DVD Reviews · Music

Make Music Day

Make Music Day is on 21st June, and we have plenty of books in the Information Store to help you learn an instrument, produce a single or stage a musical. Music comes in many different forms, but none are guaranteed to make you smile like a musical- here are some of our recommendations, available to borrow now from the DVD Lobby.   

Hairspray (DVD LOBBY 791.43) features a slightly unusual heroine. Tracy Turnblad is a fat, working-class girl from the run-down city of Baltimore, Maryland. Her dad runs a failing joke shop and her mum hasn’t left their flat in years. But Tracy loves to dance so much that she skips school to audition for the Corny Collins Show, an after-school TV show sponsored by her favourite, much-used brand of hairspray. Tracy has an overwhelming crush on Link Larkin, the show’s male star, but he’s dating the daughter of former beauty queen and TV producer Velma, who wants the outspoken Tracy off the air! Tracy finds support from Seaweed and his sister Little Inez, who only get to dance once a month on the studio’s “Negro Day”. Together with their mothers, Tracy and the black dancers lead a protest against the studio’s integration policy. Velma responds by fixing the dance competition that could make Tracy into a star. Disguised as a can of hairspray, Tracy attempts to sneak into the studio….can she win the title of Miss Teen Hairspray, win Link’s love and integrate the Corny Collins Show? Hairspray was originally filmed by Baltimore-raised director John Waters, but was remade in 2007 with High School Musical star Zac Efron in the role of Link. Songs like Run And Tell That and Welcome to the Sixties are affirming, feel-good hits; Lady’s Choice is a fast-paced rock’n’roll classic and Nicest Kids In Town is as ironic as it is catchy. Tracy is something of a theatre icon, and with good reason- her towering hair and tough attitude make her a great leader as well as a great performer.

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Tracy works her beehive on The Corny Collins Show

Singin’ in the Rain (DVD LOBBY 791.43) is directed by musical actor Gene Kelly. The release of the first ‘talking picture’ is a disaster for the silent movie studios- romantic hero Don Lockwood and his on-screen lover Lina Lamont are required to talk on screen for the first time. Don struggles to remember his lines and rein in his movements, but Lina’s grating accent is their biggest problem! Don’s confidence is shattered when Cathy Selden, an unsuccessful stage actress, scorns his advances and calls his profession “a lot of dumb show”! But together with Cathy, Don’s childhood partner Cosmo hits upon a plan: turn their failing movie into a musical, using Cathy’s voice instead of Lina’s! Cosmo’s solo Make ‘Em Laugh is a great example of a long take- lots of stunts with lots of props performed in one go!- but Lina steals almost every scene. There is no full-length version of their film The Singing Cavalier, but the dreamlike Broadway Melody, which lasts for about 15 minutes, is a stunning excerpt, showcasing the talents of ballet dancer Cyd Charisse (the only woman to dance with both Gene Kelly and Fred Astaire) The 1920s costumes (plus a few from the 18th century) look great on the male and female dancers and help convey the glamour of the Hollywood Age. The show is endlessly quotable (“I can’t stand him!”) and the recent London revival and UK tour were critical hits.

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Cathy sings the lead role while Lina mimes in Singin’ in the Rain

The Music Man (DVD LOBBY 791.43) is lesser-known, but definitely a classic. If you’ve seen The Simpsons’ episode Marge Versus The Monorail or know the Flim-Flam Brothers from My Little Pony, then you’ll recognise the story of a con-man who rolls into town and convinces the townsfolk to buy something they don’t need… The ‘Music Man’ in question is Harold Hill, who somehow sells a stack of battered instruments to the concerned parents of River City, Iowa. Since he can’t play a note, Harold intends to leave forthwith, but local librarian Marion won’t let him get away that easy. Marion uses her research skills to prove that Harold is lying, but Harold is a skilful trickster and the townsfolk already have a problem with Marion. Staff here may be biased, but our favourite song is Marion the Librarian– we even have a (male) Marian on the team! (Ya Got) Trouble is the song that is often parodied, a fast-talking sales pitch that warns about the dangers of playing pool!

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 Despite repeated warnings, dancing often takes place in Marion’s library

Soundtracks, backing tracks, scores and sheet music are all available to borrow from the Information Store. Please ask staff for further details, or check the catalogue here.

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