Modern day musicals [spoiler]

January 24, 2008 § 1 Comment

I admit. I was in school musicals. Some of you know that I have a theatre degree but you also must know that I didn’t get a degree in musicals. Most of the work I did was in dramatic, avant-garde, and new plays- some unpublished. My knowledge, therefore, of musicals is very limited. I know the ones that I was in and some others.

Now, the modern day musical is another thing. Most of them are trying to keep the musicality of the musical without the cheesiness and artificial flavor. I’m not trying to say that musicals don’t have their place. Obviously they do. They’re just not to my taste. But the modern musical, the one that’s attempting new standards is more to my taste. Below is a list of modern day musicals that I’ve enjoyed. 

A simple story of boy meets girl. Nice thing is that boy and girl don’t get together- they actually get back together with their ex’s, who they want to patch things up with. Yes. This means, no sex scene… and really, no adultery, which is a major theme of movies today (and makes me sick to watch- just ask bilingual papi). The songs were written by the main actors who are, in their own right, singer-songwriters. The main guy fronts The Frames, which is a lot louder than the songs in the movie.

Dancer in the dark
Bjork stars in this tale of a factory worker who dreams of being in big musicals. The sounds of the factory blend to make the backdrop for Bjork’s lilting voice. Thom Yorke also provides his lovely voice on one of the ballads. Bjork runs into some trouble and is sentenced to death. The song leading to her death still gives me chills.

Les Parapluies de Cherebourg (The Umbrellas of Chrerboug) 1964

Starring the awesome Catherine Deneuve (also in Dance in the dark), this is nothing but music. I went to see it with some French students while doing my undergrad. It was cool to go see it in an old San Francisco theatre, even though what I remember is laughing at it a lot. I still enjoyed being there. By the way, yes, it is entirely in French.

Moulin Rouge

I enjoyed this movie the first couple of times around but don’t watch it anymore. It’s got a nice blend of song and dance in a stylistic way but within a context where doing the song and dance supports the story.

Movies where music plays a key role

I know all movies have a soundtrack but some movies as their theme the music industry. Here are some that I’ve enjoyed:

Music and Lyrics
Hugh Grant and Drew Barrymore are like Bogart and Hepburn from Sabrina- kinda weird but you get over it (I think). A friend of mine brought it over to watch and at first I could tell that a special someone of mine was eyeing it with a little bit of doubt- let’s just say a lot of doubt. It’s not the best movie in the world but one of the things that I appreciate about this one, as well as with Dancer in the dark and Once, is that the music selection is quality. Most of the music (and precisely the song that the movie revolves around) was written by Fountains of Wayne bassist, Adam Schlesinger. If you know the Fountains of Wayne you know that their songs are well written and catchy- a combo I don’t hear often.

Wedding Singer

Another Drew Barrymore movie, this time with Adam Sandler. Sandler does a decent job and doesn’t seem to do his exaggerated comedic characters. Honestly, I haven’t cared for Sandler’s “comic” routine but this movie makes you consider him as a bit more than that. As most of you know, this is more a nostalgia movie for those of us who grew up in the 80’s.


This I list for a very specific scene that tickles me. It stars young Brendan Fraser, Steve Buscemi (who doesn’t get killed off) and Adam Sandler (this time in a role more typical to his career). It’s a very dorky movie about this band that really wants to get a record deal and end up holding employees at a radio station hostage so that they will play their demo tape, which gets burned up. Being airheads they don’t recognize that with their only copy gone, they could just demand to have a live concert; advice that Joe Mantegna’s DJ character gives them.

Do you have any favorite movies where music plays a key role?



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§ One Response to Modern day musicals [spoiler]

  • Erin says:

    Just had to say that I saw Once this weekend and loved it! 🙂 I will have to check into some of the others you have listed that I haven’t seen.

    I still have the song “Falling Slowly” in my head. 🙂

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