Throwback Thursday: Five catchy musicals

Charles Liu

“High School Musical” sucks. The Daily Texan suggests you sing along with five of these catchy musicals instead. 

“West Side Story” 

A lively and poignant update of “Romeo and Juliet” set in 1950s New York City, “West Side Story” tells the romantic tale of a boy (Richard Beymer) from a white gang, the Jets, and a girl (Natalie Wood) with ties to a rival Puerto Rican gang, the Sharks. As their love blossoms, so does the conflict between the Jets and the Sharks, threatening the lovers’ future together.

With great songs such as the wistful “Maria” and the cheerful “I Feel Pretty,” “West Side Story” boasts some joyous dance numbers as well as some thoughtful commentary on racism and violence. For all its upbeat tunes, this musical is ultimately a haunting tragedy. 

“The Sound of Music”

“The Sound of Music” is a classic production from musical duo Rodgers and Hammerstein. Set on the eve of World War II, the story of Maria (Julie Andrews), an Austrian nun-in-training who becomes the governess for Captain von Trapp’s (Christopher Plummer) children, remains iconic thanks to its well choreographed dance numbers and sweet characters.

Captured on crisp, colorful 70mm film, the picture begins enormously optimistic, but the cheer found in songs such as “Maria,” “My Favorite Things” and “Do-Re-Mi” begins to fade as Nazis spread into Austria and von Trapp is called back to serve. The von Trapp children, and Maria herself, lose their innocence as the world plunges into darkness, and they find solace in their love for each other. 

“The Rocky Horror Picture Show”

“The Rocky Horror Picture Show” isn’t just a great musical ­­­— it’s a touchstone of American culture. A transgressive piece of cinema from start to finish, “Rocky Horror” delights with a cross-dressing mad scientist (Tim Curry), its unabashed sexuality, and bizarre, twisted characters and set designs. Among the memorable songs are “Hot Patootie – Bless my Soul” and “Sweet Transvestite,” which are dirty and darkly humorous.

While this horror comedy musical was poorly received upon its initial release, it has survived thanks to its large cult following. To this day, theaters across the
country continue to host “Rocky Horror” midnight showings, during which audiences often participate with the film and dress up as its characters.

“The Blues Brothers”

“The Blues Brothers” is a triumphant starring vehicle for John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd, who play two brothers out to save their Catholic orphanage from being demolished. Their plan: Raise money for the orphanage by re-assembling their band, The Blues Brothers Band. Standing between them and victory are Neo-Nazis, a mysterious, murderous woman (Carrie Fisher) and the entire Chicago police force.

The Blues Brothers cover tunes like “Sweet Home Chicago,” “Everybody Needs Somebody to Love” and “Jailhouse Rock” with hilarious, infectious verve, and they also perform alongside legends such as Aretha Franklin, Ray Charles and James Brown. “The Blues Brothers” is a sweet, lovable musical that will even appeal to viewers who hate musicals. No one can deny this one’s got a lot of soul, man.

“Beauty and the Beast”

“Beauty and the Beast” marked the highest point of the Disney Renaissance, a period in which Walt Disney Feature Animation experienced creative, critical and commercial success. “Beauty and the Beast” embodies that period with its marvelous art, superb vocal performances and magnificent storytelling. 

From the memorably peppy “Be Our Guest” and to the moving “Beauty and the Beast,” the film’s songs rank highly among some of Disney’s best. But it’s the romance, which is more relatable and mature than those in “Sleeping Beauty” and “Cinderella,” that lifts “Beauty and the Beast” into the higher echelons of cinematic fairy tales.