence the tunes I hum or songs I sing are:

    “Edelweiss”, “A few of my favourite things” and “Do Re Mi” from Sound of Music
    “Moonlight” from Cats
    “Music of the Night” from Phantom
    “Master of the House” from Les Mis
    “If I were a rich man” from Fiddler on the Roof
    “Money” and “Willkommen” from Cabaret
    “What a swell party this is” from High Society
    “Style” from Robin and the Seven Hoods
    And almost all songs from Mary Poppins, Chicago and Godspell 🙂

    As for Mamma Mia, I was singing along with those well before the musical 🙂

    Thanks for a superb post. I also loved the clip. 🙂


    • Welcome Greg, I’m glad you listed your songs. I think that’s the power of them. Even if the musical is “bad” by all accounts, there’s a song in there that grips you. Phantom, for instance, I love that sappy love song, “All I Ask From You” it makes me cry. From Fiddler, it’s “Matchmaker”. Any song from West Side Story. “Officer Krupky” is fun to act out (It was anyway when I was a girl) I can sing inside out. I’m glad you had the time to watch the clips. I appreciate that!

  3. Reblogged this on witlessdatingafterfifty and commented:

    This came out today on Cindy Bruchman’s blog. Today is June 13, 2016: Lucky 13 Film Club Day!
    The subject is “Musicals!”
    Hope this lightens up your Monday.
    Thank you, Cindy, for allowing me to write up my opinions. . .
    Please join us and remember some of your favorite musicals. Tell us your favorites!

  4. I have to admit that I am generally not a fan of musicals however I love Grease and I really liked Chicago. Plus I would count Moulin Rouge as one of my favourite films of all time.

    • I’m in your corner, Abbi. Not a musical nut like some thespian friends I’ve had over the years. But when I like one, it tends to be more important than a general film. To tell the story with songs and dance as well as with dialogue is well, entertaining. I think I like dark comedies, like Cabaret and Sweeny Todd than cutesy happy-happy ones in general. I was suckered into the dark realm of Sondheim and Webber. Phantom and Les Miz –my God, how many times have I seen them? Too many.

  5. Hello Cindy & Robin! Happy Monday the 13th! Perfect timing on this topic given the Tonys was on last night and the musical Hamilton won big.

    Cindy – I’ve actually never seen Les Misérables the film in full. For some reason I’m not as fond of musicals where every single line is sung. Some of my faves, Phantom of the Opera (2004), Moulin Rouge, Sound of Music, Singing in the Rain, etc. have regular dialog for the most part, peppered with musical numbers. I do think the acting in Les Mis was top notch.

    I LOVE Disney’s animated film Beauty and the Beast, curious how they can pull off the live action version which I heard will be a full musical.

    • Welcome, Ruth. Yay for Hamilton. I show the following clip to my students during the Colonial era. They get a kick out of history when it’s rapped. Congratulations to Lin-Manuel Miranda and the musical’s 11 wins. Only a matter of time before the film version!

      • Yep indeed! I talked about that in my weekend recap, it’s a great year at the Tonys. Glad to see Miranda’s found much success and he’s gonna be in the Mary Poppins’ reboot.

    • I thought of you when I was claiming not to like Beauty and the Beast. I know you are looking forward to the film. I was thinking The Jungle Book is another Disney musical, wouldn’t you say, that got the reboot? Moulin Rouge is a love or hate musical. I laughed hard when they redid Madonna’s “Like a Virgin” It is the best part of the whole film.

      • The Jungle Book movie that’s recently released wasn’t a musical, and I thought they did a fantastic job.

        Ahah yeah, the ‘Like a Virgin’ scene was a hoot, but my all time fave scene there was the Tango de Roxanne, it gives me goosebumps!!

          • She was ok, kinda overrated (for that role in particular and generally as well). I only like ONE musical number in that whole movie, and that was the hilarious ‘Agony’ number by Chris Pine and the actor playing his brother.

