Musicals, Reviewed

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I went on a bender watching musicals last week. There is no end in sight. In fact, the more musicals I watch, the more musicals I remember that I want to watch. I’ve always loved musicals, since I saw Grease in Jr. High. I suppose the infatuation started in Choir class. We explored classic musicals, singing medleys and watching the films but I continued to explore outside of class and watched any musical I could get my hands on.

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In researching “musical review” before writing this post, I see everyone is reviewing my favorite musical of all time, Moulin Rouge. It has just come to the stage and I can’t imagine I will ever see it because of the perfection of Baz Luhrmann’s on-screen version. Nothing could ever compare to the visual artistry created in the film nor the beauty and emotion brought to the tale by Ewan McGregor, Nicole Kidman and the rest of the cast. Best Supporting Actor Of All Time: John Leguizamo as Toulouse. I could write an entire composition regarding my love of this film but that is not what I came here for.

Live on-stage, I have seen Grease, West Side Story, Cats and Rent among others and enjoyed them all. The talent of a live broadway performer is unmatched, for sure, but I love cinema for the immersive experience. You are so close to the actors on-screen and can see more details. I have a mind that musicals should be performed by talented singers, who sound pleasant and fit the part. This is why I am not a fan of Mamma Mia, I thought the singing was mostly terrible.

In the last week I have indulged in watching some fancy flicks: Les Miserables, Fiddler on the Roof and Chicago. I will review them here.

Les Miserables (2012)

Great performances and a brilliant score. Of course, the story line is tremendously depressing. It takes place in 19th century France when the soldier who releases Jean Valjean from prison vows to put him back there. Meanwhile Jean Valjean vows to care for a dying woman’s child. We sang a medley of these songs when I was in high school and I instantly remembered the tunes. Anne Hathaway definitely earned her Oscar in that movie, she was dripping with emotion and performed the songs I remembered beautifully and I was also pleased with Cosette. I was on the fence regarding Russell Crowe because of his subpar singing ability but he was a fine presence as the soldier and I decided it was okay. Hugh Jackman’s talents never surprise me, after seeing him in The Showman I would expect no less than greatness.

Favorite Song: I Dreamed A Dream

Fiddler on the Roof (1971)

This is the first time I had watched this film! I’m so glad I did because it exceeded my expectations. My favorite character in the movie is Tevye, the dad. The story is that of a Jewish family on a farm. They were a happy family with lots of daughters and no sons. Tradition at that time in history warranted the arranging of marriages, usually to the highest bidder. Chaim Topol, who played the dad was so animated and perfect in this movie. He was a good man who loved his daughters.

He tries to marry off his oldest daughter, Tzeitel, who was also a delightful addition to the film. I thought it was a young Barbara Streisand but it is actually Rosalind Harris as the beautiful, young, funny and smart Tzeitel. She is my second favorite character, bringing much more to the screen than demure farm girl.

I’m going to be honest, I didn’t know “If I Were A Rich Man” was a song. I thought the tune originated with Gwen Stefani. I know, it’s disgusting. Now I’m cultured, now I’m better for having seen and heard this classic musical.

Favorite Song: Matchmaker

Chicago (2002)

Last but certainly not least, I watched Chicago. I have seen this several times but it is one of my favorites on the big screen. I was prepared to not like it when it was first released. After all, Renee Zellweger singing? Absurd. I was impressed by every performance in this movie and, of course, it is a visual feast.

I love the story. In the city of booze and jazz Roxy Hart kills her lover and is locked in Murderess Row while her clever attorney, Richard Gere, tries to get her acquitted. Roxy just wants to be famous and it’s a cautionary tale about what some will do for fame. The costumes are beautiful and Catherine Zeta-Jones delivers the performance of a lifetime! Physically and vocally she is supreme, good enough to be on any live stage. The dancing numbers that she nails are incredible and she looks flawless throughout. Renee Zellweger was committed in this role and totally pulled off the singing. Richard Gere did not disappoint and the art direction and choreography for Razzle Dazzle and that We Both Reached For The Gun, where he works her like a puppet, were fantastic. Two hidden gems in this film, Queen Latifah and John C. Reilly.

Favorite Song: They are all so good! But Cell Block Tango is probably my favorite.

I hope I’ve given you a little nugget of inspiration to check these films out.

If you’ve already seen them, let me know what you thought in the comments!

What’s your favorite musical? I’d love more recommendations!

If you enjoyed my musical reviews, check out my review of popular Netflix series The Queen’s Gambit.

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Published by Jessica Lasa

Hello! I am a wife, mom and writer. I write about things that I love and want to share with the world. My mission is to inspire beauty, creativity and growth.

6 thoughts on “Musicals, Reviewed

  1. I’m not a big fan of musicals, but I do love Disney of course along with West Side Story, The Wizard of Oz, and Meet Me in St. Louis. 🙂

    1. I have never seen Meet Me in St. Louis! I will check it out. I totally forgot about Disney! I truly have loved musicals my entire life and I LOVE Disney musicals.

  2. I absolutely love Chicago. Cell Block Tango is definitely a favorite, but overall, that movie exceeded expectations. Every time I watch it, I’m more shocked that Catherine Zeta-Jones was pregnant during filming.

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