The Great Hollywood Musicals-Then & Now:Part 1

4 Jul

In celebration of America’s Independence here’s a Musical Tribute.

By Littlebells

I have a secret lover.  My lover and I have been together for about two decades.  My spouse knew about this crazy love affair but still decided to marry me. He thinks it’s odd and thinks I have strange taste, but he likes that I’m happy.  He accepts that I will be forever truly and deeply in love with great Hollywood musicals.


The first film musical was the 1927s The Jazz Singer. It was the only one that year and came at a time when studios were crossing over from silent films to talkies.  With the use of the Vitaphone (sound on disk), sound was synchronized into the film.  The Jazz Singer was only part-talkie. It used only 25% of sound synchronization, vocals, and accompaniment.[1]

When audiences saw this movie in theaters, many searched around for the person because back then someone HAD to be singing live for them to hear it. None ever expected “talkies” to take off and of course the rest is history. In 1952,  Singin’ in the Rain paid homage to The Jazz Singer when Donald O’connor’s character Cosmo Brown responds about talking pictures not amounting to anything with the famous line, “That’s what they said about the horseless carriage.”[2]

In 1929 Metro-Goldwyn-Meyer produced The Broadway Melody. They were the first studio to incorporate sound editing and pre-recorded soundtracks.  The musical was a hit and won the Oscar. It advertised “All-singing, all-dancing, all-talking![3]  Its success opened the floodgates for future Hollywood musicals.

The Golden Age

Once the Great Depression began, movie going was on the decline. Audiences wanted happy endings and fun loving movies to take them away from their sorrows.  The economy also provided major studios to get creative with their production and costs.[4]

Not only did studios have to swim upstream with the economy, but they also had to find ways to abide by the Production Code (PC) of 1930.  Due to off-screen scandals, the code was set up to censor film content.  Along with no profanity or nudity, screen kisses had to be close-mouthed and were limited to six seconds, Whenever two characters embraced, at least one of them had to keep at least one foot on the floor, and Such words as broad, pregnant, Lord and hold your hat  were prohibited.  These are just a few laws under the (PC).[5]

As studios got more confident with musicals everything seemed to get better.  The sets were more elaborate, the costumes spectacular, the songs charming and catchy, the dancing entertaining, and the actors were untouchable.  The production numbers were large ensembles that provided perfect execution.

The most prosperous years of the Hollywood musicals were between 1930 and 1953. This was known as the Golden Age.  Of the movie studios, Metro-Goldwyn-Meyer was the one that catapulted to the top of musical filmmaking.  They had difficulties in the beginning, just like their competitors, but once they got all the pieces put together they were known for nurturing and showcasing their performers, choreographers, and directors.[6]

Despite MGM’s success, Warner Bros., and RKO* also had terrific hits:

The Broadway Melody (1929 MGM)

42nd Street (1933 MGM)

Swing Time (1936 RKO)

Shall We Dance (1937 RKO)

The Wizard of Oz (1939 MGM)

Strike Up the Band (1940 MGM)

Royal Wedding (1951 MGM)

An American in Paris (1951 MGM)

Singin’ in the Rain (1952 MGM)[7]

Hollywood musicals have continued since its origin in 1927.  The latter part of the 20th century gave us Westside Story, The Sound of Music, My Fair Lady, Mary Poppins, Hairspray, Fiddler on the Roof, Cabaret, Hello, Dolly!, Grease, and Sweet Charity, just to name a few.[8]

The Future of Hollywood Musicals

The 21st Century has had a much harder time bringing to screen the great musical.  The only true successes have been Chicago, Dream Girls, and Moulin Rouge.  Of course others have been made or remade, but they haven’t stood out. Why did these succeed and not others?

Stephen Sondheim, a great Broadway composer and lyricist, made a comment about the future of Broadway musicals, which inadvertently influence Hollywood Musicals.

You have two kinds of shows on Broadway – revivals and the same kind of musicals over and over again, all spectacles. You get your tickets for The Lion King a year in advance, and essentially a family comes as if to a picnic, and they pass on to their children the idea that that’s what the theater is – a spectacular musical you see once a year, a stage version of a movie. It has nothing to do with theater at all. It has to do with seeing what is familiar. We live in a recycled culture . . . I don’t think the theatre will die per se, but it’s never going to be what it was. You can’t bring it back. It’s gone. It’s a tourist attraction.”[9]

What does this mean about Hollywood Musicals?  Will they become obsolete? Is Hollywood lacking in the talent needed for being a triple threat?  Is there a lack of creativity?  Has society become too jaded and cynical of the light hearted and campy story line?  Have we allowed the true greats to be snubbed out because of new technology?  In many comments I’ve read and conversations I’ve had, much of the older generation repeats the same phrase over and over, “They don’t make ‘em like they used to!” I tend to believe them.

In Part 2 of The Hollywood Musicals, I will be discussing the performers, directors, and choreographers that had lasting contributions and influence.

*Other studios not listed are Paramount, Fox, Universal, and Disney. Most of these studios produced musicals in the latter part of the 20th century.

[7],51650/ and

[8] and

[9] Making Musicals: An Informal Introduction to the World of Musical Theatre (New York: Limelight Editions, 1998), pp. 84-85

177 Responses to “The Great Hollywood Musicals-Then & Now:Part 1”

  1. Littlebells July 4, 2011 at 9:54 AM #

    HAPPY 4TH OF JULY everyone!!! And in honor of our British friends ;), thank you for an great reason to have BBQs, Apple Pie, and fireworks!

    This is not a musical clip, but it’s beautiful music with a great story:

    • ozzie20 July 5, 2011 at 7:16 PM #

      Lol, you’re welcome…….I guess? 🙂

      I hope everyone had a good day! I would like to experiance a July 4th just once because I love learning about different cultures, even though I would feel a bit odd!

  2. 4string July 4, 2011 at 11:15 AM #

    I love musicals. 🙂 I don’t understand why Disney movies or comic books need to be made into a Briadway show though. Is it just because it is safe and guarantees a show’s success? Oh well. This article is more about movie musicals.

