This week the depression of the quarantine really started to set in. I miss hanging out with friends. I miss sitting at my favorite barstool at my favorite bar. I miss karaoke nights. And I especially miss going to the theater and watching a show. In order to try and combat my depression, I’m trying to dive into things that make me happy and will take my mind off of all the negativity going on in the world. What better escape is there than musicals? As I perused my favorite streaming services, I found that many of my absolute favorite musicals are available to watch right now!
One of my all-time favorite musicals is Hairspray. If you are unfamiliar with the movie/stage play, the story follows a plus-size teenager named Tracy who dances her way through 1960’s Baltimore during the height of the Civil Rights movement. Tracy’s optimism in the face of adversity makes her one of my favorite musical heroes!
Is it corny? Yes! Is the acting cheesy? Mostly! Is it a gay man’s absinthe soaked fantasy? ABSOLUTELY! Anyone who knows me knows of my love for pop music, so a film that stars the legendary Cher and the stunning Christina Aguilera is more than anything I ever dreamed of getting from a musical film. Throw in a heaping serving of Kristen Bell with an alcohol problem, along with a dash of Alan Cumming and Stanley Tucci as the token gays and I’m literally weeping with joy! There are many eye-roll worthy tropes in the film, but it more than makes up for it with hot dance numbers, catchy songs, and lines like, “I have more to worry about than to keep you from pouring tequila on your Cheerios!”
Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (2007)
Tim Burton, Johnny Depp, and Helena Bonham Carter are an all-star filmmaking team. They deliver a more than acceptable adaptation of Stephen Sondheim’s blood-soaked musical. While the Angela Lansbury production is still the most outstanding version to watch, the 2007 Tim Burton version is also worthy and makes our list!
Jersey Boys (2014)
I have to admit I was rather skeptical when I first saw the trailer. A biopic of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons directed by Clint Eastwood?! It took me a minute to wrap my head around that idea, but like many of Eastwood’s directorial features, it ended up knocking my socks off.
Funny Face (1957)
This is one of my all-time favorite films! Audrey Hepburn stars as a meek bookstore clerk who gets swept up into the wild world of fashion. Her whirlwind romantic trip to Paris with a brassy fashion editor and lightfooted photographer is an absolute fantasy. I promise it is absolutely S’Wonderful and S’Marvelous!
Cole Porter is one of the most prolific names in musical theater. This biopic starring Kevin Klein and Ashley Judd absolutely swept me off my feet. It gives a wonderful glimpse into Porter’s career and marriage to Linda Porter. Porter’s classic songs are brought back to life through a series of stunning cameos from Robbie Williams, Diana Krall, Alanis Morrisette, Sheryl Crow, Elvis Costello, and John Barrowman!
Anna and the Apocalypse (2017)
A musical about the zombie apocalypse. Do I need to say anything more? It has absolutely everything you could want from a horror musical!
Southern Baptist Sissies (2013)
This one is rather serious. I cried no less than eight times the first time I watched this filmed stage production of Del Shores’s story of four gay boys growing up in a Southern Baptist church. I myself attended a Baptist Christian church during my pubescent years. This story speaks to me louder than any other on this list. Del Shores really sums up the experience of growing up gay in the church with the line, “This is where we learned to hate ourselves.” Loving God and loving men is certainly a unique experience for gay men. If you are going to watch only one movie from this list, please watch this one.
Okay, technically there are a lot of musicals on Disney+ since almost every one of their feature films is a musical. I’ve eliminated animated films from this list and only included a few of my favorite mostly live-action musical films.
Babes in Toyland (1960)
As a kid, I remember being absolutely captivated by the magic and imagination of this film. Watching as an adult I see that I’ve taken on a lot of Ed Wynn’s traits.
The Sound of Music (1965)
Is there anything more classic or epic than this film? If you’ve never seen it, you must stop reading right now and go watch it immediately.
Bedknobs and Broomsticks (1971)
Many people forget that Angela Lansbury starred in a psychedelic musical about a witch who fights Nazis in WWII and adopts orphaned children. Many people think that Hocus Pocus is the best Disney film about witches, but I strongly argue that BedKnobs and Broomsticks is a superior film.
Before he was Batman and American Psycho, Christian Bale was leading a dance revolution in the streets!
About the author:
Lyric Burt is a local artist and social media director. He studied Theater Production at Portland State University’s College of the Arts School of Theatre & Film. He’s usually found with a camera in his hand taking photos and capturing video, or in a corner tweeting about the latest episode of RuPaul’s Drag Race.