Musical 52

Watch 52 musicals, one every week, in 2015.

The Broadway Melody, Gold Diggers of 1933, Top Hat, The Great Ziegfeld, Show Boat (1936), Road to Singapore, Anchors Aweigh, State Fair (1945), On the Town, Annie Get Your Gun, Singin’ in the Rain, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, South Pacific, West Side Story, The Music Man, My Fair Lady, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, Fiddler on the Roof, 1776, Tommy, Hair, Fame (1980), The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas, Yentl, A Chorus Line, Cry-Baby, Evita, Cannibal! The Musical, Everyone Says I Love You, Hedwig and the Angry Inch, Rent, Dreamgirls, Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, Frozen, Les Misérables, Annie (2014), Into the Woods, 42nd Street, Oliver!, Paint Your Wagon, Kiss Me Kate, Funny Face, The Wiz, Bye Bye Birdie, Road to Morocco, Footlight Parade, High School Musical 3: Senior Year, Shock Treatment, High Society, Take Me Out to the Ball Game, White Christmas, and Brigadoon.

I’ve watched fifty-two musicals in the span of a year (atypical behavior for me), per the requirements of the experiment. For the first three quarters, in an attempt to retain my sanity, I watched a) four musicals from each decade b) that I’ve never seen before c) in chronological order, but for the last quarter, I just watched whatever the hell I felt like. And usually what I felt like was something left over in a musical box set or anything I could find on Netflix.

Ball Game

Sure, that’ll do.

I tended to stay in the pre-Eighties era of cinema for the rest of the experiment, as we as a society really had no idea what to do with musicals after that. And I think I made the right choice, as I saw some really good movies! Still, it’s more fun to write about bad ones, as I discovered when I teamed up with Cinemanaut John for High School Musical 3: Senior Year.

Terrible musical, terrible Disney movie.

Yeah, so… good times. With movies! Even Shock Treatment.


I can’t believe I own this forever now.

When you watch 52 musicals you’ve never seen before, a startling result occurs: you now know a lot more about musicals. On October 26th, 2015, I joined Cinemanaut John for his viewing of College Road Trip, a bad Disney movie which features a character played by Donny Osmond who’s obsessed with musicals. He frequently breaks into song, but the writers also hid some lyrics in his dialogue that I never would have caught before this project, such as when he embarks on a trip to New York by saying he’s about to “shuffle off to Buffalo,” a reference to the song of the same name from 42nd Street. So, the next time somebody says this year of my life has been worthless, I can say, “Oh yeah? Then explain my newfound appreciation for the writing in College Road Trip!”


If you’re curious about my battle against the phenomenon I call West Side Snappin’, you should know that I am continuing to snap my fingers whenever I walk and listen to music at the same time. Except… now I’m doing it without walking. Or listening to music. Honestly, I’ve stopped keeping track. Musicals make you aware of tempos constantly; I guess I’m just in a snap happy mood all the damn time now.

WSS Snap

Please let this one wear off by next year.

Oh, by the way, the rules of this experiment never explicitly stated that I couldn’t watch musicals I had already seen, but I figured fresh new movies would be the best way to keep things interesting. And yet, I went above the call of duty with some extra musicals; on November 12th, I watched Aladdin and Frozen, and on December 11th, I watched The Little Mermaid. What I find particularly noteworthy about these choices is that I watched them with Cinemanaut John, on nights when we were just shooting the shit and looking for something to watch, and I think they were scratching an itch for both of us. Was I tired of musicals that weren’t familiar? Was John sick of watching terrible Disney movies and needed some of the studio’s best work for a change? Or are those just great movies, period?

That was rhetorical, you’re damn right Mermaid is gold.

And lastly, on December 3rd… I dreamed I was in a Superman musical. Specifically, I was Superman, and I was singing about the struggles of my Supermanly life. It wasn’t on a stage or a film set, I was just, you know, Superman, in one of those musical worlds where breaking into song is normal. I can’t remember the words to each tune, but I seemed to be making up original lyrics on the spot. In a cape.

Yes, I’m aware there’s an actual musical about Superman,
but I’ve never seen it, onstage or the made-for-TV version.

Just because this is my final quarterly report for the Musical 52 experiment, let’s look at the predictions I made in my hypothesis before this whole thing started and see what I got right.

  1. I said songs would get stuck in my head. CHECK. For a while it was simply numbers from the previous week’s film, but if a real stinker went by, all the tunes would come flooding back.
  2. I said I might dance more. A VERY SMALL CHECK. I’d catch myself grooving here and there, but for the most part, no, I kept to my usual amount of dancing. (This data may be skewed by a severe foot injury that affected my movement during most of the year, though. Also, does snapping count?)
  3. I said I would be more cheerful. MIDDLING TO NOT AT ALL. It should be noted that this year my happiness was affected by the aforementioned severe foot injury, two break-ups, and moving twice. Once again, the data is skewed. Also, the typical joy of musicals was fairly muffled by the fact that it can be an irritatingly formulaic genre.
  4. I said I would probably watch more than 52 musicals. TECHNICALLY CORRECT. While I did fit Aladdin, Frozen, and The Little Mermaid in before the end of the year, my prediction was something more on par with the time I watched over 150 time travel movies. If anything, I may just be more open to watching musicals in the future.
  5. I said I would have musical dreams. YUP. Well, I had exactly one, and I was half joking at the time, but it happened, so up, up, and away.

Nope, the journey does not continue. We’re done here! I’ve just gotta write a recap of the last four years of my life and then that’s a wrap on Cinema 52! Nice.