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7 Musicals That Everyone Should Know No Matter What

I love these musicals – they’re like old friends. Old friends with great dance routines, impossibly catchy songs, and a lot of influence on film history.

Maybe you’re new to musicals, missed out on a few, or haven’t seen these favourites for a while.  Catch up with this lucky list of seven musicals that everyone should know.

`The Wizard of Oz´, 1939, Victor Fleming, George Cukor

If you haven’t seen The Wizard of Oz yet, it’s worth watching for its pop culture cache alone.

The film is adapted from L. Frank Baum’s fantasy tales from the American heartlands.  For returning viewers, try reading a few of the original stories for an entirely different perspective.

`Singin’ in the Rain´, 1952, Stanley Donen, Gene Kelly

Debbie Reynolds, Gene Kelly and Stanley Donen star in this upbeat musical comedy, charting the impact of the talkies on a silent movie studio.

If you’re a fan of gravity-defying dance sequences, you’ll recognise the famous Singin’ in the Rain and Make ‘em Laugh routines.

`The Sound of Music´, 1965, Robert Wise

A cinematic marvel filled with sweeping Alpine panoramas, the Julie Andrews classic is one of the musicals you need to know.

Set against a backdrop of the Nazi occupation, the Von Trapp family discover nostalgia, togetherness and survival through music.

There are so many wonderful songs, but for me, My Favourite Things really captures the spirit of the film perfectly.

`Oliver!´, 1968, Carol Reed

Mark Lester’s Oliver is an orphan caught between Ron Moody’s pickpocket gang, Oliver Stone’s criminal masterminding, and a dream of a better life.

One of the musicals that you must see, not least because it’s one of the few Charles Dickens tales to become a musical (the other being the flawless Muppet Christmas Carol).

`Labyrinth´, 1986, Jim Henson

Not your typical musical, but a true MTV era classic.

Starring a young Jennifer Connelly, Labyrinth is a perfect mid-‘80s storm of Jim Henson puppetry, a coming-of-age story and a soundtrack written and performed by David Bowie (in character as the Goblin King).

`Moulin Rouge´, 2001, Baz Luhrmann

Moulin Rouge has an unlikely cast, with Ewan McGregor and Nicole Kidman playing the star-crossed writer and dancer in the burlesque heaven of bohemian Paris.

Directed by Baz Luhrmann, its diamond-encrusted heritage reaches from Gentlemen Prefer Blondes to Elton John, from the Sound of Music to Bollywood.

`Chicago´, 2002, Rob Marshall

Just for fun, the 1940s production starring Ginger Rogers was criticised for the very things that make Chicago glorious.

“Calling to mind the follies, the court-room circuses and vulgarities of this brashly eccentric nation” (Bosley Crowther, New York Times, February 1942)

Catherine Zeta Jones, Rene Zellweger and Richard Gere are surprisingly great all-rounders as murderous starlets and their sleazy lawyer.

Translated directly from the stage show, the minimal theatrical set is interpreted through the film’s iconic black and red dream sequences.


Time to Discuss

So now that I presented my seven musicals that everyone should see, it’s time for your opinion.

What are your favourite musicals nobody should miss out?


Hi, I’m Jane, BA (Drama, Film and TV) and MA (Cultural and Creative Industries). When I’m not writing about creative things, I’m designing or planning them. If you’re brave enough to risk an avalanche, look behind the stacks of books and DVDs and you’ll find me balancing a cup of tea, a handful of knitting and a cupcake.
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