    • Littlebells July 4, 2011 at 12:30 PM #

      No, go ahead and ask whatever you want. Most of the 90s were animated musicals. And yes, they’ve taken things that weren’t Broadway material and turned them into musicals. I feel the same way. The whole Spiderman thing is stupid, imo. Especially with all the injuries and amount of money they have spent.

      So please feel free to ask whatever you want about musicals, stage or movies. 🙂

    • Littlebells July 4, 2011 at 12:33 PM #

      You know what? I didn’t answer your questions. I think it is “safe” because people are familiar with it. Also, I think it’s another way to make money, naturally. “Hey ‘blah, blah title of movie here, blah, blah was such a hit, let’s see what else we can do with it!” JMO. Seriously, if they turn Thor or CA into a musical, I’ll gag! I ALSO think there is a severe case of “lacking any creativity”.

    • Open Book July 5, 2011 at 10:53 AM #

      TBH: Hollywood practically owns Broadway. There was a Spiderman Musical that opened and did horribly rencently, they had to go back and retool it.

      Anyway, there was a time Broadway Theater influenced Hollywood. However, after the technological age and recession they really did not change fast enough to be competitive in the entertainment market. IMO!! Therefore, they had to reach out to famous film actors and film studios to keep them viable. This is why Hollywood owns Broadway.

      • Littlebells July 5, 2011 at 11:16 AM #

        You are absolutely right, OB! *waves* Hi by the way! 🙂

        I watched the Tony’s this year because I actually remembered and I was amazed at how many HW actors and actresses have taken over the stage. I am not saying screen actors shouldn’t be on stage, but I kept asking myself, “Where did the common man/woman go?” I know that there are so many struggling actors trying to get work and yet I keep seeing the big names. I KNOW there is talent out there that has not been seen that really needs to be given a chance.

        Yes, I heard all about the Spiderman debacle and even the bit they played at the Tony’s seemed really boring. I love U2, but Spiderman? Really? There is absolutely no logical reason why it should have been made a musical, imo.

        • ozzie20 July 5, 2011 at 7:24 PM #

          I don’t understand the spiderman musical either. It sounds kind of cool on paper (with U2 doing the music) but to put it into practise is not logical. I don’t think I’d want to go to a show where there’s a strong chance a really sweaty man in lycra could end up falling onto you, with his genitals near your face. That’s just Bruno/Eminem awkwardness there waiting to happen!

          • Littlebells July 6, 2011 at 3:38 AM #

            Oh my gosh! I just saw this post! OOoooo! No sweaty genitals please!!!!! 😦

  3. Open Book July 5, 2011 at 10:39 AM #

    Hi Everyone-

    For those living in the US I hope u enjoyed your holiday weekend!!

    Littlebells-What is your favorite musical of all time and why? Also, What is your favorite Musical as of late?

    For me I fell in love with musicals after seeing “Singin in the Rain” the more recent Film musicals Chicago, Moulin Rouge, Dream Girls and Sweeney Todd. I have really liked as well.

    Also, What did u think of the film Nine which came out recently?

    • Littlebells July 5, 2011 at 11:34 AM #

      Hi OB!

      Thank you! I had a great day, was completely worn out by the time I rolled into bed, and stuffed to the gills. It was fabulous! At one point, I swear someone lit 20 consecutive loud fireworks in my neighbors yard!

      Wow, my favorite musical of all time….Well I think it goes back to “Singin’ in the Rain”. That’s what started it all. You’ve got the handsome male lead (apparently I’m that shallow), talent the knocks it out of universe, great comedy, costumes (I wanted to wear every single one), and songs that stayed with you. Of course then I had to see every musical Gene Kelly was in because I was going to marry him. Apparently! haha! 🙂 I got to play Cathy Seldon a few times and I cannot tell you what a dream that was performing dances Gene Kelly, Donald O’Connor, and Debbie Reynolds got to perform! *twirling*

      I also love “On The Town” and “Sweet Charity”. I think Ann Miller definitely opened up the idea of a strong female tapper and I love Bob Fosse’s choreography.

      Here’s one of my favorite numbers in “On The Town”. It’s a bit long, but very entertaining.

      As of late, Definitely “Chicago”. My husband loved it as well. I bought the CD and played it all the time. of course I can’t find it now, so I can’t play it in the car, which is my professional singing studio. LOL! i also loved “Dream Girls”. Honestly the films you mentioned are the only ones that have been popular in the last decade.

      I did see “Nine.” I love, LOVE Daniel Day-Lewis and Marion Cotillard. I thought the music was fine, and the acting was great. Great cast! However, I didn’t enjoy it. Call me a musical puritan but I personally need some big ensemble numbers, flashy costumes, catchy tunes, and a “Happily Ever After.” Nine was too intense for me. Too serious. I would never see it again. I think musicals need the ballads to give it dimension, but this musical was just too eh for me. Plus, I’m not a huge fan of a cheating husband story line. 😦

      • Littlebells July 5, 2011 at 11:40 AM #

        Ok, my 3 year old just came in the room, watched that clip and said, “Oh she’s having fun!” yes! Thank you! You are supposed to have fun! 🙂

        • ozzie20 July 5, 2011 at 7:30 PM #

          Oow, I know this one for me (even though I still haven’t seen it all the way through)! Oklahoma! because I first stood up or walked to this!

          Apparently I was so transfixed by his voice I stood up and turned around to stare at the tv!

          • Littlebells July 5, 2011 at 7:41 PM #

            That’s awesome! And I love Shirley Jones!!!!

      • ozzie20 July 5, 2011 at 7:59 PM #

        Just watched the Prehistoric clip, I love the dancing at the end and I want her green dress.

        *sighs* they don’t tend to make them like that anymore. Beautiful!

        • Littlebells July 6, 2011 at 3:39 AM #

          Exactly my point. They don’t and there are a lot of people who feel the same way.

  4. comic relief July 5, 2011 at 11:22 AM #

    Great article Littlebells!!!!

    • Littlebells July 5, 2011 at 11:35 AM #

      Thanks CR!

