There are many ways our family story flips convention on its head. Here’s another one …
Among the endless categories in which I flunk at being a gay man, one that stands out is my less-than-zero interest in musicals. Pre-parenthood, I think I had seen a grand total of two: Cats with my family circa 1979, because my older sister was a big fan; and Chicago in 2001, when I was visiting New York with a group of gay men who clearly know the rules better than me.
Then I adopt these two little boys, and for about a five-year period, it was “all musicals, all the time.” Our house seriously turned into show tune central.
As with many things related to our family, I can’t really remember how our love affair with musicals started. I can only say during those year we watched them and listened to them … a lot.
Here, off the top of my head, are the musical movies we’ve seen and (usually) loved, either live, at the movies, or on DVD:
- The Wiz
- The Wizard of Oz (three guesses which one the boys voted had better music)
- Hairspray (a particular favorite)
- Mamma Mia!
- West Side Story (both the movie and the “edgy” onstage revival, which basically meant sometimes they sang in Spanish; which would have been fine, except neither Tony nor Maria could sing)
- Xanadu (the movie from 1980—I’m not even joking)
- Fame (when they were a little older—and can I just say, seeing it again for the first time since I was a teen: Wow!)
- Little Shop of Horrors
- Pitch Perfect
- All the High School Musicals (yes, I love my kids a lot)
- Bring It On
- The Color Purple
But for as much as (mostly) enjoyed everything we saw on that list, nothing … and I mean, nothing … compares to the spell cast on my kids (pun intended) by Wicked. Oh. Em. Gee. For a solid year, our house was all about Wicked. We saw it, bought the soundtrack, and listened to every song, pretty much every day, all day, all the time. You haven’t lived until you’ve seen a 12- and a 10-year-old boy dueting at the top of their lungs in the roles of Elpheba the Wicked Witch and Glinda the Good Witch to “What Is This Feeling?” (Answer: LOATHING!) Priceless.
Proving the “too much of a good thing” rule, we saw Wicked a second time about a year and a half ago. This round, everyone (i.e., the kids) was a critic: Glinda was too goofy, the original Elpheba sang better, the band didn’t sound as good, etc.
But we will pop the CD in from time to time, and it’s still fun to watch them belt away about how much they loathe each other.
Honorable mention to all those Rankin-Bass Christmas specials, which, if you count them, add another half-dozen musicals to the list. Thanks to The Year Without a Santa Claus, every holiday season we were treated to another kids’ competitive/insulting sing-off: “Mr. Heat Miser/Mr. Snow Miser.”
I have to say, it’s much more entertaining when my kids are mean to each other in character.