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The Summer of 1978. I was 11. That was the summer my parents let me go to San Jose solo for a couple of weeks, and that’s how I discovered my love for Broadway musical soundtracks. My sister spent the summer with my grandparents in Texas (I keep telling her it wasn’t so bad, she got to learn how to drive a tractor afterall…) while I spent several weeks in San Jose with my diaper buddy Lori and her cousin Deb, who was visiting from the Bronx. The three of us spent our days at the park playing Mancala using an egg carton and marbles while I tried to imitate Deb’s thick New York accent, and our nights fighting over who got to play Breakout on the family’s new Atari 2600 console. The rest of the time we were rehearing for our musical.
Yes, we had mighty big plans for a big musical production. A Really Big Shewww.
Grease – which was first a hit on Broadway in 1971 – had just come out that summer on the big screen, and I knew every word to every song. I bought the soundtrack for my little sister for her birthday, and then borrowed it back from her and took it with me down to Lori’s where we spent countless hours every day choreographing and singing songs from the film (my favorite was singing Stockard Channing’s character in “Look At Me, I’m Sandra Dee”). Lori had the soundtrack to “A Chorus Line,” so we also worked a few numbers from that album into our production, which I’m not sure we ever actually put on for anyone. The plan was, as I recall, to put on a show for my little sister as a late birthday present when she showed up with the folks after her cross-counry road trip back from Texas to take me back to Oregon. My sister says she might have a vague memory of watching us gals doing our best Fosse moves in Lori’s living room. And then again, maybe she’s just finally worked up a visualization of the story I’ve told many times over the years (pretty much every time I hear anything related to Grease, John Travolta, Stockard Channing or Olivia Newton-John, that story comes out of my mouth). But we sure had a lot of fun getting ready for the performance that may or may not have actually occurred.
Since then, I’ve always had an affinity for musicals. Broadway shows, big screen musicals, I love them all. These days, however, I’ve become a Musical Mamma. However, instead of learning all that choreography myself, I’m living vicariously through my teenage daughter, who has been performing in musicals since the 2nd grade. First it was Annie, followed by Aladdin, then 101 Dalmatians. In more recent years she was in Once Upon A Mattress, Willy Wonka, Annie (for the 2nd time), and Thoroughly Modern Millie. Although I don’t keep up with the dance moves or her lines, I’ve found that I can’t help learning all the lyrics to the songs in the show. It’s probably because, like the overly involved devoted Musical Mamma that I am, I play the music from whatever production my daughter is involved with on the car stereo every morning on the way to school so she can work in a few extra minutes of rehearse time. I wake up with these songs in my head, even months after the show is done. Musical soundtracks are so catchy. So annoyingly catchy. So aggravatingly stick-in-your-head-and-pop-up-at-all-hours-of-the-day-and-night catchy.
We’ve already established how much I love Grease. So you can imagine how ecstatic I was when Jefferson Public Radio brought the sing-a-long version of the film to the Cascade Theatre last year. For most people, the film was a lot more than just a passive event. My daughter and I spent the afternoon scouring local thrift stores for costumes, and we weren’t the only ones. There were leather motorcycle coats & slicked back do’s, poodle skirts, pedal pushers and pink satin jackets. Everyone danced in the aisles (seriously, how often are we encouraging dancing in the aisles at the Cascade?) to Greased Lightning, and there were a few opportunities for audience members to get up on stage and strut their stuff on mic. There were contests, prizes and I had at least two Pink Ladies. The drink, I mean.
Because we had so much fun the last time, JPR is bringing another sing-a-long broadway musical to the Cascade Theatre’s big screen this month with Mamma Mia! This gives me two great opportunities with today’s MotM. The first is to share my favorite broadway/big screen musical hits playlist with you, and the second is to offer one lucky reader a chance to win a pair of tickets to the event, which is a lot more than a film…it’s more of a disco-themed costume party mixed with karaoke and dancing.