          • Yes, I remember that seen. Is there any song I like from that Sondheim musical? Well, I generally enjoy his harmonies, for I know how hard it is to sing them.

          • Sondheim is a genius! I do love the songs in Into The Woods, I just think it might’ve worked better on stage than on screen.

          • “I only like ONE musical number in that whole movie, and that was the hilarious ‘Agony’ number by Chris Pine and the actor playing his brother.”

            Hear, hear.

  6. I’m probably more in Cindy camp for her chosen era of the ’70s and most of her thoughts about musicals…although, I’m one that abhors ‘Chicago’ the film (and really wished Bob Fosse would have been alive to have translated himself instead of that hack Rob Marshall…but I’m no bitter 😉 ). I’m the only one in my household to out and out loves ‘The Sound of Music’.

    What are your favorite musical scenes?

    Why don’t we just say anything Bob Fosse choreographed that had a song attached on film. Include what Greg listed for ‘The Sound of Music’. Everything Julie Andrews and Robert Preston sang while on stage in ‘Victor/Victoria’. Judy Garland melting hearts with Over the Rainbow in ‘The Wizard of Oz and The Boy Next Door in ‘Meet Me in St. Louis’. I’ve a soft spot for Frankie Avalon Beauty School Drop-out and the lone song especially written for the film, You Are the One That I Want, from ‘Grease’. Of course, Lena Horne in ‘Stormy Weather and Los Lobos’ David Hildago doubling star Lou Diamond Phillips’ singing voice for that grand rendition of ‘La Bamba’ in that film.

    I’m sure there so many more that I can’t bring up at the moment, but I can live with just listing these. And because Robin mentioned her fave ‘true ending song’, I’d add Barbara Streisand’s bravado performance belting out With One More Look At You & Watch Closely Now at the end of her (lesser) version of ‘A Star is Born’ (which gets me every time…I use to turn it up whenever I played the album):

    What songs from any musical are seared into your heart and mind?

    Every single song from ‘A Hard Day’s Night’ and ‘Help’.

    Stephen Sondheim or Andrew Lloyd Webber?

    Oh, Andrew Lloyd Webber, and only because I’ve seen more of his work on stage and on film.

    The best musical pioneer?

    All the technical and creative people who helped to bring sound to silent film in 1900. They unleashed it all.

    • Michael, thank you for sharing your personal favorites! Ah, the consummate Beatles fan. I thought A Hard Day’s Night was an outstanding film. Thanks for mentioning La Bamba and Stormy Weather. Lena Horne. What a gorgeous talent she was! It’s been suggested Hollywood hates musicals and tries to squelch them. I think of the poor offerings from this decade and notice they are all paying tribute to the past. Hamilton won at the Tony’s last night. It’s a rap musical. Original. That’s a good sign. I want something new not regurgitated.

    • ” … really wished Bob Fosse would have been alive to have translated himself instead of that hack Rob Marshall” Amen to that! 😉

      • Okay, your turn. What was so wrong, so hackneyed about Chicago? It implemented a lot of poses and pizzazz and all that jazz. If felt incredibly like a Bob Fosse production.

        • Well, speaking for myself as one who adores ‘All That Jazz’ and has seen ‘Chicago’ on stage, it just feels like Bob Fosse-lite. Yes, while Marshall can use Fosse’s stage moves as a template, it comes across as just that. A by-the-numbers adaptation of a stage play, lacking the verve Fosse would have put in by virtue of its translation to the cinema. Don’t get me wrong, Zeta-Jones and Queen Latifah do a heck of job in their roles, it doesn’t save the film the critics and the vaunted Academy fell over themselves to award it as that year’s best. It’s not, IMO. You saw some of same in 2014’s ‘Into the Woods’, let alone his not-so-great film interpretation of ‘Nine’, which is a musical translation of Fellini’s 8 1/2 (which some see in Fosse’s ‘All That Jazz’). Sheesh, and don’t get me started on his inane exposition of ‘Memoirs of a Geisha’! Of course, YMMV. 😉

          • “A by-the-numbers adaptation of a stage play, lacking the verve Fosse would have put in by virtue of its translation to the cinema.”
            Okay, I will grant you that if Fosse had been alive, it would have been different and that verve would have made it grittier, or sexier. Maybe the Academy, et al, loved it so much and awarded it best picture because they all miss Bob Fosse and should have given him more accolades while alive.

