Close your eyes … no, wait, if you close your eyes, you won’t be able to read this post! Pretend your eyes are closed. I’m going to give you a line from the lyrics of a well-known musical. See if you instantly hum the melody.
“Good morning, good morning! We’ve talked the whole night through!”
What’s the next phrase? Let’s try another one.
“The hills are alive with the ….”
Did you get that one? I didn’t give you much to go on, but I’m betting you did.
What is it about musicals that grabs our spirit and won’t let go? In my childhood home, we watched Mary Poppins and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang as often as they came on television (that was pre-video days!). I fell in love with Elvis Presley as he sang, “Love me tender; love me true.” I sang along with Rodgers and Hammerstein songs from records on my phonograph.
Was it the music? The lyrics? The actors and actresses? Or maybe the dances!
Who wouldn’t want to dance with Danny Kaye and Vera-Ellen to “The Best Things Happen while You’re Dancing” in White Christmas? And when the King of Siam dances with Anna in The King and I, who doesn’t want to find a partner and say, “Shall we dance?” I dreamed of being in a musical myself someday.
Well, that’s as far as it got … a dream. I didn’t have the courage or the time.
Then, we had children … who grew up watching Mary Poppins and to whom I sang, “Someone to care for, to be there for, I have you two! Someone to do for, muddle through for, I have you two!” (In case you don’t know, this is from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.) These daughters went on to make their dreams a reality. Between having roles at local theaters, performing as a vocal group with their cousins, and creating their own drama troupe, they sang, danced, and lived the dream.
Those were some amazing years. I can still hear their young voices singing through the musicals, including newer ones. “We go together like rama lama lama ka dinga da dinga dong!” from Grease melted into “Open the gates and seize the day!” from Newsies. Choreography for the dance numbers in Gilbert and Sullivan’s Pirates of Penzance still fills my memories.
And yet, some of my fondest memories involving musicals come from … laughter!
Every time my maternal grandmother watched Whoopi Goldberg wiggle in the “Hail Holy Queen” number in Sister Act, she almost fell on the floor with her guffaws. It makes me laugh just remembering her. I would go upstairs to the apartment built onto my parents’ house just to watch the VHS with her, though I watched her and not the movie.
When she passed on her love of Singing in the Rain to our daughters, we bought the video. I thought sure it would wear out from the number of times we rewound it to watch “Make ‘Em Laugh.” And we’re not talking once each time, we’re talking three or four times with each viewing! Donald O’Connor made ‘em laugh!
During the girls’ performing years, the laughter continued. Anyone who’s seen Pirates of Penzance can testify to its hilarity. However, add to that the fact that our drama troupe lacked male actors. Enter our middle daughter’s ability to pull off male roles, and you come up with a great Frederic, the young pirate who turns 21 and realizes a whole world awaits him … with females. As the only girl in the cast who could hit the highest soprano notes, our eldest daughter played the role of Mabel … the love interest of Frederic … played by her sister! And the laughs came through many … interesting situations.
Then, they began having roles in musicals at other theaters, including two of the brides in Seven Brides for Seven Brothers. The show itself brings much laughter in its silliness, but with one teen daughter starring as the “bride” opposite a man who had daughters her age and the other teen daughter starring opposite another teen with whom she swore, “If he dares try to really kiss me (vs. a stage kiss), I’ll deck him right on stage!” … well, you can imagine the results.
And one of the later musicals saw our oldest starring as one of the two stepsisters in Cinderella, a role she hadn’t considered but fully embraced. (Right, in photo) Audience members were heard to say the two of them made the show. Stage actors are taught to hold the next lines for the audience’s laughter to die down. Well, if they’d done that, the show may have been four hours long!
So, yes, musicals play a huge part in my memories, but the laughter … it truly makes the heart glad!
What musicals ring out in your memories? Did you have a favorite? Were you ever in one? Please consider sharing your musical memories with us.
6 thoughts on “Tell Me a Story about … Musicals!”
The Music Man holds a special place in my heart since I played a part in high school as one of the band who played terrible music. Does that seem to say something about my flute playing? The other part I had was as the saloon girl in Paint Your Wagon. My mother made me several costumes, very modest considering the part. My favorite musical, however, is The Sound of Music. Nice post, Cathy.
