Musicals have always been popular with viewers of all ages for their interesting stories, amazing lyrics and the lasting impact they create. Many musicals have gone on to becoming block busters and their soundtracks have topped the charts. Here's my look at the top musicals of all times.
You don't even get a prize for guessing this one. Undoubtedly, the "King" of all musicals, the all-time favorite and the movie a whole generation has grown up with, is none other than...The Sound of Music!
Set in 1930s Austria, this is the story of Maria, a young impulsive woman, who fails to become a nun and eventually falls in love with Captain Von Trapp (Christopher Plummer), whose children she is a governess of. Directed by Robert Wise with music and songs by Rodgers and Hammerstein, the movie won five Academy Awards including Best Picture while Julie Andrews earned an Oscar nomination for Best Actress. Every song of this movie went on to become a hit.
When you think of the movie, the image that instantly flashes through your mind is of Maria (Julie Andrews) guitar in hand, wandering over mountains (title song), slipping into the abbey, "How do you solve a problem like Maria", manipulating puppets in "The lonely goatherd", and being a mother figure to a brood of seven children as she picnics with them and teaches them how to sing "Do-re-mi" and comforts them on stormy nights, with "My favorite things"!
And who can forget Liesl (Charmian Carr), the dimpled beauty, who pirouettes and twirls one rainy night in the in the arms of Rolfe, the postman, as they sing of the dangers of that very special age, "Sixteen going on seventeen".
Almost half a century later, this movie is still as popular as it was when released and the songs are still in style.
Mary Poppins is another hit musical starring Julie Andrews and Dick Van Dyke. This 1964 Walt Disney production is the story of a kind, gentle but firm, magical nanny who travels to help children everywhere when they are most in need.
Julie Andrews won the Academy Award for Best Actress for this film. The movie also won the Oscars for Best Film Editing, Original Music Score, Best song for "Chim Chimney" and Best Visual Effects and received 13 nominations in all.
"A spoonful of sugar" and "Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious" are other popular songs of this movie which comprises of over 15 songs.
Another 1964 movie which went on to become a runaway success is My Fair Lady, a movie adaptation of George Bernard Shaw's classic, Pygmalion. Audrey Hepburn as Eliza Dolittle charms and delights as a low born Cockney flower girl who is rigorously coached into speaking like a "propah English lady" by Professor Henry Higgins (Rex Harrison). Some of the popular songs of this movie are "Wouldn't it be loverly", "Just you wait Henry Higgins", "I could have danced all night" and "The rain in Spain".
Witty and melodious with fine acting, My Fair Lady is a masterpiece of musical comedy and truly one of the best musicals of the century. While Audrey Hepburn lost out to Julie Andrews, Rex Harrison secured the Academy Award for Best Actor, George Cukor was awarded Best Director and My Fair Lady was the Best Picture of 1964. Overall, the movie won 8 Oscars, 3 Golden Globes and BAFTA for Best Film.
Saturday Night Fever is the story of Tony Manero, a young man with a dead-end job whose life perks up on weekends when he hits the dance floor at a local disco. The combination of Bee Gees music and John Travolta's dancing got a whole generation swinging and "Stayin' alive" became the new anthem. Saturday Night Fever was a rage and spelt instant stardom for Travolta whose grace on the dance floor held viewers spellbound. Disco music and strobe lights became the "in thing" and SNF, as this 1977 movie was popularly called, became a huge commercial success. The soundtrack featuring songs by Bee Gees like "More than a woman", "How deep is your love", "Night fever", etc., is still one of the best selling soundtrack of all times.
Grease is another John Travolta hit musical. Released in 1978 and starring Olivia Newton John, Grease is the story of two lovers in a 1950's high school, Rydell High. College pranks, sweet teen romance, jealousy, rivalry, misunderstanding and loads of fun are liberally interspersed with songs that add to the enjoyment of the movie. Sandy's (Olivia) transformation from a naïve, wide-eyed girl in frocks into a girl in tight black pants and leather jacket is literally "electrifying" as she shakes a leg with a stunned Sandy (John Travolta) who bursts into "You're the one that I want".
Walt Disney's The Lion King, the saga of Simba, the newborn cub of lion king Mufasa and queen Sarabi, is the highest grossing 2D animated film of all time in the USA. Simba is told that all of the Pridelands will be his to rule and that it is his responsibility to maintain the delicate balance of life. Simba's story of ouster from his homeland by the cunning Scar, his persecution by hyenas, his refuge in a forest and eventual return to triumph is an amalgam of fun, music and thrills. Elton John and Tim Rice wrote 5 original songs for this film. "Can you feel the love tonight" won the Academy Award for Best Original Song, the Golden Globe for Best Original Song, the BMI Film Music Award, and the Grammy Award for Best Vocal Performance Male (Elton John). Apart from this, "Hakuna Matata" and "Circle of Life" garnered many nominations.
Set in the musical locale of the Montamarte Quarter of Paris, Moulin Rouge! tells the tale of a young English poet/writer Christian ( Ewan McGregor) and Satine (Nicole Kidman), the star cabaret actress and courtesan of the Moulin Rouge who is terminally ill and succumbs to her illness after a performance. Flashy costumes, dances, elaborate sets and absorbing music make this film a visual as well as an audio treat. Director, producer and co-writer Baz Luhrmann's musical extravaganza earned several nominations including 8 Oscars. It eventually received the Oscar for Art Direction and for Costume Design.
It has the distinction of being the first musical in 22 years to be nominated for Best Picture. "Come what may", "Sparkling diamonds" and "The show must go on" are some of the popular songs of this film.