We all remember our first musical love: that first moment you see the curtain rise, or the first song you belted out the words to in the back of the car. Here’s our countdown of the top ten shows that will help start your children off on their own Musical Theatre journey.
Disney powerhouse Frozen hit cinemas in the winter of 2013 and became an instant classic. Modern Disney at it’s best, with a story about sisterhood and female empowerment – for once it’s not about the Princess and the Prince, but Elsa and Anna’s bond with one another! Adding in the snowman Olaf (the best of Disney comedy sidekicks in years) and the most memorable original Disney score since the mid 90’s – it’s the perfect intro, and will have children singing Let It Go for years and years to come.
9. The Sound of Music
Who could resist Julie Andrews swirling on a mountain, arms outstretched, singing to the clouds? From 9 months to 90, The Sound of Music is the ultimate family musical, with something for every age and generation to fall in love with. With iconic songs like Do Re Mi, The Lonely Goatherd, So Long, Farewell and My Favourite Things, the tunes are enough to entrance any young Broadway Baby. At over three hours, the film is a perhaps a little long for the youngest of children, but it’s the ideal film for little ones to enjoy with the whole family on a long cold rainy Sunday afternoon.
The lesser know musical Honk! by British duo George Stiles and Anthony Drew tells the story of the Ugly Ducking, and is performed in schools and by youth groups all over the globe on a regular basis. A child-friendly, warm-hearted tale with a great message about inner beauty and growing up, with some fabulously funny and heart warming songs, Honk! is a total delight.
7. Into The Woods
Originally produced on Broadway in 1988, this Stephen Sondheim classic is inspired by the Grimm Fairytales (as oppose to their more sanitary Disney versions), so is perhaps more for slightly older children once they want to move on from Let It Go. All the recognizable fairytale characters are here: Rapunzel, Cinderella, Jack and Little Red Riding Hood embark on a journey into the woods to find what they most wish for. What happens when Cinderella’s Prince meets Little Red, and Jack bumps into an Ugly Stepsister? Set to one of Stephen Sondheim’s most hummable scores, a film version was finally released last Christmas boasting stand-out performances from Meryl Streep (as a Witch to terrify the bravest of adults), James Corden, and musical favorite Anna Kendrick. This one is a great intro to the slightly more grown up world of musical theatre through its recognizable characters, stories and brilliant songs.
6. Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat
A Baby Broadway favorite here, with the most colourful of Andrew Webber songs. Originally written for children to perform, what could be a better start to the world of musical theatre than Jason Donovan and a multicoloured coat? Short, snappy and with some of the most memorable songs in musical theatre (plus a mega-mix at the end…a MEGA-MIX!), this one will have every Broadway Baby dancing in the aisles!
5. The Wizard of Oz
Sparkly ruby red slippers, a girl in a gingham dress, a scarecrow, tinman and talking Lion? No Christmas day is complete for any child without following Dorothy as she skips down the Yellow Brick Road. With iconic songs that couldn’t be easier to sing along to, and some of the most iconic visuals in the history of cinema, this is another timeless classic that is perfect for any little one who truly believes that there’s no place like home.
4. Mary Poppins
Is your child Practically Perfect In Every Way? Sit them down in front of this 1964 movie musical classic, staring Julie Andrews (in classic, iconic, sparkling form!) and Dick van Dyke (with a just as iconic, less-than-convincing, cockney accent) – and chances are your little ones will be as angelic as Jane and Michael Banks in no time. Well… maybe not, but Mary Poppins is an icon of musical theatre for a very good reason and never fails to disappoint on every level imaginable!
3. Bugsy Malone
Bugsy Malone is director Alan Parker’s ode to Hollywood gangster films, and with the entire cast under the age of 16, and some fabulously catchy 1920’s style tunes, Bugsy can give Al Capone a run for his money any day in our book! Splurge guns, flappers, a 14-year-old Jodie Foster in her film debut, brilliant fun and action packed from the get-go!
The newest and most modern musical on our list, debuting in London’s West End in 2011, Matilda has very quickly become a modern classic. Adapted by Denis Kelly from Roald Dahl’s book and with songs by comedian Tim Minchin, it is a beautiful new musical about the power of children and imagination. With a cast of stunning child actors (and a few fab adults to boot), dazzling effects and the best new songs to hit the West End in decades, it’s the perfect first theatre trip for children.
1. Chitty Chitty Bang Bang
A flying car! Need we say more. The Childcatcher still haunts our nightmares as adults, but who can resist Hushabye Mountain and a Morris dancing Dick van Dyke (dodgy accent still intact) in Me ‘Ole Bamboo. Based on the books written by James Bond creator Ian Fleming, this 1968 film is an action packed, truly scrumptious musical with some wonderful sing-a-long songs – and did we mention it features a flying car?
Bring your little ones to hear songs from the shows sung by West End performers at a Baby Broadway concert near you – latest events listed here. With thanks to Richard Jones (professional musical theatre geek) for compiling this fabulous list