        • Before I respond I want to ask you something. Have you seen Nine (2009) and/or Into the Woods (2014)? Did you like them? Because Chicago, Nine and Woods have exactly the same problems.

          • Something original is lost in the adaptation. That spark or as Michael would say, verve. Kind of like how A Chorus Line is a borrowed version of All that Jazz? It falls short by comparison. Back to Chicago–didn’t Bob Fosse do this musical in Chicago for years before his death? Did you see it on stage? I wonder how Marshall set about in the adaptation, that is, if he tried to match the stage version? I am guessing here, but did Marshall try to give tribute to Fosse? Or was he trying to make a personal stamp?

          • Sorry, I meant to respond sooner but I have literally been battling the mother of all colds! Anyhow, I agree with Leopard13 — Marshall’s work lacks “verve.” There is an edginess in Fosse’s work that’s missing in Marshall’s. Plus Fosse learned, pretty quick I must add, the art of editing. That’s another thing Marshall doesn’t seem to understand. The tempo is all wrong in Chicago and Nine. I did like Memoirs of a Geisha. Perhaps producer Steven Spielberg kept Marshall on a short leash. 😉

          • Sorry you’ve been ill, Eric, and hope you feel better soon! “The tempo is all wrong.” Do you mean the song distributions (some fast some slow) were uneven or that individual songs weren’t handled well, say, John C. Reilly’s clown, was too slow?
            I enjoyed the marionette scene a lot. Is that one you approve of or not?

          • I’m not sure how to explain it. If you watch Cabaret or All That Jazz you can see that the “montage” is constructed in such a way that it matches the rhythm of the music and the dance movements. The camera angles, the duration of the shots, etc., everything you see is in perfect unison with what you hear. Mute your TV and you will still feel something. That tells me that Fosse understood very well the technical aspects of cinema. Marshall, on the other hand, doesn’t understand the differences between cinema and theater. For example, in Chicago, the musical numbers act as an autonomous entity — the camera is simply a tool used to capture them. Fosse fused the two elements in a seemingly organic manner. Not sure if that makes sense to you. PS Thank you for the well wishes!

  7. I’ve got to admit first and foremost that I haven’t seen many musicals – though I have caught a few of the classics such as Singin’ In The Rain, On The Town, Seven Brides For Seven Brothers, etc. etc. I haven’t seen The Sound Of Music, West Side Story, Oliver!, Rocky Horror, Chicago, My Fair Lady, Cabaret or Top Hat, to name but a few, and I’m just listing those so you can see the extent of my lack of knowledge in this area!

    Anyway – some of those I’ve seen I like very much…but overall I wouldn’t say I’m a fan of the genre (I disliked the most recent Les Mis, for example – sorry Cindy – and Baz Luhrmann’s films (to pick one name who is mentioned above) have me running for the off button (Romeo + Juliet aside, which I quite enjoyed). One that I’ve enjoyed recently is London Road, which applies the upbeat musical theatre style to a very unsual and arguably ill-suited topic – the murders of several women in the town of Ipswich around ten years ago. It’s half-sung, half-spoken, and the lyrics are accounts of people who lived near to the murderer at the time, so it’s quite weird given that musicals tend to be love stories for the most part. I’ve not seen anything quite like it. Other than that, in terms of recent musicals I enjoyed John Carney’s Sing Street, which came out a month or so ago.

    If I were to pick a favourite…I guess either an edgier one like Quadrophenia or a kids film such as Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory or Mary Poppins. Those two are full of great individual scenes and songs, but the Supercalifragilistic… number in the latter made me smile as a kid.

