Over the coming weeks, I will slowly be returning to educationally based posts. After all, information and enrichment are both part of my purpose for writing. The sharing of ideas, knowledge learned from past experiences, current trends and issues in education, and my own return to classes for the fall semester will give me plenty to write about.
Today, I want to ask what your favorite musical would be if you had to choose. An entertaining way to provide a basis for discussion and enrich on a wide variety of subjects is to watch some of the classic musicals that have graced the stage and screen over the years.
When my oldest, soon to be 23-year-old son, was little we watched The Sound of Music and Peter Pan hundreds of times. Literally, hundreds of times! Over and over, the VHS tapes played and played. We had two versions of Peter Pan – the Disney Version and the Mary Martin version. Our family also saw Cathy Rigby, the once famous gymnast, in an off broadway production of Peter Pan on stage at the University of Buffalo Performing Arts Center. There, she flew over the audience, suspended only by a wire that was not always visible. It was a sight! It is no wonder that our oldest is also our most musically inclined offspring. Music enrichment started very early in his development.
Recently, he connected with his grandmother about musicals. She is another person in our family that really enjoys a well performed song and dance! She passed a list on to him, complete with ratings and comments, about which musicals were her favorite and why. After finding out about this, I remembered she had recently given me a copy of Brigadoon, a Gene Kelly musical about a magically appearing town in Scotland made in 1954. I sat down, watched it, and enjoyed myself. Surprisingly, my 15-year-old stayed on the couch with me throughout, periodically taking furtive glances at the screen. Apparently, he was not repulsed!
While not a connoisseur of the musical genre, I consider myself well watched or well exposed to musicals. The classic musicals bear some of my favorites: Oklahoma, State Fair, The Music Man, West Side Story, The Sound of Music, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, Mary Poppins, and White Christmas. You get the picture, a production with fabulous dancing and adequate singing.
White Christmas is probably my favorite muscial. It is very seasonal, but it is a must watch for me every year. Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and Sound of Music are right up there, one for the whimsy and the other for the story. There is much to discuss during or after West Side Story that still applies today. The version with Rita Moreno is my favorite. And, it just occurred to me that I left out The Lion King and Beauty and the Beast – more recent additions to musicals I would recommend.
In any case, musicals have been part of my life, our sons’ lives, and my parents lives. They have been part of my adult life, supporting the theater performances at the high school and college levels in our local community. Attending a musical gives a child a chance to be transported through live entertainment to a place that makes them think, wonder, be inspired, or just laugh. Societal norms and manners are reinforced, such as turning technology off, being quiet during the production, applauding whether you have been thrilled by the performance or not, and appreciating the hard work of the actors and musicians.
Musicals can be very enriching. You can rent them, stream them, or borrow them from the local library. Try watching a musical or two with your children. Pick one they are familiar with, and then one you would like to see but share the experience with them. Do not use the production as a baby sitter, watch with your children. Talk about what you see and hear. Talk about the story, the music, the hard work that goes into making such a production. Then, after you watch a musical movie, go see one live! Local, community theater groups offer their performances at a reasonable cost. Check the local high schools and colleges for the upcoming season’s listing of productions. Then, enjoy!
What is your favorite musical?