  5. Littlebells July 5, 2011 at 6:46 PM #

    Hi everyone! I’m so excited about this discussion and I think I’m prepared to answer any and all questions. Hopefully you will be able to answer mine as well. I just stumbled across this article Open Book, and I think it is very appropriate with what you mentioned about Hollywood owning Broadway. I will talk more about this in our discussion:

    • Open Book July 5, 2011 at 7:00 PM #

      Hi LB!

      How are u? Let me read and get caught up!

  6. ozzie20 July 5, 2011 at 7:02 PM #

    I am here, all! Great article, LB! Must catch up with the comments though…

    • Open Book July 5, 2011 at 7:08 PM #

      Hi Ozzie!

      What’s your favorite film Musical?

      • ozzie20 July 5, 2011 at 7:33 PM #

        Lol, part of my answer is above but now I like loads more! I quite like The King & I, disney etc, etc, etc! 🙂

  7. Littlebells July 5, 2011 at 7:04 PM #

    Hi!!!!! 🙂

  8. Open Book July 5, 2011 at 7:07 PM #

    Well I just read the artcle u posted LB about Film Actors vs Stage actors?

    Why do u think films actors have taken over Broadway?

    • Littlebells July 5, 2011 at 7:15 PM #

      Well I honestly don’t know, but these are my assumptions: I think the economy has made people really think about what they want to spend their money on. If they are like me, they don’t want to waste their money. If the show has a famous actor in it, “Well then it must be good!” right???

      Shoot, I had another idea, but it left my brain. I’ll come back to this….

      • Open Book July 5, 2011 at 7:26 PM #

        I think u brought up another great point. MONEY! A movie is alot cheaper then a Broadway Theater ticket. Plus television and film gives actors that added boost of familarity for the average consumer. I have seen many very talented stage actors who could run rings around a film actor but when it comes to popularity film and television it’s hard to compete.

        • Littlebells July 5, 2011 at 7:28 PM #

          And thats just not right!

  9. Open Book July 5, 2011 at 7:19 PM #

    IMO the reason HW has taken over Broadway? It might make some people angry but this is only MO. To me American theater producers lost touch with American audiences in the late 80’s for not producing works that the average consumer could relate too. Also, American Theater has always had problems with diversity. Plus once the Internet took root in the 90’s AT was seeing a rapid decline in attendance. So IMO HW and film actors saved Brodaway.

    • Littlebells July 5, 2011 at 7:23 PM #

      I’m not disagreeing with you at all. I think HW has kept theater alive, but I just wonder about those that are doing musicals who don’t really have any talent in that department.

      • Open Book July 5, 2011 at 8:03 PM #

        LB I think In the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s actors could more easily transition from theater to film without a hickup! Look at Barbara Striesand, Al Pacino and Carol Burnett to name a few….

        Anyway, I think Francesa broungt up a good point many film actors look at Theater as a way to strenthgen their craft. I think today stage actors and film actors need to be willing to do both to stay vialble. IMO!

  10. Littlebells July 5, 2011 at 7:21 PM #

    Most of the shows on Broadway that have famous HW actors are straight theater. I don’t know if there are as many in the musicals. I don’t have problems with an actor from HW who has a musical theater foundation, but when they have never been trained or aren’t the best at singing or dancing, I don’t give a crap who you are, you shouldn’t be up there!!!

    I’ve often wondered if the lack of being a triple threat is vanishing. Going back to “Chicago”, Catherine Zeta-Jones has a background in musical theater. Queen Latifah is a singer. But Renee had never danced or sung and really neither had Richard Gere. I”m not saying they were bad, but why not pick actors who do have that background?

    In “Dream Girls” Beyonce, Jennifer Hudson, and Jaimee Fox all have music backgrounds, so I bought into it. Moulin Rouge was fine for me because it wasn’t a stage production turned into a film and despite the performers not having a background in music or dancing, they were great.

    I guess my question is, where has all the talent gone? Do you think there is talent out there that is equivalent to what we had in the 30s, 40s, 50s, and 60s?

    • Open Book July 5, 2011 at 7:33 PM #

      I think there is a ton of multi talented performers but not everyone can be easily marketed to the American audiences. I don’t know how to say this but not everyone has mass appeal accross the board. Meaning some people are excellent on stage but when they try and make the transition to film? It can be a bit too much. Does that make sense?

      • Littlebells July 5, 2011 at 7:35 PM #

        I get what you are saying. I think I hold my standard very high with the greats like Gene Kelly, Fred Astaire, Ann Miller, Vera-Ellen….I expect everyone to be just as talented. I need to work on that.

      • ozzie20 July 5, 2011 at 7:39 PM #

        Lol, I understand! You’ve got to reach out to the people at the back of the theatre. With film, well the camera is practically in your face! I guess it can be hard to tone it down.

        It sounds odd but it works kind of the same with stage school taught dancers vs just an ordinary taught dancer. I can always tell, lol! It’s in their faces!

  11. Littlebells July 5, 2011 at 7:23 PM #

    If I offend anyone, my apologies! I just want to see good material. 🙂

    • ozzie20 July 5, 2011 at 7:49 PM #

      I didn’t think you did unless I missed a post again, lol!

  12. Littlebells July 5, 2011 at 7:29 PM #

    I’m bringing these questions over from the article: Is Hollywood lacking in the talent needed for being a triple threat? Is there a lack of creativity as far as musicals? Has society become too jaded and cynical of the light hearted and campy story line?

    • Open Book July 5, 2011 at 7:45 PM #

      Well with film, reality TV etc…. Realism is the genre we are in. The more realistic a movie can be, the better. However, I think the Musical genre needs to evolve. Campy was o.k.up until the 70’s. But now it just won’t work. IMO!!! Eventhough u would not consider some of these films musicals they are. Saturday Night Fever, Purple Rain & Lady Sings the Blues and audiences loved them. Rent was made into a film and it tanked at the box office. Why do u think that is?

      • Littlebells July 5, 2011 at 7:51 PM #

        What is RENT about again? Is it a somewhat happy musical or slightly depressing? I can better answer your question with that info.