For those not yet in the know, Mamma Mia was the smash Broadway hit musical based entirely on songs made famous by the Swedish disco-era superstar pop band ABBA. The musical, set on a Greek island and featuring about 25 of ABBA’s best known songs worked into the story line, came out in 1999. The film adaptation, about ten years later, stars Oscar winner Meryl Streep, Pierce Brosnan, Colin Firth, Amanda Seyfried, Christine Baranski and the always hilarious Julie Walters. Now there’s a sing-a-long version, and the Cascade will show it on the big screen Sunday, February 10th at 7:30pm.
The sing-a-long version features some help with a bouncing disco ball following the lyrics on screen (and usually there’s someone on stage to get you going too), and everyone’s encouraged to put on their dancing shoes and dress the part, dance in the aisles (and sometimes on stage), and get into it Rocky Horror Picture Show-style (without the rice and toast). It’s a fun, interactive event for folks who’ve been waiting for the chance to bust out their best Dancing Queen disco moves from the 70’s and aren’t afraid of getting silly. And to help get you silly, the bar will be open, serving creative drink specials. Maybe you could even help us come up with some theme drink ideas in the comment section below. Even if you don’t have a drink idea to offer, if you leave a comment below, you’ll be entered into a drawing for a pair of tickets to the Mamma Mia Sing-A-Long film event! We’ll announce the winner next week, allowing plenty of time for you to find a date. Or be a Super Trouper and bring a whole gang!
In the meantime, enjoy today’s Broadway & Film musical extravaganza Grooveshark Playlist here or by clicking on the play button below.
- Mamma Mia – Mamma Mia!
- Greased Lightning – Grease
- A Hard Knock Life – Annie
- Cruella De Vil – 101 Dalmatians
- Thoroughly Modern Millie – Thoroughly Modern Millie
- Popular – Wicked
- Sweet Transvestite – Rocky Horror Picture Show the original sing-a-long musical!
- Mean Green Mother from Outer Space – Little Shop of Horrors
- Master of the House – Les Miserables
- If I Were A Rich Man – Fiddler On The Roof
- Arabian Nights – Aladdin
- You Won’t Succeed On Broadway – Monty Python’s Spamalot
- The Rain In Spain – My Fair Lady
- Good Morning Baltimore – Hairspray
- Suddenly Seymour – Little Shop of Horrors
- Memory – Cats Can you believe I’ve never seen this?
- Overture & All That Jazz – Chicago
- Cool – West Side Story
- Hey Big Spender – Sweet Charity True story: When I was in the 9th grade, my friend Elaine and I would dance our way to school down the street, singing this song at the top of our lungs. Well, this and the Dr. Pepper song.
- Razzle Dazzle – Chicago
- Any Way You Want It/I Wanna Rock – Rock of Ages
- The Pirates Who Don’t Do Anything – Veggietales You may be thinking that this doesn’t qualify, but it does! The creators of this amazing animated musical series also came out with a live Veggietales stage show some years ago. It even played the Cascade Theatre. Yep, I was there, and yep, I sang this song real loud! I think I still have my backstage VIP pass. Don’t judge me!
- Fred – Once Upon A Mattress
- A Bushel & A Peck – Guys & Dolls
- Gigi – Gigi
- Oh What A Beautiful Morning – Oklahoma
- Sixteen Going on 17 – Sound of Music My mom tells me this is the first musical I ever attended, but since I was still in her womb, I don’t really remember it.
- Be Our Guest – Beauty & The Beast
- Brush Up Your Shakespeare – Kiss Me Kate The first musical I actually remember seeing as a kid, and this song has stuck in my memory for about 40 years.
- The Fart Song – Lion King Sorry, couldn’t help it. I made chili for dinner tonight.
- I Just Can’t Wait To Be King – Lion King
- Get’cha Head In The Game – High School Musical Kudos to the folks who thought of using the sounds heart on a basketball court as musical elements for this song.
- Take A Chance On Me – Mamma Mia! I hope you’ll take a chance on attending this super fun event at the Cascade Theatre. Don’t forget…Sunday, February 10th, 7:30pm. Drink specials…costume contests…prizes…dancing is actually encouraged in the aisles! Get tickets here.
She’s often spotted driving around town singing at the top of her lungs to new wave hits from the 80’s, but at work Valerie hosts the afternoon classical show Siskiyou Music Hall (at 90.9 FM in Shasta County or streaming at ijpr.org).