Tik, tik… boom! has achieved extreme success all over the world this year, as well as the comedy special Inside by Bo Burnham and the remake of the great West side story: it MUST mean that the theatre kid inside of us can finally come back! Blasting out our favorite song, dancing to the routine, crying with the characters! Musicals have the power to make us change time and space and fall into a universe where everything is possible. Some consider them the purest form of performance, and for many good reasons: an entertainment so broad and precise, where music, storytelling, and emotions blend perfectly together.
Back in the day musicals, especially in the US, were the highest form of entertainment, making singers, dancers, and performers the biggest stars in the world: Judy Garland, Fred Aster, as well as Liza Minnelli were incredible actors, but their musical talents made them the icons we recognize today.
However, over time this genre lost its appeal to the broad audience: thanks to the improvements in technologies and the desire from the audience to have more realism in cinema, Hollywood has shifted toward narrative movies, based on dialogues and actions rather than soundtracks and dance numbers.
Now musicals are gaining hype again all over the industry and people are starting to get curious about the genre. Sometimes, however, it can be difficult to jump right into a new world: if you are tiptoeing into the world of the musical and don't really know where to start, here are five movies you need to watch to get to know, step by step, the musical:
La la land: 2017 was the turning point for musicals: the release of La La Land shifted completely the perspective. This elegant, thought out and Oscar-worthy movie reminded people that musicals can and must be a versatile genre that is able to create a brilliant piece of cinema as well as amazing entertainment for the masses.
The Rocky horror picture show: if this iconic, ridiculous, funny, dramatic, absurd, sometimes horrific story doesn't boost your serotonin level, then you better be dead. The revolutionary performance of Tim Curry as the sweet transvestite will conquer you by the second, and after the night laughing to the poor Janet and Bread, you will catch yourself humming the Time Warp all next week.
Into the woods: the recently late Stephen Sondheim wrote the lyrics to many wonderful shows, one of them making him collect even a Pulitzer Prize. However Into the woods remains one of his finest works. Don't let yourself be fooled by the fairy tale characters and the childish costumes. The musical has many dark twists as well as some of the most genial lyrics ever written for musical theatre.
Cabaret: a classic is classic. What better way to jump in the pool of the musical if not with the great Liza? The movie, even though it maintains the tragic story of the poor Sally Bowles struggling to become a star, is softer than the theatre version, presenting the musical numbers only when on stage, leaving out the classic musical illusion. A great start for musical beginners!
RENT: the musical that changed the rules in the game. The real, authentic, and raw portrait of the life as a poor, queer or black person in NYC in the 90s completely shocked the rich audience of the Broadway theaters. Into a world of sparkle, lights and tip-tap, Jonathan Larson brought, like a slap in the face, the tragedy of real-life and its beauty.
Larson has been praised and enchanted by the incredible performance of Andrew Garfield in Tik,tik… boom!, hopefully gaining him an Academy Award, and proving the expressive power of the musical once again.