Gabby Catalano ’18 / Emertainment Monthly Staff Writer
Remember the good old days of singing along to “Circle of Life” in The Lion King, dancing to “Mamma Mia” in mother’s dress and high-heels, skipping down the sidewalk as if it was the yellow brick road leading to the magical kingdom of Oz, and eating a spoonful of sugar because Mary Poppins said so? This generation is a reminiscent one; a bundle of creative individuals who can sing all the songs in Little Shop of Horrors and continue to appreciate musical theatre in all its glory. Here are the top ten favorite musicals from our childhood:
10. The Lion King
How can one not adore actors parading on stage in animal costumes, and giant puppets singing “Circle of Life” and “I Just Can’t Wait to Be King?” As children, the multicolored backdrops, the animal sound effects, the visually stimulating characters with artistically crafted make-up, and the 3-D props fascinated us. But the best part is, we’re still inspired by classic Broadway shows today.
9. Mamma Mia
“Mamma Mia, here I go again. My, my. I cannot resist you!” First played on Broadway in 1999, this colorful musical is based on the songs from ABBA, featuring pop/dance music that resurfaces memories of dancing in the kitchen and singing “Dancing Queen” at the top of your tiny lungs. The characters come to life on stage in this Greek and party-like setting, with their dramatic gestures and high-pitch, breathtaking vocals.
Who hasn’t heard of this Broadway sensation telling a WWII tale of love, loss, thrill, and hope? Set in Austria and the mountains of Switzerland, the European backdrops of White Mountains and flower fields were visually intriguing as youngsters. We sometimes find ourselves looking back on these productions, remembering all the details that stood out to us years ago. The ticking of the clock, the nuns singing in the church, the bright red Nazi flags, and the juxtaposition of lightness and darkness all remind us of why this musical sits at the top of the theatre chain.
“We’re off to see the Wizard, the wonderful Wizard of Oz!” Even today we watch scenes of this production, analyzing the light to dark lighting design, Dorothy’s character development, the scenic elements of the Oz land (i.e. yellow poppy fields, the mysterious forest, the Munchkins vibrant homeland, etc.), and Pink Floyd’s “The Dark Side of The Moon” controversy. The Wizard of Oz can be every theatre and music enthusiast’s favorite, due to its ongoing mystery, Judy Garland’s charming vocals, and its cultural, historical, and aesthetic significance on pop culture.
6. Mary Poppins
“Just a spoonful of sugar and the medicine will go down…” Who remembers singing this song as a child, running around in the kitchen and refusing to take medicine unless with sugar? This classic meets pop soundtrack sets, a magical and lively ambiance for children, and button-up dresses with black umbrellas and red bow-ties; Being completely on-par with the 1960’s setting. The story itself is enchanting, and caters to a younger generation. However, we “adults” still find ourselves singing “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious” and using imagination to implement joy and amusement in life.
5. Sweeney Todd
Depending on how one defines childhood, Sweeney Todd may be placed near the top of the dark theatrical list. Who could go wrong with a peculiar barbershop setting, with realistic make-up and costume design, chilling vocalists and instrumental sound effects, and the haunting tale of humor and murder. For those who haven’t seen the musical, check out the 1936 film starring Tod Slaughter, just to compare how the scenic effects and actors changed over the decades.
This comedy-horror-rock musical is a must-see, especially at a young age in order to gain an appreciation for dark, comedic theatre. Similar to Sweeney Todd, this may or may not be your favorite “childhood” film, but it still sits comfortably on the list and leaves a lasting effect. The 1960’s rock and roll style stands out, including songs “Skid Row (Downtown)” and “Suddenly Seymour.” The well-known tunes and crazy storyline make this comedic musical memorable from being a kid. The film adaptions are also must-sees, though the musical itself is more interactive and 3-D.
Finding a place in everyone’s hearts, Hairspray introduced younger generations to racial integration in Baltimore during the 1960’s. The flashy costumes and bright pink and purple-colored backdrops are visually appealing, not to mention the flashing lights and glittery ambiance. If you missed this musical, check out the film adaption with John Travolta and Amanda Bynes.
After seeing The Wizard Of Oz, Wicked was next on my childhood theatre list. The smokey and dark effects, green witch make-up, character development of Elphaba and Glinda, and alternate telling story of The Wizard of Oz all captured my attention. Even now I find myself re-watching scenes on YouTube and listening to the eerie but emotional soundtrack.
Because it’s Disney Channel and whether you care to admit it or not, this musical has a place in all 21st century young adult hearts. It’s a musical of self-discovery, identity, and image. Many viewers loved the natural lighting, as well as the development of Zac Efron and Vanessa Hudgens’ characters throughout all four musicals.
What was your favorite musical growing up? Sound off in the comments!