    • Hi Stu! You mentioned a personal fav of mine-Quadrophenia–I think Pete Townsend is a genius. Tommy is just too much fun to watch. When I think of British musicals, they generally seem to have a dark side to them. Andrew Lloyd Webber put his stamp on things. The London Road sounds intriguing! I’ve heard nothing about it. The premise sounds as gross as Sweeny Todd. By the way, you might like that one with Johnny Depp. I love the harmonies of Sondheim. the gratuitous blood ruined it, well, and Helena Bonham Carter can’t sing, but other than that (!) it was a fine, Gothic version of the Broadway play starring Angela Lansbury. Anyway, your kid choices–I veer to the sad, so in Mary Poppins, my favorite song was “Feed the Birds.”

      • London Road, is a musical play (later film) where some of the script is sung, rather than spoken. The story is based on actual events about the murders of prostitutes, in an area known for streetwalkers. It is different, but not my cup of tea, sadly.

      • I love Tommy too – though more for the soundtrack than the film generally. I have seen Sweeney Todd…but I’d completely forgotten that it’s a musical! I can’t remember much about it at all.

  8. To beetley Pete, I love the old fashioned, traditional musicals. They truly gave a lot of beauty and schmaltz to music, lots of sentimentality! Thanks for liking the musicals post and it is wonderful to hear your valuable thoughts on the matter!

  9. To leopard 13, I loved Madeline Kahn in “Blazing Saddles” which reminds me of excellent and comical, “Rocky Horror Picture Show.” Wasn’t that a hoot? 🙂 Thanks for your thoughts on musicals!

  10. To Leopard 13, I love A Star is Born, including your listing the finale songs! Thanks for reminding me of “With One Look at You Now and Watch Closely Now!”

  11. To Greg Long,i once was married to a Scot Long who’s brother was named Greg. Just a coincidence, I am sure! 🙂
    Thank you for your choices, all very valid ones. Every musical has at least one hit song but you are right about Mary Poppins and Sound of Music, part of the fabric of our musical life.
    Thanks for listing so many hummable songs which had lyrics worth remembering.
    I sang, “Edelweiss” and “Feed the Birds” to my children at bedtime. 🙂
    You were the first who liked “Mamma Mia!” I was surprised since who doesn’t like ABBA? Lol.

  12. To Ruth, I really understand what you are saying, since I like to hear dialogue and have the plot seem more natural. The singing words to each other back and forth reminds me of opera. I like Gilbert and Sullivan’s operetta’s, humor and song.
    The musicals that you mentioned all have good qualities, Ruth. 🙂 I like Phantom, admit to liking Moulin Rouge and in Into the Woods, like James Corden and predicted when I reviewed it, that he would be very popular. He is a likable host on late night, getting me to smile and stay up sometimes. 🙂
    Thanks for your greetings, Ruth. I will check your posts out soon!

  13. I love musicals. I thought at first (perhaps because of the Tony Awards last night), that you meant stage musicals, which are so different from the movie versions, although there are some shows that were movies first, and then stage musicals, like the recent “Once.” (I loved that movie, but haven’t seen the show.) I loved Les Miserable as a show, but as a movie it was OK. Same with Into the Woods–listen to the Broadway soundtrack. I’m definitely Sondheim over Webber.

    I love Astaire and Gene Kelly–Singing in the Rain is brilliant. I grew up listening to West Side Story, the Sound of Music, Fiddler on the Roof, South Pacific, Oklahoma. I also love more recent musicals, such as The Light in the Piazza and Ordinary Days (my daughter got to sing “I’ll Still be Here” in a college production).

    We recently saw The Secret Garden at the Arden Theatre in Philadelphia. The score is beautiful, and it was an excellent production (beautiful voices and acting, and a clever set design.

    Never saw Mamma Mia–and no real desire to. 🙂

    OK. I’ll stop.

