I can remember very clearly the first time a musical really caught my eye. Of course I'd grown up with the songs in Disney films, like Beauty and the Beast and Cinderella and The Little Mermaid, and I probably watched The Wizard of Oz as often as I could (the Scarecrow is my favourite), but I remember the first time I really became a 'fan' of musicals.
I was in 8th grade and we'd just moved acrossed town and I'd enrolled in my third middle school in three years. My dad somehow convinced me to join this new scheme the school had started, of using peer counsellors in order to work out petty squabbles and problems between classmates. As part of the peer counsellors, I was sent on a long weekend to a nearby city in order to attend seminars and lectures. It was like a mini-vacation as a bunch of us girls shared two adjoining hotel rooms for three days of only half-hearted interest in the seminars. Most of the other girls were quite popular and I felt like I'd sneaked into something special for a few days.
On one of the nights, one the really popular girls got really excited that Grease was showing that night on television. She jumped on the bed and started singing and dancing to Summer Lovin' and Grease Lightning. I had no idea what she was on about and when she found out that I'd never seen the film, it became a slumber party and we all crowded in to watch it together. I loved every minute of it. Before the weekend was over, she recommended a bunch of other musicals that she loved as well.
I wonder now if how much of my enjoyment of Grease was because was because for a few hours anyway, I felt included within this group? It doesn't really matter, I guess. I didn't really look back. I loved watching The Sound of Music in a different light. I absolutely adore Singin' in the Rain and Annie. I made it a point to watch Fiddler on the Roof and Guys and Dolls. When films like Chicago and Moulin Rouge came out I was quite excited.
And West Side Story, of course, became one of my all-time favourites - I love the singing and the dancing and the romance and oh, the heartbreak. You should have seen the excited look on my face when I was 16 and was taking classes at a local community college. I was falling a bit behind and my professor said that I could earn extra credit by joining his movie club - the first film they were showing? West Side Story. Ha. I was so there. But I still always remember Grease as my first.
It didn't stop at just watching film musicals on television though. I've managed to persuade N to take me out to the West End and see incredible musicals there as well. Musicals like The King and I which swept me away even more than it did when I watched the film. And when my dad came to visit once, I took him to see Les Miserables, which was just beyond incredible. The huge set and beautiful costumes and the gorgeous singing. I was amazed by the entire experience.
My absolute favourite musical I've seen on the West End? Without a doubt, it would be Wicked. Despite not really liking the book by Gregory Maguire at all (or any other book that he's written, in fact) I absolutely adored every second of seeing Wicked. Even now, hearing Defying Gravity will give me goosebumps. I've tried to embed a YouTube video of Defying Gravity, I hope it works...
I do hope to continue going to see musicals in London. Our trips to the West End petered out around the time I fell pregnant with my Eldest, but I have asked N to take me to see The Lion King this year as my super special treat. I shall definitely let you know what I think of that when it happens :)
And of course, my love of all things musical don't stop there. I can't help but mention the absolutely brilliantly done musical episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Once More With Feeling has to be the top album that I listen to. I really can't tire of listening to that album. Joss Whedon was so spot on with the lyrics. Hugely clever, funny and very emotional.
So, there we have it. I love musicals. Which is your favourite?
Great post. I love musicals, my love of them started when I saw Jason Donovan as Joseph when I was 7. It's hard to pick a favourite, I think it would have to be Les Miserables or Miss Saigon though.ReplyDelete
I hope you love The Lion King, I saw it a few years back and adored it.
Awesome post! I love a good musical myself! I always tried out for my school play ands was in the Jets group for my schools version of West Side Story! :D lol xReplyDelete
I love musicals too! My favourite is The Sound Of Music, I recently saw it live and it was AMAZING! I;ve never seen Wicked but I want to. I also love The Wizard of Oz. And Grease is just...well. Y'know. GREASE.ReplyDelete
Brigadoon! With Gene Kelly. Where the village only appears one day in every hundred years. I love that film.ReplyDelete
I LOVE musicals. Especially Grease, Wicked, We Will Rock You and, of course, Disney. Though the first musical I ever saw on stage was The Lion King so I'll always love that.ReplyDelete
Les Mis is definitely up there, but my favourite by a long way is Blood Brothers.ReplyDelete
Hilarious first half and a second half to make you bawl like a baby.
Jenni - I've heard about Jason Donovan as Joseph! N was a fan as well :) I really love Les Mis, it was just such an amazing experience. I don't think I know much about Miss Saigon though..ReplyDelete
Definitely looking forward to The Lion King! N asked me what I'd really, really like. I think he was surprised when I mentioned seeing The Lion King. Can't think why he would be though!
Raimy - You were a Jet?! How cool is that :) I tried out once for the school musical (Music Man) but yeah. I can't sing. Or dance. So I ended up as stage crew. Or possibly that was a different play? I can't quite recall.
I actually really loved the musicals our school district put on as well. In elementary school, the year above us did The Wizard of Oz (my brother played the doorkeeper into The Emerald City) and I loved that. Also, our year did some weird mash-up of some 50s and 60s songs (which I LOVE) so obviously I enjoyed that as well. Then in high school, they did two musicals, Music Man and Guys and Dolls.
Cliona - Grease is definitely GREASE! I even like the second one! But sshh, keep that between you and me, nobody really likes the second one, right? :)
You should definitely see Wicked sometime, it's brilliant!
Vivienne - I heart Gene Kelly! Can't say that I've seen Brigadoon though..
Sophie - Disney is just fantastic. Everyone's childhood just wouldn't be the same without it. I really hope that The Lion King lives up to all of my very high expectations :)
Darren - Oh no! Bawl like a baby? In public? I don't know. But what a range of emotions!
Wow, I have no idea what my first musical was. My parents are big fans of musicals, and they played records of all sorts of musicals when I was little. Maybe it was Phantom of the Opera? I remember listening to Phantom of the Opera when I was volunteering in my school library, and I thought it was just the best thing ever.ReplyDelete
I love, love, love musicals too and have seen (live) or watched (movies) everyone that you mentioned at least once. My favorites are Wicked, Les Mis, RENT, Sound of Music and a few others. I fell hard for them all when I was young. I lived in London for awhile and saw everything I could in the West End. Now I review theatre once a week for a blog and so I get tickets to every show that's in my town. I love it!ReplyDelete
Fab post, I love musicals too - obvs the Disney ones are some of my favourite film musicals and I adore Once More With Feeling - I could listen to the soundtrack on loop endlessly!ReplyDelete
Stage wise the first I saw was Les Miserables but the one that made me fall in love with them was the west end production of Wicked (and to this day it has to be my favourite - though avenue q is absolutley fabulous too :D)
Of course I adore the Buffy Musical, but I also love Rent, Momma Mia, Moulin Rouge, and Chicago! I think Rent is my favorite though. I have watched that one so many times and cried every single time!ReplyDelete
Jenny - I've not seen the stage version of Phantom of the Opera, but oh do I love the music to that! :)ReplyDelete
Melissa - You review for a theatre? How awesome is that?!
Jesse - Oh I knew you'd mention your love of Wicked :) I keep seeing tweets about you playing the music during piano lessons!
Becca - Aww, I love it when that happens!