Is Wilfair a Musical?

I got to write about two of my creative idols for work this morning so I'm in an extra sunny space.

Alan Menken and Richard Sherman, two of the musical forces behind much of the Disney musical catalog, helped co-write the songs in "The Little Mermaid" and "Mary Poppins" and dozens of iconic movies. (Mr. Menken wrote the music for "Mermaid" with the great Howard Ashman, of course, and Mr. Sherman wrote with his brother Robert.)

Soundtracks? I love them. Scores? I love them. Stage musicals? I love them. Do you, too? I know you do. Kelly, I'm looking at you, and a few other readers 'round Wilfair HQ. Tell me your favorite in the comments!

Me? If I haven't hummed a song from "The Sound of Music" or "West Side Story" or "Little Shop of Horrors" or "Grease" in the past week then please feel free to put a hand to my forehead and see if I'm feeling all right.

So here's a weird thought I have from time to time: I do wonder if I'm a slightly frustrated wannabe composer or lyricist, a career path I never considered taking because I didn't have the musical chops.

And so I do believe that Wilfair might be a secret non-musical musical, at least inside my heart.

I wrote about Fair Finley's "I Want" song a year ago (the "I Want" song is an important component in any music-filled production, of course). And I could probably name a few parts in the books that correspond to musical-type beats.

But here's my biggest piece of personal evidence: I'll be typing typing typing and I'll get to an important conversation and think "here's where Fair sings" or "here's Gomery's refrain" or "this is the big dance number" when there is actually no big dance number, technically.

(The Fair yelling "yell" parts? All musical in my mind.)

If I told you I haven't sat at my computer and spread my arms wide to some phantom theater audience, stage-style, during certain parts of the books, in the manner that Liza Minnelli might have in "Cabaret," then I'm 1000% fibbing.

How Amy Adams holds her arms in this clip from "Enchanted" is exactly how I sometimes hold mine when I reach a portion of the book that feels like a character is singing.

True truth time.

Yep, it's a song that Alan Menken composed, and its over-the-top-y, dance-number-ish musical vibe is a vibe I try to apply to the Wilfair world, even though there's no dancing or singing.



Amanda W said...

Hurray for musicals! I don't think I can pick a favorite, but my most recent obsession has been Wicked. I also have a big soft spot for Julie Andrews (see: Mary Poppins, Sound of Music). I once saw a performance of Oliver with Davey Jones playing Fagan -- pre-teen dream come true!! (I was a big Monkeys re-run fan) Anyway...I love them. Screen, stage, animated...doesn't matter.

Oh, and one funny musical story: our local theatre was doing a production of South Pacific. My friend Julie asks her husband if he wants to go see the Sunday matinee (which my friend Nicole and I were headed to). He says -- never heard of it, what is it. Julie says -- it's a play. Set during WWII. Husband says -- cool, let's go. Well, the lost-in-translation of that exchange means husband is expecting to go see a play about war. Needless to say...not what he expected. His reaction at the first number was PRICELESS.

Wilfair Book said...

Ha ha ha. What did Julie's husband think when the opening chords of "I'm Gonna Wash That Man Right Outta My Hair" started up? :)

JULIE. ANDREWS. That is all. Life sometimes takes me to the Disney lot here in Burbank, and whenever I pass Soundstage 2, where "Mary Poppins" filmed, I literally have to pause and just breathe the air around it.

Soundstage 2 is the designated "Julie Andrews Stage" by the way, which is too cool.

I'm a huge Monkees fan, too! "Daydream Believer" is on the Wilfair mega playlist.

Wilfair Book said...

Amanda, I think we both need to watch this video right now and feel its happy power. Davy Jones 4evr! I have a soft spot for all the guys, truth be told.

Ginny said...

RENT is my all time favorite. Wicked is a close second. When it was in town last fall I managed to score lottery tickets twice. :) I brought my son to see it the first time, it was amazing that his first musical experience was in the front row! We also ended up getting a backstage tour, it was awesome!

Other favorites include Avenue Q and anything Disney!

Amanda W said...

That video made my morning! Thank you. :) And it reminded me that I can credit The Monkees with my desire to be the tambourine player in a band.

Oh, and Doc's (Julie's husband) reaction to "Wash that man right outa my hair" was -- to quote -- "what the crap?!"

Ginny, I've never seen Rent, but it's on my list.

Erika said...

Musicals, *happy sigh*, this blog rocks. I come from a musical loving family so they are an I reveal part of my childhood. Have you guys seen Seven Brides for Seven Brothers or The Happiest Millionaire? They were big staples in my house. My sister and I actually started singing at the breakfast table while she visited this weekend, what's more is that my mom prompted it with a sly comment. "There are those... I suppose."

Erika said...

Integral part*. I have no idea why that corrected to I reveal

bess said...

I have two potentially embarassing comments:

Davey Jones was my first, human celebrity crush (the very first being Floyd, the guitarist Muppet)

My favorite musical, corny as it is, is The Music Man. I love it so. I have my mom's old, very scratched record of the Broadway recording that I sing along to when I'm alone in the house. More movies should have musical interludes!

do dah said...

bess, you get so many awesome points for having a first crush on a muppet. seriously. awesome.

Kelly said...

Musicals! Scores! Soundtracks!! ***Pausing to restrain myself from writing a 5000 word essay on this subject***

Wilfair would be so perfect as a musical, if I had any song writing ability I would start work on it immediately!