    • Merril, welcome! I remember reading The Secret Garden as a kid. It’s now a musical, huh? Sounds interesting. I have a huge crush on Gene Kelly. He really was above and beyond the norm. Have you seen him and Shirley MacLaine in “What a Way to Go”? There’s a lot of dance numbers and the costumes are a hoot. Otherwise, Brigadoon, Singing in the Rain, and of course An American in Paris. What a dreamy perfect idea of a man. I like him infinitely more than Frank Sinatra.

      • The Secret Garden is not a new musical. It won a bunch of Tony Awards in 1991.
        I love the Heather on the Hill dance scene with Gene Kelly and Cyd Charisse! 🙂

  14. To Stu, I think you would like “Rocky Horror Picture Show” for humor. Being from Cleveland, we all were prepared for midnight showings with our Cleveland Plain Dealer (or was it the Cleveland Press?) newspapers. You would recognize so many of the actors who played the characters.
    I agree “Quadrophenia” is a great musical. 🙂
    I can understand just liking the music from musicals like, “Tommy.”
    I think it all has to do with our musical tastes and experiences. I really liked, “Jesus Christ Superstar” and “Godspell,” because we had a chance to play them in marching band. Thanks for sharing your opinions and listening, as well as reading our post today! 🙂

  15. Cindy, on my posts, there is a “reply” button for each person. I apologize since I could not figure this out here. 🙂 I was not able to respond to each person as I read their comments. I worked on this late tonight and hope that people will come back to find my responses to their eloquent comments. 🙂
    Thank you for completing this excellent summary of musicals throughout the years.
    My parents had the chance to see one of the only early inter-racial and controversial musicals with Dianne Carroll who portrayed a model who falls in love with a photographer. The songs were beautiful and I believe major league lyricist and musician collaboration. I will go look up on the internet. We had the Broadway record, with beautiful songs. Wonder why someone e doesn’t update this one? Hope you enjoyed your many supporters who came to comment, Cindy! 🙂

  16. The Broadway musical, “No Strings” with lyrics and music by Richard Rodgers after Hammerstein passed away. Performed in 1962, Dianne Carroll impressed them while interviewed by Johnny Carson. The male character was played by Richard Kiley. The most popular song and one I loved was called, “The Sweetest Sounds” ( I ever heard). 580 performances and nominated but didn’t win a Tony.
    I like “The Wiz” and “Wicked,” which you may have already mentioned, Cindy. You covered so much! I was happy to add my two cents.

  17. As I wrote in my earlier comment, I’m not a big fan of musicals. Or at least I thought I wasn’t until I started to think about musicals I not only like, but LOVE. As a child I loved “Mary Poppins”. My brother and I (both now in our 50s) will occassionally go through an uncoordinated, but enthusiastic, rendition of “Step In Time Mary Poppins” at family gatherings if enough carrots (or glasses something) are dangled in front of us.
    “Fiddler On The Roof” was, and still is, a big favourite. And of course “The Wizard of Oz”.
    I recently watched “Mamma Mia” again with my school class. We’d booked a whole cinema and many of the students, who are adult immigrants to Sweden, had never seen this film before. I think it’s humanly impossible not to enjoy this film. Every scene is a favourite scene for me. And the settings are so glorious.
    When the film was over everyone had smiles on their faces. We walked out of the cinema. It was pouring with rain, windy and cold, but somehow it just didn’t matter.

    • Oh, Rob, three cheers to you for reminding us all the power of musicals. Even I, who claim not to like it much, smiled knowing so many people enjoyed it. That’s why musicals are important. They are sheer entertainment leaving smiles. What kind of gift is that? Especially on a windy, rainy day in Sweden?

  18. Great to see this L13C going on, and being so popular too. All the comments are just as enjoyable as the article, and reminded me of so many other good musicals that I had missed out in the thought process.
    Best wishes to all, Pete.

