The Movie Musical

Thursday, January 12, 2017

In the summer of 1989, my parents moved me from Overland Park, KS to Manassas, VA where I would start my sophomore year of high school not knowing a sole. We had lived in Overland Park for roughly six years and I had started my freshman year the previous fall. Starting a new school, as a sophomore, was like starting as a freshman all over again. I was not a happy teenager. I was fifteen. 

But let me back up. During the fall of my freshman year, I was introduced to my first musical. I had seen Wizard of Oz on TV, a scared child curled up on a chair watching the Wicked Witch of the West do her thing, but I didn't realize it was a musical. It was a movie about a girl, her dog, and those fabulous red shoes. We saw Annie in the movie theater and I was sure I could star as the next Annie in a remake! Same goes for The Sound of Music. I had seen these films on TV, but never really grasped the movie musical concept. Fast forward to 1988 and the Shawnee Mission South production of West Side Story. I was hooked. Not only on musical theater, but theater in general. 

I immediately purchased my first VHS version of West Side Story and watched it on repeat. In my bedroom, the dormer room of the house, I found myself reenacting scenes from the movie. Sometimes I was Maria, sometimes Anita. I even played the men, because as an alto, I can sing most male roles! Same thing happened when I rediscovered The Sound of Music. I was Liesl and I was dancing around my bedroom as if I was 16 going on 17. Or, I was dancing the Landler as if I was Maria. Suddenly, movie musicals was an escape into a world that was joyful and dreamy. A world I wanted to live in.

So when we made our move to VA, I lived in our basement all summer watching musical after musical. I had my mom drive me to the local Blockbuster where I would rent two or three movies at a time. I would bring them home, hole up in the basement, and lose myself in this colorful world of gorgeous costumes, intricate choreography, and most times, love stories. There was Singin' in the Rain, An American in Paris, Meet Me in St. Louis, Easter Parade, Kiss Me Kate, Anchors Aweigh, and Seven Brides for Seven Brothers. The list could go on and on, but this blog post can only go so far! But with every movie I watched, I sank deeper and deeper in love with the classic movie musical. 

As the years rolled by, I not only fell in love with the movie musical, I fell in love with live theater as well. Musical Theater was my thing, my major in college (Theater Performance to be exact), and my happy place. I recently watched a You Tube video on Facebook where they interviewed a group of teens and asked them to watch clips from old movie musicals. The interviewer would then ask them if they knew what movie the songs were from. In most instances, not one of them could answer the question. They were able to answer Singing in the Rain, Music Man, and Fiddler on the Roof. They didn't know West Side Story, My Fair Lady, or Seven Brides for Seven Brothers. The referenced Glee for obvious reasons, but what I thought was most interesting, is that they constantly referenced the Family Guy. And, a majority of them stated that they needed to start watching more movie musicals. Music to my ears!

Which brings me to the inspiration for this blog post, La La Land. We have tickets to see the movie Friday night and I am on pins and needles until then. Watching the Golden Globes on Sunday was inspiring. That a modern day movie musical could bring accolades in 2017 is refreshing. A rejuvenation of an era long gone. A place where you can go to lose yourself in the magic of film making. A happy place. And, hopefully these interviewed teens find themselves in their local theater soaking up what could be classic film making in years to come. 

If you are reading this, and haven't started your child on movie musicals, it's never to early! McKinley has watched The Wizard of Oz numerous times and loves it. Thank goodness for Disney Jr, because in a way, they are bringing their own version of musicals with shows like Sophia the First and Elena of Avalor. Even The Lion Guard offers up song and dance. We don't have Netflix, but some of the teens stated that they've seen these titles scroll by. With this being our new Blockbuster, take a minute to stop and watch. As for me, I will just thumb through my catalog of VHS tapes and DVDs in the basement. 

Are you movie musical nerd? It's pretty obvious that I am. What are some of your favorites? I do love For Me and My Gal, Funny Face, and White Christmas. And I could spend all day watching them. With an ice storm heading our this weekend, now may be the perfect time to pop one of these in and let it roll in the background while McKinley plays. 


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