        • Open Book July 5, 2011 at 8:05 PM #

          Here’s a video

        • Open Book July 5, 2011 at 8:09 PM #

          Sorry! I did not answer your Q. It’s a bit depressing!

  13. Francesa July 5, 2011 at 7:31 PM #

    Hello…trying to get caught up with comments

    • Open Book July 5, 2011 at 7:34 PM #

      Hi Francesa!

      • ozzie20 July 5, 2011 at 7:40 PM #

        Hello Francesa!

  14. Francesa July 5, 2011 at 7:34 PM #

    What about HW actors doing stage to be taken more serious? To show more range?

    • Littlebells July 5, 2011 at 7:37 PM #

      HI Francesa! I think you are very correct. I think many want to develop greater range with their craft. As a former performer, I just think of all those who spend years trying to make it, who have the talent, but nothing really comes of it because they aren’t given the opportunity because they don’t have a big name.

      • ozzie20 July 5, 2011 at 7:47 PM #

        Yes, I was just about to say that myself. I think with younger stars like Daniel Radcliffe, it’s kind of a good way to educate and further yourself as an actor. I can understand that of older actors who are new to the business too but I think I few definately go with trying to get a “serious” reputation. In my opinion, it should be about whether you are genuine for the piece of art your working on. I think you have to be fully dedicated to bringing that work to life rather than a more synical career boosting view. Yes, it would help your career (if you do well of course) but it’s always better when you are watching someone who really cares for the art. And I’m stopping there before I repeat myself! Rambling on again….:)

  15. Francesa July 5, 2011 at 7:40 PM #

    I don’t know if it is really lacking talent, but maybe quality scripts? Whether it is an adaptation or original. With the whole CGI bombardment, catering to a younger demographic, and making the most money in the shortest period of time, true movie making on a whole seems lost. Not that I do not like the technology, but use it properly.

  16. Francesa July 5, 2011 at 7:42 PM #

    LB..Do you think that is because stage to hw does not translate as well as hw to stage?

    • Littlebells July 5, 2011 at 7:49 PM #

      Well I often wonder if HW musicals aren’t as popular with the younger generations because 1) how do you top the greats and 2) most of them have never been exposed to them before so they think they are too cheesy.

      To answer your question though, I think HW to stage is more difficult. There is no stopping to fix something. You have to be “on” for at least two hours and give it 100% every single time. It’s more work. I’m not saying HW can’t do it, but if they’ve never done theater before and then jump into it, it’s a completely different beast.

  17. Littlebells July 5, 2011 at 7:44 PM #

    Ok, to get things upbeat again, Francesa, do you have a favorite musical?

  18. Francesa July 5, 2011 at 7:46 PM #

    I really like Sound of Music…My mom used to put it on when i was sick and found it very soothing. I still put it on if I am feeling under the weather, regardless of the reason. LOL

    • Littlebells July 5, 2011 at 7:49 PM #

      What’s your favorite number? 🙂 I love that one too and always pretended I was Leisel! hahaha!!!

      • ozzie20 July 5, 2011 at 8:04 PM #

        *sighs* This taking me back to my pre-teens. We used to sing all these (musicals) things in our music lessons. Plus the Carpenter’s and Elvis Presley but I suspect that was the teachers doing and not the lesson plan!

        I know it’s cheesy but how about Bugsy Malone? I used to know every song on that. My school seemed to like putting that show on every year but when it came to my year they changed it. BOO!

        • Littlebells July 5, 2011 at 8:09 PM #

          Carpenter’s Rock!

          • ozzie20 July 5, 2011 at 8:34 PM #

            Lol, I got it at home too! My Mum is a Carpenter’s fan. I used to play all her old records!

    • Open Book July 5, 2011 at 8:11 PM #

      Sound of Music! Love it…… I’.m singing it now. LOL!

  19. Francesa July 5, 2011 at 7:53 PM #

    Climb every Mountain or Favorite things

    I think one of my favorite broadway shows is Les Mis, i have seen it so many times but still cry and love the song Master of the House

    • Littlebells July 5, 2011 at 7:58 PM #

      I just got the chills listening and of course upon hearing the music my kids ran in and started squaking with the ensemble! THIS is talent and if they were ever to make another Les Mis movie with actual singing, I would rather take unknown actors who can sing the pants of off the audience than well knowns who are so-so.

      • Open Book July 5, 2011 at 8:16 PM #

        This is great!

  20. Littlebells July 5, 2011 at 8:00 PM #

    (I’m sorry, I am a youtube hussy at the moment)

    • Littlebells July 5, 2011 at 8:03 PM #

      • ozzie20 July 5, 2011 at 8:20 PM #

        That brings a tear to my eye!

        • Littlebells July 5, 2011 at 8:27 PM #

          I KNOW!!! I started crying within 4 seconds….

      • Parisienne July 5, 2011 at 9:00 PM #

        I LOVE U LITTLEBELLS! I have a teensy crush on Michael Ball. 🙂 This is just great. I just danced around the room. LOL

    • Open Book July 5, 2011 at 8:08 PM #


      Love it…………………………

  21. Francesa July 5, 2011 at 8:03 PM #

    ITA..I have never seen the movie version only the stage. I will need to add that to my netflix list.

    I also love love love Phantom of the Opera. I was fortunate enough to see it on London as well as Sydney. There is no comparison with respects to those 2 venues and performers and the state side versions. Those 2 venues were unbelievable in all respects. The US just couldn’t come close.

    • Littlebells July 5, 2011 at 8:07 PM #

      I’m not a huge fan of the Les Mis movie because there is no music!!! I wouldn’t waste my time if I were you. I’m listening to “I Dreamed a Dream” right now….

  22. ozzie20 July 5, 2011 at 8:07 PM #

    Would you count La Vie En Rose a musical? Marion Cotillard

    • ozzie20 July 5, 2011 at 8:07 PM #

      Sorry! Marrion Cotillard was excellent in it.

      • Open Book July 5, 2011 at 8:13 PM #

        Yes! It’s a Musical

        • ozzie20 July 5, 2011 at 8:32 PM #

          Brilliant! I loved that and I’d recomend it to anyone.

