Weekend Watchlist | Musicals

By The Pitt News Staff

There’s nothing like a good musical to pick you up during the last few weeks of class, whether you’re watching one or listening to one while you study. Here are some of our favorite musicals to check out this weekend.

The Umbrellas of Cherbourg (Prime Video) // Jacob Mraz, Staff Writer

Winner of the Palme d’Or at the 1964 Cannes Film Festival, French New Wave director Jacques Demy’s acclaimed musical is worth watching. It centers around the relationship of Geneviève Emery (Catherine Deneuve), the beautiful daughter of a local umbrella saleswoman, and Guy Foucher (Nino Castelnuovo), a local mechanic who splits his time between dating Geneviève, working and taking care of his sick mother. Guy and Geneviève, despite her mother’s disapproval, are madly in love and plan to get married, until Guy is drafted into the Algerian War. But before he leaves, the two make love and Geneviève gets pregnant, setting the stage for the couple’s future. It is a heart wrenching and moving story about love and compromise that is often cited as one of the greatest non-English films of all time.

“The Umbrellas of Cherbourg” was a heavy inspiration for 2016’s “La La Land” and is a musical in that every word in the film is sung — much like an opera. While this is initially quite jarring, viewers will hardly notice the difference after the first ten minutes. The flow of the narrative is tight, avoids unnecessary subplots and at just 91 minutes is the perfect film to sit down and watch between classes or before bed. If you are a lover of musicals, you are almost certain to love this as well as Demy’s other acclaimed musical, “The Young Girls of Rochefort.”

Into the Woods (Disney Plus+) // Katelyn Kruszewski, Staff Writer

What if your favorite fairytale continued past happily-ever-after? While I’m not a major fan of movie musicals, I must say that “Into the Woods” (2014) is one of my favorite on-screen musical adaptations.

The plot follows a witch who tasks a childless baker and his wife to find magical items to reverse a curse put on the baker’s family. As the story progresses, these magical items are found in some of our favorite fairy tales such as Cinderella, Red Riding Hood, Jack and the Beanstalk and more. As the baker and his wife adventure to collect these items, all characters end the first act of the show with a seemingly “happily-ever-after.” However, their actions have consequences, and the plot continues after their happy endings going beyond the norm, leading to more conflicts, including a giant on the loose, an unfaithful prince charming and the cruel aftermath of the witch’s magic.

The film stars famous actors such as Meryl Streep, Emily Blunt, Anna Kendrick, James Corden, Johnny Depp and Chris Pine. It’s a joy to watch your favorite actors play these nonsensical fairytale characters all while singing the beautiful and witty music of Stephen Sondheim. (Enjoy Chris Pine as Cinderella’s prince and Billy Magnussen as Rapunzel’s prince dramatically singing against a waterfall about how rough they have it as prince charmings).

“Into the Woods” is charming, dramatic, funny, witty and altogether a joyful twist on classic tales that we know and love. This musical is a beautiful metaphor for the challenges that you can face in the woods, aka everyday life. Dive into the woods for a heartfelt and funny classic.

Hairspray (HBOMax) // Sinéad McDevitt, Digital Manager

We should keep making movie musicals because I love them, but let’s be real, the genre peaked with “Hairspray” in 2007. It’s got a stellar cast including Zac Efron, John Travolta, Queen Latifah, Michelle Pfeiffer, Christopher Walken and more. Plus, the film keeps most of the great songs from the show, includes a couple of really catchy new ones and changes the ending in a way that improves the story.

Set in 1962 Baltimore, Tracy Turnblad (Nikki Blonsky) is a bubbly heavy-set teenager who wants nothing more than to dance on “The Corny Collins Show.” She gets her chance and is showered with fame, as well as a chance to spend time with teen heartthrob Link Larkin (Zac Efron), but her popularity and pro-integration stance makes her the target of the show’s producer, Velma Von Tussle (Michelle Pfeiffer), and her daughter, Amber (Brittany Snow).

Things only escalate when Tracy joins a march on the studio lead by Black performers who want an equal chance to dance, lead by Motormouth Maybelle (Queen Latifah) which gives us the stunning number “I Know Where I’ve Been.”

“Hairspray” is a musical adaptation done well, and it’s one of my comfort watches, so you should check it out too.