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Thank you for sharing, Sandy. It’s so nice to hear from you! I miss you and the critique group. Thanks for the compliment, as well. I’m happy to be back to blogging, though posting photos still drives me bonkers. It’s part of why it took me so long to get back to it. It’s not easy to find photos that are copyright-free, and my photos aren’t very good. When I can use one of Faith’s, I’m delighted, but since she went and got married, she’s not available to take the ones I need. LOL! Blessings!
Ahhh, musicals. Love them! I grew up on Rogers and Hammerstein, my favorites being Oklahoma and Carousel. My freshman year I got to be in the chorus for our production of Oklahoma. Maybe my best memory of all of high school. I could dance and sing without having to be in the spotlight. I loved The Sound of Music which is one of the answers you were asking for …. the hills are alive…. The other I think was Meet Me in St. Lous but I wasn’t sure on that one. As a teenager, Grease was the word….. Haha. But really, I loved the movie and saw it over and over again. Two of my sons got into high school and community drama and musicals. In fact my oldest son Tim, met his future wife on the stage of a musical production of A Christmas Carol, where he played Young Scrooge and she was Belle. Years later, he proposed to her on that same stage and they’ve been married now for 18 years and have 4 kids, who also are into musicals. My oldest grandchild, Michael, played in Shrek, the musical. My mom was in drama in high school too. Not musicals but plays. She even went to drama school in Chicago after high school wanting to be an actress. She studied at the Goodman Theater there. She wound up getting married and then didn’t continue to pursue it any further. So, it’s kind of all in the family, you could say! How in the world I ever wound up married to someone who hates musicals, only God knows, lol. He loves movies and enjoys plays, but can’t stand when people sing to each other. Says it isn’t normal. Haha. Well, to each his own, but I certainly love them. Thanks for the memories 🙂 (oh, that’s a song!)
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Wow, Julie, it sure is “all in the family” for you! Ours started with me. My dad was a singer, but not onstage. There is a family in our extended relatives who became country music singers that toured the country and had several records, Al and Jean Shade. And no, the line was from Singing in the Rain. LOL! I LOVE that your son proposed onstage! I always hoped that would happen to our daughters. In fact, at one time, our middle daughter and I talked about her getting married in one of the shows she wrote … for real! Wouldn’t that have been cool?! To write your own wedding ceremony into a play! (She wrote most of the shows our drama troupe did.) I also ended up married to someone who, though I know he enjoyed musicals when we first dated, decided to hate musicals now. He says it was because of our years in theater and all the stresses it can bring, but it’s sad. BTW, your two favorite musicals of Rodgers and Hammerstein? They’re my least favorites! LOL! I think it’s the violence in them. I just don’t do violence well. I’d have to say my favorite musicals are Mary Poppins and The Greatest Showman. The latter almost took Mary Poppins’ place as my favorite of all time. In fact, I may watch that one today! Our youngest daughter and I loved it so much when we saw it in theaters that we both pre-ordered the DVD! Blessings!
Oh Singing in the Rain, okay! I had a feeling I was off on that one! I watched that one start to finish last year for the first time since I was little. Really enjoyed it. But after I heard about how Gene Kelly did that famous scene in the rain with a fever of 104 I find it both amazing and I feel for how sick he must have been! I also heard actresses from the movie tell about how mean he was to them on set. That’s a shame. I guess he was just a perfectionist and intolerant of mistakes. But what a scene and such a good movie!
I’m sitting here trying to remember the violence in Oklahoma, but can’t remember it. I do remember it from Carousel. It was such a sad one so it’s hard to watch, but I love the music. Oh yes, Greatest Showman, that was wonderful. I’ve seen it about 3 times so far.
Yes you have it all in the family too and it’s too bad both our hubbies have become fuddy duddies about musicals, but then mine loves action movies and I’m not into that, so that’s how it goes. We do both like old black and white movies, especially with Jimmy Stewart, Clark Gable, Cary Grant, Barbara Stanwyck and Gary Cooper, and anything with John Wayne! I love silent movies but he doesn’t care much for them. I love Charlie Chaplin, Buster Keaton and Lillian Gish.
Well enjoy watching Greatest Showman again if you get to today 🙂
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My middle daughter, the one who wrote the plays/musicals, would love you for how you love the old silent movies. Her favorite was Buster Keaton! And Kevin also loves shoot-’em-up’bang-’em-up movies … and I don’t. We are two peas in a pod! I knew it from the time of Julie Garmon’s blog. 🙂