When the musical made the leap from stage to screen, it opened everything up, not just in terms of accessibility for the viewing audience, but the scope of the storytelling canvas – things were no longer confined to a stage, the settings, the choreography, the characters could live in a whole new way. Cameras could bring you closer to the performers, gaze down on the dancers from above – the camera became as much a part of the event as the characters telling the story.
Their arrival on the screen also allowed for musicals to be written specifically for the screen, and the TIFF Lightbox is running one of my personal favorites tonight as part of an ongoing program, Musicals! The Movies That Moved Us. A title that has a more poignant meaning with the recent passing of legendary creator Stephen Sondheim (and don’t worry, Robert Wise’s adaption of West Side Story is here, to get you geared up for the new version from Stephen Spielberg).
Featuring classic films from around the globe, the Lightbox is turning the lights down, and the sound up, and bringing some of the most beloved musicals back to the screen – films like Grease, The Rocky Horror Picture Show, The Harder They Come, Moulin Rouge, Purple Rain, The Umbrellas of Cherbourg, The Sound of Music, Tommy, Om Shanti Om, Mamma Mia!, and of course, 1952’s Singin’ In The Rain.
Set in the 1920s, Hollywood is on edge as the first talkies arrive, and studios scramble to cash in on the new fad. But not all the films will translate well, nor all the actors.
Don Lockwood (Gene Kelly) has been paired on screen with Lina Lamont (Jean Hagen) for so long that the entire world, including Lina, thinks they’re a real couple. Enter Kathy Selden (Debbie Reynolds) a young chorus girl with dreams of making it big in Hollywood, and, cue the music and choreography, Don is in love.
But he also has what could be the biggest flop on his hands, if he, his best pal and partner, Cosmo Brown (the scene stealing Donald O’Connor), and Kathy can’t figure out a way to save it. Maybe, turn it into a musical?
Careers will end, love will triumph, and there will be some amazing numbers (including a stylized sequence featuring Cyd Charisse) along the way!
This is one of those movies that I know backwards and forwards. I remember the first time I saw it. I was introduced to it in the early ’90s when it was broadcast as some late night movie. And I was completely taken in, I loved and knew a number of the songs, I laughed aloud, and enjoyed the simple joy of a well told story. I’ve seen it countless times, owned it on dvd and blu-ray, but for all that, I had never seen it projected.
And we’re going to resolve that issue tonight (and try and contain myself from singing along) as the lightbox presents it, via a 35mm print. The technicolor will be brought to vivid life as it paints the silver screen awash in its vibrancy, and for the first time ever, I will be watching some of my favorite musical numbers as they were meant to be seen – on the big screen!
This is huge!
And there are so many other titles I would like to see, and if you’re a musical fan, a number of these are a must. So dress up, mask up, gather your friends, put on your dancing shoes, and watch some of your favorite musicals the way they were meant to be – as a shared communal experience, filled with song, dance, and the magic of the theatre.
Check out the full schedule here.