Musicals on Film?

     Musicals have always ranked high with me. There are few things I enjoy more than going to a theater and watching performers live and on stage, dancing, sweating and striving to earn that standing ovation. There are also few things I dislike more than having to watch a musical on film.

     I am not sure what it is, but I cannot bring myself to enjoy a musical which has been recorded on film. If it is a live recording of a performance in which there also is an audience, it is not as bad. But, to know that the actors and actresses had the opportunity to do several takes on something in order to get it right makes it seem less appealing to me. I know it may seem strange, but I cannot bring myself to enjoy the 1964 musical/movie My Fair Lady, directed by George Cukor.

     A few years back, I saw a live performance of My Fair Lady, and I enjoyed it greatly. I am not claiming to be an expert critic or anything, and I have only seen four or five musicals live, but I know I loved the musicals I have seen live and I cannot stand to see the film versions.

     This past summer I saw The Phantom of the Opera in London, and I had a fairly good seat. I remember being able to see the sweat pore from the faces of the performers and being able to see the expressions on their faces overwhelmed me. When a performer laughed, I laughed; when a performer cried, I wanted to cry. Being able to see that live makes me have a greater appreciation for live musicals.

     The film musicals, on the other hand, lack that personality. I cannot feel the same emotions from them as I do with the live musicals. I am not saying that the actors and actresses in film musicals are any less performers. I feel the cast members from the 1964 film My Fair Lady, especially Rex Harrison as Professor Henry Higgins and Audrey Hepburn as Eliza Doolittle, did a wonderful job and I would have loved to see them live. But, the fact that I can sit on my couch and watch their performance in a box takes away the originality of the performance.

     I know it takes just as much hard work to create a film, but the live musicals seem to require so much more dedication from the performers, both on stage and off. They do not get a second chance. The director cannot yell "cut." The performers have to perform each performance as if it were their last. That makes me love live musicals. That makes the high price for a ticket worth it. When I buy that ticket, I can almost guarantee that the performers in that musical are going to give it their all to make that performance their best.

     Overall, musicals should stay live. They belong on a stage. That stage can be in a theater or in the middle of a park, but please do not make me sit for three or four hours just to stare at a television screen. I would much rather pay a bit extra and see performers dance, sing and act the show live.

Kimberli DeRossett

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