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What Happened To Whimsical Musicals?

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When I was a kid my family would use the holidays as a special time to watch classic movies. For my family, musicals were always the top choice. Something about an engaging story that broke out into song and choreography every ten minutes or so just struck my fancy.

Other than Moulin Rouge and the more recent, Chicago, Hollywood just doesn’t do musicals for the whole family anymore. That really sucks.

The first musical I ever heard was Jesus Christ Superstar. My mom, a hippie of sorts, would play that on the turntable when we were we tots and scare the living bejeesus out of us while burning incense, doing macrame making pottery or some such hippie nonsense.

Now that I am a seasoned vet, I am no longer afraid of Jesus Christ Superstar and while Andrew Lloyd Webber has yet to repeat this rocking piece of genius, he still seems to be the only one trying to make musicals.

The first musical I ever watched was Oliver. The classic Charles Dickens story set to wonderful music was riveting – and who doesn’t love stories about orphans done wrong then swept up by a wealthy, loving benefactor? A personal fantasy of mine to be honest (sorry mom and dad)!

Now that I have my own children, we are introducing her to the wonderful world of classic musicals and I get to fall in love with them all over again.

Lily’s current favorites are a tie between Mary Poppins and the Wizard of Oz, two absolute classic musicals that appeal to the young and old. Julie Andrews gives a brilliant performance as the magical nanny Mary Poppins, teaching valuable lessons to unattentive fathers and self-absorbed mothers. The songs are wonderful and I find my self humming, “just a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down in the most delightful way,” while administering something nasty to my little one.

Of course the Wizard of Oz is perhaps the most famous of all musicals. With the lilting vocals of Judy Garland as Dorothy, the much beloved young girl carried away to a mysterious world of munchkins, good witches/bad witches and wizards by a Kansas tornado is remarkable for excellent songs and dance numbers – all the while, telling a classic children’s story, the chemistry was perfect.

Some other favorites I hope to share with Lily when she is older is South Pacific, Singin’ In The Rain, Oklahoma, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers and of course,My Fair Lady.

It’s never to late to be a kid again.

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About Dawn Olsen

  • julia


    You might want to start her on Mickey and Judy or some of the goofier Gene Kelly movies (with Frank Sinatra, mostly). Funny Face, maybe, or the Bandwagon.