    • Littlebells July 5, 2011 at 8:11 PM #

      I would think so since her music was the focus of her career and they certainly used it in the film.

      Francesa, Phantom of the Opera again is wonderful, but the latest movie bombed. Yeah, I didn’t really like it either. Where’s Paris???? She loves this musical too!

      • ozzie20 July 5, 2011 at 8:24 PM #

        Oh, I have some fond memories of that too! And Cats! Just when I think I’m boring and I’ve never seen most all the way through, I realised the songs have brought back lovely memories from me singing or dancing to them as a child, and there are alot of songs I know well even though I may not know the show.

        • Littlebells July 5, 2011 at 8:25 PM #

          I think musicals have a huge influence on nostalgia! 🙂

          • ozzie20 July 5, 2011 at 8:31 PM #

            Yes, your right!

      • Parisienne July 5, 2011 at 8:40 PM #

        I liked the film version except for the masquerade number because of the b&w costumes.

    • Parisienne July 5, 2011 at 8:35 PM #

      Marion Cotillard was excellent. Its a great film.

  23. Open Book July 5, 2011 at 8:15 PM #

    what are some of the worst musicals u have seen?

    • Littlebells July 5, 2011 at 8:21 PM #

      Well, let’s see….um…I don’t know! I don’t think I’ve seen a worse one, just don’t like many.

      • Littlebells July 5, 2011 at 8:26 PM #

        You know I know I have seen some crappy musicals, but I think my brain automatically deleted them! haha!!!

        • ozzie20 July 5, 2011 at 8:35 PM #

          Lol, I think that’s my brains responce too!

    • Parisienne July 5, 2011 at 8:36 PM #

      Has anyone seen Shrek? I won’t sit through it. Why must every hit movie be made into a musical? Just because it was a hit with audiences in theaters does not mean it will be a hit on broadway.

  24. Littlebells July 5, 2011 at 8:16 PM #

    OB, thank you for the clip! Ok, well the stage version came out in 1996 and the movie came out in 2005. If you go by what was happening in the world during both years, maybe we would find our answer as to why the movie flopped. Speaking for myself, I don’t want to watch a musical and leave somewhat depressed. I want to run home, put on my dancing shoes, grab my hair brush and start re-enacting the film! 🙂

    • Open Book July 5, 2011 at 8:20 PM #

      ITA! LB…..

      U know alot of actors from the origianl stage production appeared in the film. Do u think that had something to do with it?

      • Littlebells July 5, 2011 at 8:24 PM #

        I would hope not. If you’ve got the talent, the movie should be successful. I’ve seen plenty of movies where I’ve never seen the actor but was completely blown away by their talent. I just think, and I stress “think” very loosely, that most people who see musicals, love musicals, and have grown up on the classics. Anything depressing is well, “shoot, that sucks.”

        I remember seeing Hairspray in theaters and my friend was in hysterics because I was seriously be-bopping in my seat. I honestly don’t know how well it did BO wise, but boy did I have a blast! I went and saw it 2 more times just to get down with my bad self. I came home and downloaded a lot of the tunes.

  25. Francesa July 5, 2011 at 8:19 PM #

    Why do you think the stage do so well, but when they are made into movies they do not fare so well?

    • ozzie20 July 5, 2011 at 8:29 PM #

      The intimacy of the theatre maybe? You experiance the real and powerful atmosphere created by the cast and crew. I could go on about it on a physics level but most people find it boring, lol!

      • Littlebells July 5, 2011 at 8:31 PM #

        No, go on! Talk please! I totally get what you are saying and I think HW should take these things into consideration.

        • ozzie20 July 5, 2011 at 8:37 PM #

          This maybe long and I’ll try to be as simple as possible. I also have to search a dusty archive in my brain!

          • Open Book July 5, 2011 at 8:47 PM #

            This is going to be great!!! Ozzie is on the move……..LOL!!

            • ozzie20 July 5, 2011 at 9:30 PM #

              *bows* I hope I don’t disappoint. Sorry for derailing the topic too!

          • ozzie20 July 5, 2011 at 8:59 PM #

            This is knowledge from 7 or 8 years ago so I’m a bit rusty!

            Part one!

            Ok, so everything around us (including ourselves) are made of atoms and we’re all connected (this is getting into the string theory and that can become complicated so just remember we’re all connected!).

            These atoms are constantly moving or vibrating (again even in our bodies, this is important!). When you play an instrument there’s a pressure wave that moves the atoms in the air . They ripple out like the waves when you drop a stone into water, hense the term sound waves.

            Now these waves ripple out and are absorbed by whatever they hit. If it’s too dense or solid of an object it will bounce back (an echo) but a tiny amount will be absorbed.

            So, we’re sitting in a theatre listening to music or singing. That sound wave will ripple out and us as humans will experiance an absorbtion (albeit very tiny) and that will in turn cause our atoms to excite and vibrate. It has a physical effect on us at a moleculer level.

            Okay push that to one side. Part two coming up!

            • ozzie20 July 5, 2011 at 9:12 PM #

              Part two.

              We can not 100% sythesis a true soundwave (may have changed since I studied it but not likely, we’re talking minute level here!) So you can record every single note on a piano, make a song out of it but when you play it back on the speaker, that soundwave will not match 100% of the original sound wave the piano would make (it works the same way for any instrument).

              So basically a computer can not recreate 100% the same sound wave as the actual instrument but it can get pretty dam close so you can still feel that energy. The air pressure and atoms are still being vibrated from the speaker, you pick them up and you stil respond to it. You still enjoy the music! But there is a tiny difference between live and recorded!

              Ok, bringing it all together!

              • Littlebells July 5, 2011 at 9:19 PM #

                Oh my freaking gosh I love you so much right now. I totally visualized you in a white lab coat, hair in a bun, wearing your thick black glasses, pointing to a 1950s sketch of “this” on your blackboard. hahahahahaha!!!!! 🙂

                And what you said, makes complete sense. I think that’s why a lot of actors who do film, love theater. The energy from the audience is just as palpable.

                • ozzie20 July 5, 2011 at 9:26 PM #

                  EXACTLY! I used to get it when I danced too!

