A few weeks ago, I accidentally attended a Palm Sunday liturgy where the Gospel reading was enacted by the 8th grade class.  Well, I didn't attend mass by accident, it just wasn't my usual time or parish. I had spent the morning giving a presentation on human trafficking at the local synagogue, so I attended a Sunday evening mass in a nearby parish.

While parts of the Gospel reading were enacted by the young people, quite capably in fact, other parts were sung, also quite capably.  It was essentially a musical, a tastefully done yet no doubt Glee-inspired musical rendition of the passion.

I must admit that I am a sucker for a good musical, and truth be told even those that are not so good. When I was in elementary school, the neighborhood protestant church performed Godspell one summer.  I remember going repeatedly.  I don't know that it was the highest quality of production, but I just really enjoy musicals.

Of course it probably helps that my Dad loves musicals.  I grew up on the classics.  On the Town. Camelot. South Pacific.  We'd often have the soundtrack from musicals playing on the stereo, or "hi-fi" as my Dad was fond of calling it.  Whenever the Sound of Music or West Side Story were on tv, we'd be able to stay up late and my sister and I would spend the next day re-enacting the scenes (for the record, she was and is a much better singer than I ever will be).  Then we got a VCR, and I was exposed to the amazing film productions of Oklahoma and American in Paris, with my all-time favorite dance sequence by Gene Kelley.  Wow.

In later years, I was lucky enough to see some live productions of a higher caliber than the neighborhood version of Godspell. 42nd Street. Cats. Les Miserables.  The wonder and power and beauty of song somehow gave a new depth and understanding to our shared human experience.  That's the best way I can explain why I love musicals so much.

On the big screen, I've enjoyed renditions of classics like Chicago.  Not to mention more adventurous endeavors like Moulin Rouge, where Ewan McGregor--my movie boyfriend--sang just to me (or so it seemed.)

In recent years, of course, tv musicals have made a smash.  One of the most recent varieties of tv musical is actually called  Smash.  While shows of this variety are entertaining (I did just stay up past my bedtime to watch it and am now staying up even later to write a Smash inspired blog post), they are a far cry from the wide reaching power of a good musical of the Rogers & Hart (or Rogers & Hammerstein) variety.

Yet they also keep the tradition alive and expose new generations to the wonder of implausibly breaking into song or even the occasional choreographed dream sequence.  I'll admit, there have been days of late when I've thought something of that sort would help my own life and our contemporary shared human experience make a little more sense.

Until that happens, and given my own lack of musical ability not to mention limited dance skills, I guess I'll have to make do with watching Music Man during periodic PBS fundraising drives and catching up on the latest prime time flavors of musicality.

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