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, and Oliver!

I’ve watched thirty-nine musicals in the span of nine months (atypical behavior for me), per the requirements of the experiment. In accordance with my plan to stay sane through newness and variety, I’ve been viewing a) four musicals from each decade b) that I’ve never seen before c) in chronological order. Post-Into the Woods, I completed that side quest, and now I’ll be viewing whatever the hell musicals I feel like until the end of the year, and let me tell you, I need to get loose with it, because the Nineties to today were boooring.

Is she singing or yawning?

There were outliers, to be sure, but they were either irreverent and quirky like Cannibal! and Hedwig, or bright poppy kiddie fare like Frozen and Annie. So where’s the big, classic musical loved by critics and audiences alike made in the last 25 years? Not on this list, and I also submit as the reason for half of this list: a little flick called Chicago.

Be careful, ladies, you might take out a genre with those things!

It’s my belief that Chicago single-handedly revived and killed the musical, except the cutoff for musicals it revived is just Chicago itself. You see, I didn’t watch Chicago for this project because I’ve already seen it (and loved it), which says something since the blog’s whole premise is that I haven’t seen many musicals, yet I made time for this one back in the day. We didn’t give a shit about singing and dancing in our Nineties movies, Moulin Rouge! came out in 2001 but was too bizarre to call a “traditional” musical, then Chicago exploded in 2002, won all the awards including Best Picture, people were dressing like the Twenties, nobody shut the fuck up about it, and Hollywood immediately needed to make fifty more Chicagos. Which they have been doing from 2002 to now, but without that whole “legitimately attempting to adapt Broadway for the big screen in a competent and engaging way” part. Nope, all that really matters is they took a thing with brand recognition and pushed it into cinemas, so we get wet farts like Rent and Into the Woods with little appeal to anyone except the fanbases that adored them onstage but begrudgingly own the DVDs.


So anyway, no, I did not enjoy three months of Hollywood try to perfect the magic of Chicago by farting on me.

In my last quarterly report, I told you about the phenomenon of West Side Snappin’, my tendency to involuntarily snap my fingers whenever a song I was listening to in my headphones matched the tempo of my walking.

WSS Snap

Named after that famous musical Romeo and Juliet Take Manhattan.

Well, the WSS continued to afflict me several times in July and August, enough that I won’t list each snap sesh, but trust me, so many. The result I didn’t expect, however, was on August 17th, when I began… improvising a song in my kitchen all about how my life has been going lately. For five whole minutes. Before I realized, “Oh, fuck, I guess that’s going in the blog.” And now it has!

Frozen Let It Gooooo

If you’re curious, the song was like “Let It Go” minus the letting it go part.

Also, in September I took a trip to New York City, and it hadn’t really occurred to me before that several of the films I watched this year take place there. I got many songs stuck in my head whenever a location reminded me of The Broadway Melody or On the Town or West Side Story or Fame or Annie. Heck, I caught myself humming “42nd Street” on 42nd Street before I’d even seen 42nd Street (I’d heard the tune somewhere before). Most importantly of all, though, I messaged Cinemanaut John when I passed a building from Rent, and he had the perfect response.

Sadly, I did not have enough newfound passion for NYC-based musicals to take pictures of me snapping in the West Side or wearing a sailor suit in front of Rockefeller Center, but mostly because my priorities were focused around more culturally significant films.

Look, it’s Clamp Center from Gremlins 2: The New Batch!

Paint Your Wagon (1969)