Thursday, October 11, 2012

Junior High and the Movie Musical

My Music Appreciation class has been studying musicals.  Now, I should say that I have always had a love for musicals, whether movies or on stage.  I've been in them, gone to them, sang along to soundtracks with great passion with my fellow musical-loving friends---they're just kind of my thing.  But trying to parlay my passion for musicals into lessons that would interest a junior high student has proved, well, interesting.

Most of these kids have never seen anything more than the local community college productions.  They needed a Broadway primer in the worst way.  I started with clips off YouTube.  I showed them casts performing on various TV shows, even a few live (bootlegged) stage versions of things.  I discussed the Tony Awards and played Lin-Manuel Miranda rapping his acceptance speech.  (They did perk up for that.)  We have watched clips and documentaries until we were blue in the face and they were still pretty much like, "Can we get the rest of this lesson over with?"

Discouraged, but not hopeless, I turned to the movie musical.  I started with Newsies, which I have used in class before with some success.  They loved it!  So, charged up with that small victory, I went to one of my all-time favorites, Singin' In The Rain.  I love this movie (though not as much as Sheena), but I wasn't sure the kids would think Gene Kelley and Debbie Reynolds tap dancing while falling in love wasn't quite as great.  Thankfully, I was wrong.  They were disappointed when I had to stop the DVD at the end of class and were already picking out their favorite parts.  (They really loved "Make 'Em Laugh."  One kid said that Donald O'Connor reminded him of Jim Carrey. Score one for making real-world connections!)  I totally did a teacher happy dance at the end of the hour!

So, with that, if you love a bit of theater, what other movie musicals (in whole or particular scenes) do you think they need to see?  My plan for the rest of the unit includes footage from Annie, West Side Story, Guys and Dolls, and Hairspray as well as a few other cast CD's, but I am open to suggestions.  So comment away...

15 comments:

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    1. I knew you would be excited! And we haven't even got to my favorite numbers yet!

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  2. Guys and Dolls, definitely. And Hello Dolly with Barbara and Louie. It's one of my favorites.

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    1. I don't have Hello Dolly, but I seriously considered getting it. May have to add it to my Amazon list!

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  3. New follower here, found you in the Wednesday Hodgepodge links...love your blog! I also love musicals. A few come to mind: Sound of Music, The King and I, Grease....I love Seven Brides for Seven Brothers...not sure how the junior high crowd would like that though. Of course Cabaret and Moulin Rouge are fantastic, but certainly not age appropriate. I'm interested to hear how they receive the rest of the line up.

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    1. Welcome to the party, Gerri! Age appropriateness has been a serious issue. There are so many things I want to share that just aren't quite school friendly. I really did think long and hard about The Sound of Music. May have to show them a clip or two at least.

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  4. My favorite musical is A Chorus Line but the movie wasn't good and it has a lot of inappropriate stuff in it.

    If they liked Singing in the Rain you might try another Gene Kelly one...maybe On the Town or maybe Anchors Aweigh since it has Jerry (as in Tom and Jerry) in it.

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    1. I've been looking for some more Gene Kelly stuff on YouTube! Just wish our internet connection was a little quicker at school!

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  5. You know my answer.

    I know you won't use it.

    But know that I'm thinking it.

    You're welcome.

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    1. I am not showing the children Xanadu.

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  6. seven Brides for Seven Brothers. Who doesn't love the amazing dancing lumberjacks?

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    1. There is something to be said for the dancing lumberjacks...

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  7. I agree with Joyce, 7 brides for 7 brothers is the only musical I like, otherwise I hate musicals.

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    1. I'm not sure we can be friend now, Alessandra! Just kidding, one of my besties doesn't really like musicals (except the crappy ones...see Xanadu)!

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  8. "Cats" and "Phantom of the Opera" are classics. If you want to reach back in time "Fiddler on the Roof" and "Hello Dolly". Young teens may like "Rent." Oh, there are so MANY!! I'm glad you are introducing them to musical theatre! It's the absolute best!!!

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