                  • ozzie20 July 5, 2011 at 9:28 PM #

                    But then we’re getting to the philosophical side, which is another whole new ball of exciting goodies (well to me anyway!).

                    • Open Book July 6, 2011 at 1:03 PM #

                      LOL!! This is great!!

              • ozzie20 July 5, 2011 at 9:25 PM #

                So when you hear the music live it’s a slightly different soundwave. It’s unique and can’t be recreated but you are hearing it live. Now I could get into philosophical theories here but I won’t if your finding this hard! So it’s a different pressure waves, atmosphere etc. You are hearing (and feeling it) it in its PURE form!

                Plus add in everyone’s excitment and everything’s heightened too! So what I’m trying to say is that cinema , dvd’s, cd’s etc, are good and you can still pick up everything and hear and feel it fine, when it’s live there will always be something present that cannot be replicated on a recorded device!

                I hope I made that as easy as possible! I can get really excited and carried away when talking about these things! Lol, I can find someting artistically exciting , yet find the physics and philosophy of it just as exciting and fascinating! 🙂

                • Littlebells July 5, 2011 at 9:31 PM #

                  You are such a little science nerd. 🙂

                  • ozzie20 July 5, 2011 at 9:38 PM #

                    And an art nerd and a maths nerd and a history nerd…..I’m a big ball of contrdictions and oddness but I love it anyway! I’m a NERD and I’m PROUD……I just switch off most of the time to conserve brain power and stop it from over heating! That’s never good because I get trapped questioning every single minute angle and it’s not a pretty sight! lol!

                    • Open Book July 6, 2011 at 1:02 PM #


                      I missed your response last night and had to come back and see what u wrote. I have to say it was well worth the wait. LOVE IT!!!

  26. Littlebells July 5, 2011 at 8:25 PM #

    I think it depends on the talent (you really do need to be a triple threat) and the vision of the director. I think Phantom could have been a lot better than it was, but that’s JMO.

  27. Francesa July 5, 2011 at 8:27 PM #


    LOL and spoken like a true performer..


    Stage musicals???
    Movin’ Up..loved the music but hated the performances


    • Littlebells July 5, 2011 at 8:29 PM #

      LOL, I know. Gene Kelly totally ruined me….:)

    • Open Book July 6, 2011 at 1:32 PM #

      Taboo- I have not seen that one? However, from what I’ve seen from the video it’s a good thing. Francesa this is for u LOL!!

      • Littlebells July 6, 2011 at 4:54 PM #

        Ok, I got to 10 seconds and had to turn it off. The music and the costume killed it.

  28. Francesa July 5, 2011 at 8:30 PM #

    Do you think that maybe audiences only want to see certain things on stage and certain things on the big screen? Audiences can be kind of finicky and maybe are unable to expecting to see the same type of raw performance in a movie as they see on stage

    • Littlebells July 5, 2011 at 8:34 PM #

      Could be, but look at “Chicago”. It was on the stage first and then went to the screen. The director, who happened to be a Broadway choreographer (step up your game HW), brought it to life on the screen and it was fantastic. It won Oscars. Again I think it totally goes back to the talent and vision. You KNOW people saw that movie who had never seen a musical in their life and loved it!!!!

      • Open Book July 5, 2011 at 8:44 PM #

        LB! It’s funny u say that because Chicago used alot of theatrical set design tricks instead of relying on CGI and the film was so much richer for it.

  29. Parisienne July 5, 2011 at 8:32 PM #

    Hi Everyone!


    Excellent Article. 🙂

  30. Parisienne July 5, 2011 at 8:34 PM #

    I think my last post disappeared but hi everybody!

    • Littlebells July 5, 2011 at 8:35 PM #

      Hiiiii!!!!!!!!! I’m going to find something just for you!!!!! I was hoping you would be here.

      • Parisienne July 5, 2011 at 8:38 PM #

        I wouldn’t miss your article!

      • ozzie20 July 5, 2011 at 8:38 PM #

        Paris!!! Hello. 🙂

        • Parisienne July 5, 2011 at 8:41 PM #

          Hi Ozzie!

    • Open Book July 5, 2011 at 8:45 PM #

      Hi Paris! Glad to see u!!

      • Parisienne July 5, 2011 at 8:47 PM #

        Hi Open Book! Glad to see you too. 🙂

        • Open Book July 6, 2011 at 1:04 PM #

          We are two ships Paris……. Sad Face!!

  31. Francesa July 5, 2011 at 8:38 PM #

    LB, but I think you are correct with respects to the director and iMO almost perfect casting (not a big renee z fan). It was like the perfect storm and maybe even timing like I believe you stated earlier.

  32. Littlebells July 5, 2011 at 8:41 PM #

    This is for you Paris! (I tried to find shortest clip because you know how long PO songs go)

  33. Open Book July 5, 2011 at 8:42 PM #

    I think when u see a theatrical production an audience is the editor, they can choose what to focus on and what not too. With film and television audiences are told what to pay attention to and what not too. Anyway, I think as our society has become more and more shorthand with how we communicate people don’t like to spend alot of time trying to figure things out. This is why film is more popular than stage productions IMO!!

    • ozzie20 July 5, 2011 at 9:42 PM #

      Ooooow, that a good point! I hadn’t thought of that. Kind of like a certain set of people can mistake gentlemanly manners as romantic or sign of cheating! *whistles and winks*

  34. Littlebells July 5, 2011 at 8:42 PM #

    Ok ladies, what do you think of the films from the Golden Age? Any favorites? Any standouts?

  35. Parisienne July 5, 2011 at 8:46 PM #

    Point of no return is my fav LB because its his ultimate seduction of her. 🙂

  36. Francesa July 5, 2011 at 8:47 PM #

    You are correct with respects to communication. Society wants the quickest way from point a to point b without all the yuck in the middle. Biggest, strongest, fastest. Like the transformers movie this weekend. Complete mindlessness, there was nothin’ in the brain when I left. But it made a ton of money.

    • Littlebells July 5, 2011 at 8:50 PM #

      That’s what makes me weep for humanity. We want instant gratification and we are losing quality in the process and lots of brain cells.