    • Thank you, Pete. I think what I’ve gleaned from all this is that even if you don’t like a musical (Cats, oh, no!) there’s usually a song that sticks with you and you find yourself singing at some point. At the lowest level, it’s fun to parody them. I remember listening to Les Miz in the car while my kids were young. We crossed counties listening to that tape. My kids grew up and those melodramatic songs are fun way to bond and laugh. Who’d of thought they would leave a lasting impression and become a family memory/tradition? Just saying the word tradition, for Pete’s sake (no pun intended), I INSTANTLY think of Fiddler on the Roof. I hear Tevye’s voice in my head and sing while doing the dishes or ironing. 😉

  19. Favorite scenes? So many! Robert Preston singing “Ya Got Trouble” in The Music Man, Ron Moody’s “Reviewing the Situation” in Oliver!, Christopher Walken’s dance number in Pennies from Heaven, Ann Margret’s “Smash-The-Mirror” (Tommy), Julie Andrews’s fantastic self-parody in S.O.B., and Preston, again, (in drag) mocking Andrews in Victor/Victoria, etc.

    • LOL, you picked some great ones, Eric. Hmm. For me: WSS, Officer Krupke, Donald O’Connor climbing the walls in “Make them Laugh” Judy singing “Somewhere Over the Rainbow”. Mother Superior singing “Climb Every Mountain” -Caberet, “Money, Money” and yes, to Ann Margaret rolling around in pork n beans. Oh, Elvis’s “Jail House Rock” Sweeney Todd “Pretty Women”. I could go all day long…

      • Oh, I forgot “Money, Money” — love that song! Elvis’s “Jail House Rock” is an iconic moment. Yes, so many to choose from. 🙂

  20. Grew up on Musicals … a favoured upbringing: The King and I, Camelot, Oklahoma, South Pacific, West Side Story, The Music Man, My Fair Lady, and on and on. What a joy !!

    • Yes, it was a staple of amusement for our generation, wasn’t it? Not so now. I don’t think the majority of kids watch them, unless it’s a Disney animation. There are too many choices of entertainment.

    • Good for you! If you were stranded on a deserted island and could only take 2 copies with you to watch, which two would you take? 😉

      • Oh no, not two! It is too hard to choose. Well, what about The Wizard of Oz and The Fiddler on the Roof? Still, I love many more! 🙂

  21. If that one number you showcased from Sweet Charity was the only thing Bob Fosse gave us it would have been enough to ensure his creative legacy throughout the ages. What a talent and your paragraph Cindy perfectly summed up why it was so good. I’m yet to see Chorus Line Robin but I enjoy the song What I Did For Love. Whatever misgivings I have about Mamma Mia I stand in awe of Meryl Streep when she sings The Winner Takes It All complete with cinematic seaside cliffs. Before Pierce just has to stand there and try his best not to look like a git. It was the one Abba hit I was least familiar with when I saw the movie and I threw up my hands at how good Meryl sang it and said “Is there anything this woman can’t do?!”. Worth seeing the film just for it and maybe the three lads getting into disco gear for the finale. The song is all the more poignant given what it was written about. In an interview one of the Abba members said “Well nobody wins in a divorce really.”

    • Thanks for stopping by, Lloyd. I think Meryl and the men had a fun time — the finale was a hoot. I’m used to Colin acting silly but it was a fun time watching Pierce act ridiculous. The on-location filming was the best part of the film for me. I think it would be perfect if one were depressed or surrounded by clouds and rain. It would lift the spirits. A Chorus Line is entertaining. Your thoughts on Chicago? It seems to either elicit love or hate reactions.

      • You’re right Cindy, about Pierce and those gorgeous Greek islands. I like Chicago, I may not have given it Best Picture but I wouldn’t have given it to Gladiator either and they’re all fine films. There’s something lacking scope for me in the film adaptation, compare it to say West Side Story or Les Mis for example but the original musical is so strong that I think it is a faithful enough adaptation and a good film. He Had It Coming is incredibly erotic and darkly humourous. I think the cast did fine too although I hated all the quick cuts for Richard Gere’s number. If he can actually tap dance then let’s see it! Short answer, I liked Chicago a lot.

