Hugh Jackman polishes his pipes to return to the movie musical in The Greatest Showman, your Sunday night movie on M-Net. In honour of this timeless genre, we’re looking back at ten of our favourites.
To make the very difficult task of whittling the list down to ten a little easier, we’ve excluded animated musicals, so you won’t see the likes of gems such as The Lion King or The Nightmare Before Christmas on this list.
Let the song and dance begin!
Fresh off her stint on American Idols, Jennifer Hudson impressed audiences so much with her performance in this Motown musical it led to an Oscar win for what was her feature film debut. Singing by her side is a sizzling cast which includes Beyoncé, Eddie Murphy, and Jamie Foxx.
- Little Shop of Horrors
Featuring Greek-chorus style narration, singing plants, and a sadistic dentist, this musical blends horror and dark comedy to great effect. Rick Moranis is perfectly cast as the bumbling Seymour Krelborn, while Steve Martin is fantastic as said sadistic dentist.
- Mary Poppins
Julie Andrews’ feature film debut also won her an Oscar. As the title character she is “practically perfect in every way” and has a fantastic comic foil in Dick van Dyke’s Bert. And by adding animation and breaking the fourth wall, this adaptation of P.L. Travers’ work became even more memorable.
- Moulin Rouge
He did it with dance in Strictly Ballroom and with words in Romeo and Juliet. In Moulin Rouge, Aussie director Baz Luhrmann makes his story soar with song as we meet the tragic courtesan Satine, played to perfection by Nicole Kidman.
“Please sir, can I have some more?” The immortal line that gets orphan Oliver booted out the orphanage, leading to a song-filled rendezvous with the Artful Dodger, Fagin, and Bill Sikes. With catchy tunes and unforgettable performances, it put quite a different spin on Charles Dickens’s classic.
- Singin’ in the Rain
Gene Kelly was a master of dance, and his talent is on full display in this side-splitting, toe-tapping musical about the introduction of sound to the movies. Kelly’s umbrella-twirling dance in the rain has become one of cinema’s most classic scenes, and is wonderfully supported by masterful physical comedy from Donald O’Connor and a romantic charm in the form of Debbie Reynolds.
- The Sound of Music
Julie Andrews is synonymous with musicals, so it’s hardly surprising she’s on this list twice. Just a year after her Oscar win for Mary Poppins she was nominated for her role as Maria von Trapp. Supported by seven singing children and a delightfully gruff Christopher Plummer, she made The Sound of Music one of our favourite things.
- Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street
Tim Burton reteamed with Johnny Depp for this dark delight adapted from Stephen Sondheim and Hugh Wheeler’s pie-baking masterpiece. Sacha Baron Cohen is in fine form as Adolfo Pirelli, as is the rest of the cast, but it’s hats off to Depp in particular for his brooding rendition of a tortured antihero.
- West Side Story
Romeo and Juliet goes west side, in this musical about star-crossed lovers from rival gangs. Pitting the Jets against the Sharks in dance-offs that travel from rooftops to basketball courts to a gym dance, it’s a diverse display of talent and tunes set against the backdrop of a New York City turf war.
- The Wizard of Oz
L. Frank Baum’s novel has been adapted time and time again, but no adaption endures as much as this timeless movie musical. Judy Garland travels somewhere over the rainbow, meeting colourful characters in a multitude of memorable moments involving brainless scarecrows, yellow brick roads, and melting wicked witches.