      • Parisienne July 5, 2011 at 8:54 PM #

        ITA! How do we keep from losing ourselves though when it seems that no one is trying to stop the decline into numbness. You are right when you mentioned the other day that society may end up like the people from WALL-E.

        • Littlebells July 5, 2011 at 8:57 PM #

          I know, right??? Well, I think it is up to us on an individual level to make changes. I won’t go into my big spiel, but as I have watched society decline, I have become very adamant about how I am going to raise my kids and what I will expose my children to regardless if they think it is cool or not. That goes for film, any of the arts actually, and education. If you don’t have kids, expose your friends, nieces, nephews, whoever!!! But it needs to be passed on. Do you get what I’m saying?

          • Parisienne July 5, 2011 at 9:06 PM #

            ITA we are on the same page. 🙂

            • ozzie20 July 5, 2011 at 9:48 PM #

              How about teaching people to have an open mind, question things and to keep finding new things to see if they like it?

              • Littlebells July 5, 2011 at 9:51 PM #

                Ozzie, most schools I have been in do not challenge kids to question things. It’s memorize and regurgitate. 😦

    • Open Book July 5, 2011 at 8:55 PM #


      I have to go but I will check back tomorrow and comment as well.

      LB-U are fantastic!!! Great discussion and article…….I can’t wait for Part 2.

      Take care everyone!

      • Littlebells July 5, 2011 at 8:58 PM #

        Thanks OB! Again thanks for the opportunity to have a musical fiesta at my house the last week and a half! 🙂

        Ladies, I’m still hanging around, so feel free to keep commenting. I could talk about this all. day. long. hahahaha! 🙂

  37. Littlebells July 5, 2011 at 8:49 PM #

    One of my favorite “ensemble numbers”:

    “What am doing here? They say my famous lover held down my husband while

    I chopped off his head. But it isn’t true, I am innocent. I don’t know why Uncle

    Sam says I did it. I tried to explain it at the police station but they didn’t

    understand me.”

    • ozzie20 July 5, 2011 at 9:58 PM #

      I haven’t seen this movie but I’ve seen this bit before and always loved it!

  38. Parisienne July 5, 2011 at 8:50 PM #

    I was watching Piers Morgan the other night and ALW remade The Wizard of OZ. What do you think? I don’t know if I like it yet from what I’ve seen.

    • Littlebells July 5, 2011 at 8:54 PM #

      Well, I think it has a lot of potential. The hardest thing about The Wizard of Oz is Judy Garland. I mean come on. Judy Garland. Judy “Frances Gumm” Garland!!! It is extremely difficult getting the public to be open minded about other people stepping into the shoes of immortalized people.

      • Parisienne July 5, 2011 at 9:03 PM #

        I agree. Have you seen Wicked and if so what did you think of it?

        • Littlebells July 5, 2011 at 9:11 PM #

          I have and I thought it was pretty good, but I wanted that “Wizard of Oz” feeling to carry over and it didn’t. Not that it was supposed to. I do like that we get to know why the witches are the way they are. Oh my gosh, I love “Defying Gravity” though. It’s my internal theme song when I feel I’m going against the grain but I’m going in the right direction.

          This is actually in the works to be brought to film. I’m interested to see who they cast and how they do it.

  39. Littlebells July 5, 2011 at 9:02 PM #

    Paris: NO I have not seen Shrek and WILL NOT! We were talking about Spiderman too! What the heck! Yes, I agree, not every single movie needs to be made into a musical. Now if Transformers becomes a musical and Bumble Bee is singing some ballad under a paper moon, I’m gonna gag! LOL!!!

  40. Francesa July 5, 2011 at 9:02 PM #

    ITA..I don’t know of who could replace Judy Garland or for that matter Julie Andrews in the SOM, the list could go on and on.

    • Parisienne July 5, 2011 at 9:04 PM #

      No one can replace Judy Garland but do you think the musical might fail because the movie is so loved by the public?

      • Littlebells July 5, 2011 at 9:07 PM #

        If it does fail, I believe it will be for that reason. Why do you think they’ve never made a remake of that movie or “Singin’ in the Rain” or “An American in Paris” (just to name a few)? Because the performers are irreplaceable!!!!

  41. Littlebells July 5, 2011 at 9:05 PM #

    Paris, glad you liked the video! Hang on ladies, I’m finding more youtube clips….:)

  42. Littlebells July 5, 2011 at 9:16 PM #

    OB said, “LB! It’s funny u say that because Chicago used alot of theatrical set design tricks instead of relying on CGI and the film was so much richer for it.”

    I’m not even going to touch that because you said it perfectly. And your last 8 words should be ingrained in HW’s brain.

    • Parisienne July 5, 2011 at 9:21 PM #

      I saw that she did and she is right. I agree with her. Even though we have alot of technology today. Its being misused, IMO.

      • Littlebells July 5, 2011 at 9:23 PM #

        It’s like nutella. Just because you like it and can put it on an assortment of foods doesn’t mean you need to put it on filet mignon, a baked potato or lobster tail. 🙂

        (And I loooove me some nutella! There is always a jar in our house! hahaha! )

        ps. Ozzie, I just made a comment about your physics!

  43. Littlebells July 5, 2011 at 9:25 PM #

    Who did NOT want to be Oliva Newton-John!!!! I mean, hello! I still sing this song and get my groove on!

    • Littlebells July 5, 2011 at 9:25 PM #

      Ok, I’m stepping away from the keyboard for a moment to dance…..

      • Littlebells July 5, 2011 at 9:27 PM #

        Oh my gosh that song is so hot!

        • Parisienne July 5, 2011 at 9:33 PM #

          Did you know she had to be sewed into those pants?

          • Littlebells July 5, 2011 at 9:44 PM #

            Yes! That is so hilarious!

  44. Littlebells July 5, 2011 at 9:32 PM #

    Ladies, one last question for you, and I’m pretty sure based off of the musicals you mentioned I won’t have to guess, but what musical, specifically dance or song number, would you love to re-enact?