        • We are in the same camp. Unless he couldn’t –but I don’t know. Nothing like a tap dancer. I loved He Had It Coming, too. That was the most “Fosse” scene of the movie. Oh, add Queen Latifah’s songs. She was perfect in the role. So what should have won that year as Best Picture? I think it’s enough that Polanski and Brody won for The Pianist. The Hours was a very good film but I don’t know the best.

          • I haven’t seen The Pianist but would be happy to have The Hours, Far From Heaven, The Two Towers or About Schmidt all beat Chicago. I don’t lose sleep either that Chicago took the gong instead of them. Yet for me Adaptation is better than all of them. Ye Gods what a weak year for nominees.

          • You should see The Pianist. It’s exquisitely done. A fine Holocaust film,
            if you know what I mean 😉

  22. I can’t say I know enough to pick between Sondheim and Webber but I will say I’m 18 with my friends and we all put on suits and go to the theatre and see Les Miserables and ever since then it’s been the stage musical I judge all others by. I’ve jogged many kilometres listening to Defying Gravity on my iphone but Bring Him Home has moved me to tears, Empty Chairs never stops being poignant, I can feel my heart break with I Dreamed A Dream, my feet march with Can You Hear The People Sing and One More Day is just my God it’s One More Day people. Do you have ice running in your veins?! That being said I suppose that geezer Webber has written a few decent songs. 😉 Moonlight, That’s All I Ask Of You, etc. The King of Sparta, Gerard Butler himself can knock out a tune along with Patrick Wilson and Emmy Rossum in the decent film adaptation of Phantom. Fred Astaire, Cyd Charisse and a million others were so breathtakingly talented and gave us so many gifts but it’s Gene Kelly for me and Singin in the Rain. The only film musical I possibly love more is The Blues Brothers.

  23. And just in case I haven’t waffled on enough yet in answer to certain stand out songs or scenes. While an actual Austrian folk song rather than Rogers and Hammerstein classic, I love when Edelweiss is sung in Sound of Music. If I remember correctly it’s also finally when Daddy Von Trapp decides to be a member of his family so to speak rather than a distant authoritian figure. Speaking of Rodgers and Hammerstein, check out Carousel my mother’s favourite of theirs and mine too. I love the dance in King and I. So much restrained attraction in that scene and such wonderful costumes and set. Deborah Kerr and Yul Brynner at the height of their powers. I also love Old Man River, I understand there maybe dated condescending racist overtones in it but it was sung so beautifully by the performers in both films and ultimately I think it’s a beautifully sad song about an unfairly hard dispiriting working life that so many labourers of all races experienced throughout the ages. Finally one song song, one scene, one performance that so effectively communicates universal yearning it has become absolutely timeless. Judy Garland singing Over The Rainbow in The Wizard of Oz.

    • R & H tapped into the innocence and goodness in us all. I LOVE Shirley Jones. I was a fan of the Partridge Family as a teen just because she was the mom. Forget about David Cassidy. But I regress. The Music Man and Sound of Music are my two favorites. Carousel is right up there, too, thanks to Shirley. I’m a sap for such silly love songs:

      And Showboat–you mentioned Ol Man River — how indicitive of our times today that one has to apologize for liking a song because it would be condoning a social issue. Old Man River is a gorgeous song because William Warfield sang it. What a baritone!

      Thanks so much, Lloyd, for your thought provoking comments.

  24. Pingback: L13FC: A Year in Review – Cindy Bruchman

  25. I grew up on musicals. I grew up with musicals like Wicked, Annie, Sound of Music, Lion King, Aladdin, Beauty and the Beast, and Grease. Through musicals like these, I started to slowly fall in love with them and the foundation of musicals was formed through them

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