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Staff Picks: Favourite Movie Musicals Of All Time

Author DanielDaniel, April 10th, 2024

From Screen To Stage, or Stage To Screen; here are TL's Favorite Movie Musicals!

In cinema's evolving landscape, the movie musical has had its ebbs and flows of popularity. Many think of it as a relic of the golden age of Hollywood, but for others, the art form continues to break down the walls of what is expected of classic narrative storytelling within film. At its worst, musicals can be seen as cheesy cringe-inducing releases allowing visual and audio flair to overshadow any real meaning. Yet when musicals are done right, they serve the viewer with new dimensions to characters and allow fans to continue experiencing the movie throughout their lives via song. A good movie musical can entertain and move like no other.

From timeless classics to bold new interpretations, the genre continues to captivate audiences with its infectious energy and boundless creativity. With a recent resurgence in movie musicals (Tick Tick Boom, Mean Girls, A Star Is Born) the modern audience is warming back to the idea that song and dance have a place within cinema. Whether it was born on the screen and transferred to the stage, or vice versa, we asked our Theatreland team what their favorite movie musical was, and why! Read below to find out what was picked.

THEATRELANDS PICKS:

KEVIN - GREASE

This musical romantic comedy was released in 1978 and was an instant global hit. Starring John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John, the film charmed audiences with its nostalgic portrayal of 1950s high school life and catchy musical numbers. With the legendary musical back of forth between Danny Zuko and Sandy Olsson, Grease's soundtrack became the 2nd biggest-selling album of the entire year. Nominated for Golden Globes and Academy Awards, Grease is one of the most iconic movies, visually and sonically, in the entire genre.

'Grease is one of those moments where the stars aligned. Timeless and nostalgic, it ticks every box for a musical: it's bold, it's bright, it's fun and it makes you want to join in. It helps that the music is exceptional too. Frankie Valli's "Grease" is a banger, "Born To Hand Jive" is the best party starter there is, and Olivia Newton-John's "Hopelessly Devoted To You" is simply the perfect ballad. Sing a song from Grease to someone, and they're sure to sing the words back to you' - Kevin

SCARLET - PHANTOM OF THE OPERA

Released in 2004, "The Phantom of the Opera" is a musical drama directed by Joel Schumacher. Starring Gerard Butler, Emmy Rossum, and Patrick Wilson, the film mesmerized audiences with its lavish production design and hauntingly beautiful music. Adapted from Andrew Lloyd Webber's iconic stage musical, the film transports viewers to the grandeur of 19th-century Paris, where a mysterious masked composer lurks beneath the opera house. The film's enduring popularity has inspired numerous stage productions and continues to captivate audiences around the world, although ending this year, Phantom Of The Opera had previously been the longest-running Broadway show ever, totaling 13,981 performances.

'My younger years were spent eating microwave nachos after school on a Friday, at my best friend's house, and without fail, we'd have Phantom of the Opera. You'd hear us testing out our vocal cords terribly whilst pretending we were Christine Daae and The Phantom. It's a phase you'll proudly never grow out of, nor will you ever grow out of love with The Phantom of the Opera.' - Scarlet

KITTY - CABARET

Released in 1972, "Cabaret" is a musical drama directed by Bob Fosse. Starring Liza Minnelli, Michael York, and Joel Grey, the film captivated audiences with its enthralling performances and provocative storyline set in 1930s Berlin. The film quickly garnered critical acclaim, winning eight Academy Awards, including Best Director and Best Actress. Its exploration of societal decadence and political upheaval resonated deeply with audiences, cementing its reputation as a cinematic and musical masterpiece. The film's enduring legacy led to numerous stage adaptations, with its run at the Kit Kat Club still currently playing.

'Titillating and intoxicating, Cabaret draws you in with show-stopping numbers and performances, before punching you in the gut, becoming a powerful cry to never take anything for granted. It remains as prescient as ever.' - Kitty

DANIEL - SCHOOL OF ROCK

Released in 2003, School Of Rock is a musical comedy directed by Richard Linklater. Starring Jack Black, Sarah Silverman, Joan Cusack, and a baby-faced Miranda Cosgrove - the movie became an instant hit and was the highest-grossing musical comedy until 2015's Pitch Perfect 2. Andrew Lloyd Webber bought the stage rights in 2013 leading to the smash hit Broadway musical adaption of the film.

"As a fan of rock music from a very young age, this movie connected to me in a way no other did during my adolescence. Not only is it a gut-busting hilarious feel-good movie, but the songs throughout still play on repeat in my head 20 years later. From Teachers Pet' to Legend Of The Rent', the School Of Rock will always have a special place in my heart". - Daniel

SAADIQAH - LION KING

The Lion King, a 1994 Disney animated feature musical film, roars with a majestic blend of music, heartwarming storytelling, and breathtaking visuals. Composed by Hans Zimmer, the soundtrack is a symphony of creativity, it weaves together African rhythms, orchestral melodies, and soul-stirring vocals. Elton John and Tim Rice's enchanting songs, including "Circle of Life" and "Hakuna Matata," are still referred to as some of the greatest musical numbers of all time, transcending the movie alone. The musical debuted in 1997 and remains a staple of the theatre world for all ages.

Since I can remember, I've been a massive fan of Disney movies, especially The Lion King. I recall my whole family gathering to watch the original movie, and there wasn't a moment when we weren't dancing, singing, and occasionally shedding a tear or two. The musical makes me feel at home; it's a film that resonates with everyone and remains timeless. I still watch it to this day. And let's not forget the iconic songs written by Elton John, such as "Circle Of Life", "Can You Feel The Love Tonight", "I Just Can't Wait To Be King", and many more.' - Saadiqah

(Photo by Kyle Head on Unsplash)

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