    • Parisienne July 5, 2011 at 9:34 PM #

      Point of no return from Phantom and On My Own from Les Miserables.

      • Littlebells July 5, 2011 at 9:39 PM #

        I bet you would be amazing!

        • Littlebells July 5, 2011 at 9:40 PM #

          And she is Asian! It is possible to play outside your race!!!!

          • Littlebells July 5, 2011 at 9:41 PM #

            And you can “see” who she is singing about. Talent, people, talent…..

  45. Littlebells July 5, 2011 at 9:33 PM #

    Nope sorry, here’s the last question, what is it about musicals that pulls you in? Is it the story? The songs? The dances? The acting? The whole shebang? ?????

    • Parisienne July 5, 2011 at 9:38 PM #

      The whole Shebang but if an actor is nervous that person’s nervousness ruins the performance.

      • Littlebells July 5, 2011 at 9:43 PM #

        Yep, yep, yep, but I gotta say, the best is when all the singers voices come together for that harmony or all the dancers are in sync.

      • Open Book July 6, 2011 at 1:20 PM #


        I have to agree with Paris. It’s the whole shebang!!

        I think a musical (be it stage or screen) needs to be working on all cylinders to keep my attention. ITA agree Paris nerves kills a performance. It’s like nails on a chalkboard.

        Here’s a Q for either Paris or LB-
        Do u think it’s easier to hide nerves on stage or on film?

        • Littlebells July 6, 2011 at 5:08 PM #

          That is a great question. I can’t answer it entirely but as someone who has been on stage, I always felt at home. Don’t get me wrong, I got nervous a lot, but once I got out on stage, I used all the energy to focus on my emotions, dances, lines, songs, etc….If someone is still nervous once they are out there on the stage and can’t channel that energy, they shouldn’t be performing.

          I would think film would be easier, because if it looks awkward, you can reshoot a scene. I have no idea. Paris??????

  46. Littlebells July 5, 2011 at 9:46 PM #

    I think I would want to do “All That Jazz” from Chicago. Sleazy and sexy. Things I totally think I’m not! That’s why it would be so fun!

  47. Littlebells July 5, 2011 at 9:48 PM #

    Thank you ladies so much for a great discussion, but mostly, thank you for indulging my musical theater obsession! 🙂 I had an absolute blast writing it and talking with you! Francesa, always a pleasure and I hope I didn’t bore you too much. 🙂
    Ozzie and Paris, you girls are too much and keep me laughing!

    Feel free to ask anymore questions after tonight. I’m excited about what your thoughts are on Part 2. 🙂

    Have a great night and I’ll see you soon! 😉

    • Littlebells July 5, 2011 at 9:50 PM #

      Oh and expect more youtube clips next time. They will be very handy when discussing the performers and choreographers.

      • ozzie20 July 5, 2011 at 10:01 PM #

        Lol, I’ll comment more later. For now I’m off! Bye girls. I’ve had so much fun! 🙂

  48. Open Book July 6, 2011 at 12:23 PM #

    To finish this issue about film v. stage actors.

    Something I notice with film versus stage actors and it’s really important to mention. I believe film actors need to have great facial expressions and be very detail oriented because the camera picks up every subtle detail. I think for stage actors they have to be very big and grand with their gestures in-order for their performance to register with audiences in the back row. Plus they often have long monologues to give audiences time to catch up given audiences are the editors. Film actors on the other hand, have to learn short hand methods of disseminating a lot of information in a short period of time and be versatile to give the editors enough to choose from. So when stage actors try to make the transition to film especially after performing in this grand capacity it’s hard to master the subtleties of film as quickly as a film actor learning to let go and project on stage. This is why it pays for film and stage actors to do both stage and screen to be more well rounded and viable.

    So do I think film actors are more talented then stage performers? No because they both take a good amount of skill and expertise if they can hold an audiences attention for a good amount of time. IMO! Does that make sense?

    • Littlebells July 6, 2011 at 1:01 PM #

      Thanks OB, I had never really thought about that, but it is very true. I wonder if it’s easier to to a stage actor trying to reign in the expressions, voice, and movements for screen or being a film star and trying to make gestures grander? Well I don’t think I”ll ever have to worry about that….:)

      Paris, what do you think?

  49. Open Book July 6, 2011 at 1:11 PM #

    Hi LB!

    I realized I asked everyone to name the worst film musical they saw. I have to say.

    Drum rollllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllll!!!


    • Littlebells July 6, 2011 at 4:59 PM #

      *Squeals with laughter!* XAAAAANADUUUUUUUUUUU! XAN-ADUUUU-UUU-UUUU! IN XANADUUUUU!….*skates around the kitchen*

      OB, THIS IS AWESOME!!! I was so hoping someone would bring this up! And what kills me is THEY BROUGHT IT TO THE STAGE!!! hahahahahahahaha!!!!!! *snort, wipes tears from eyes*

      (I secretly owned the soundtrack….ssshhhh!)

      • Littlebells July 6, 2011 at 5:05 PM #

        “Your neon lights will shine for you in xanaduuuuu!” Oh my gosh I am so sorry, but despite this, I am totally loving it! I have it blasting on my computer! Thank you, OB! 🙂

        I gotta add, Andy Gibb is adorable and what the heck is she wearing towards the end???? Whoa!!! Just watched the amazing 80’s lasers!! Wow and all the girls magically disappeared! Wow, I don’t know, I think CGI was pretty rockin’ back then. hahaha!!!

        You seriously just made my day…..:)

        *goes back to watch it again*

        • Open Book July 7, 2011 at 9:51 AM #

          U are hilarious!!

          The CGI was AWESOME back then! U gotta love it. LOL!!

          Did u know Gene Kelley makes an appearance in this movie?

  50. Littlebells July 6, 2011 at 5:15 PM #

    BEcause of Open Book’s inspiration for worst musicals, I give you…….GREASE 2!

  51. Littlebells July 6, 2011 at 5:16 PM #

    Let’s try it again

    • Open Book July 7, 2011 at 9:53 AM #

      I’m at a lost for words.

      U win LB for the worst musical. LOL!!

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