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...