Enchanted is great, I’m always surprised that it isn’t more popular, and that scene in particular is so joyful, it’s almost impossible to feel sad after watching it. There’s a gif of the scene where James Marsden jumps off the bridge to start singing only to get knocked down by all the bikes that is so perfect for expressing a particular kind of feeling, my colleague and I always send it to each other when we’re having a bad day at work.

Don’t know if I can pick one favourite, but Les Mis is probably the first one I loved, since my mum had a tape that we always played in the car, so I knew all the words, and then I went to see it when I was about 10, and I remember being completely in awe of the power of the voices. I love Wicked as well, and Hairspray, and the new Matilda musical is amazing. Even though the plot’s pretty thin, I’m predisposed to love We Will Rock You, since you can’t go wrong with Queen songs.

For movie musicals, growing up I was obsessed with Annie, Oliver and Grease, and of course all the Disney movies. Funny Girl, West Side Story, Calamity Jane, and Singing in the rain are some of my favourite duvet day movies.

I’m a big fan of a good soundtrack too. The Django unchained one was great, the soundtrack for Perks of Being a Wallflower was so perfect for the film, and the Cruel Intentions soundtrack is still one of favourite albums.

I could continue listing things for days, but this is getting too long already, and I now have the urge to call up my little sister for a mutual sing-along to Part of Your World!

Wilfair Book said...

Ginny: I've never seen "RENT" on stage but must! I really liked the movie and the songs. Jonathan Larson, awww. What talent. Would love a backstage tour of anything. Neeearly saw "Avenue Q" but had to leave town and give my ticket away. Also on my list! And "Wicked" is the best, of course.

Amanda: I know, right? Davy and his tambourine. That dance he does in the video, too, should be trademarked and patented. My affection for the Monkees is so strong. Watching that video again reminded me how much I love zany guys, and why there are some zany guys and/or zany guy behavior in the books.

Have you seen all the shows? Seriously. I'm your go-to girl to talk all Monkee-based matters.

Erika: Good choices. Did you catch the "Seven Brides for Seven Brothers" reference in this little Wilfair prequel I put on the blog? Not far from the top:

Just added "The Happiest Millionaire" to the Netflix queue. I feel like I saw it when I was a little kid but I need to revisit!

Hold. The. Phone. Beyond enjoying the fabulous Geraldine Page in the video you shared, I see Tommy Steele as the butler! WHAT. Be still my happy heart. He played the leprechaun in "Finian's Rainbow" and was one of my first girlhood favorites. I need to re-see this movie immediately!

bess, hang tight: I'm building a whole post around your admission that a Muppet was your first crush. OH YES I AM.

Also, "The Music Man"? Eyes rolling back in head. I can't even take my extreme love. Robert Preston! Shirley Jones! Fair Finley's favorite flower, which has actually never been named in the books or here at Wilfair HQ, is a tribute to a character name in "The Music Man." I bet you can guess it. :)

do dah: SO agree. That's why we're going to have a post all about first crushes, yay!

Kelly: You can send me a 5,000-word essay on your devotion to musicals any time and I will write you a 5,000-word reply. Oh my gosh. James Marsden just is ALL IN in "Enchanted." Bravo to him. It's a silly role but he owns the silliness, which is essential to that character really working.

Enjoyed reading all of your favorites. So sweet regarding "Les Mis." My mom was/is a huge "A Chorus Line" fan so I knew all the words from a very early age, because she, too, would play it in the car. Do you know the lyrics to "Dance 10/Looks 3"? Mayyyybe not so child-appropriate but my awesome mom figured I wouldn't understand the adult themes (I didn't) but would love the thrill of singing it, loudly, in the car (I did).

"Annie," "Oliver," "Grease"? Yes to all that. I was singing "Maybe" while standing in a long line the other day, just to pass the time. I know my other line neighbors really, really enjoyed my warbling interpretation. :) "Maybe" is probably my favorite "Annie" song, but that's tough. They're all spectacular.

"Django" is excellent but haven't listened to "Perks" -- I shall.

Oh, and "Part of Your World"! Here's my favorite line from that song: "...bright young women, sick of swimmin', ready to staaaaaaaaand."

WOW. Amazing rhyming skillz, Howard Ashman! Too much.

Okay, so my secret is officially out: I will talk about musicals any time, any place, with everyone here, and never, ever tire of doing so! :)

Elisa said...

I love musicals! My mom is a huge fan of musicals so I grew up watching them. In fact, my name (Elisa) is from Paint Your Wagon. In the Meeks' house the kids are also avid music fans. My daughter tends to turn everything into a song. She is currently obsessed with ABBA and Mama Mia. She can sing the whole Mama Mia song from start to finish. We also love to watch any cartoons that are musical which puts The Backyardigans at the top of our viewing list. And whoever writes to songs for the Bubble Guppies is a genius because those songs are catchy! You should all Youtube for the supermarket song if you don't believe me :-)

Wilfair Book said...

Elisa: Holy. Cow. I just went and listened to "I Still See Elisa" (sung by none other than Clint Eastwood). What a terrific legacy your name has! Now I'm wondering about the origins of everyone's names. Maybe an interesting post.

I, too, am a massive ABBA fan. "Take a Chance on Me" has been my song of the month. I'm impressed your daughter knows "Mamma Mia" from beginning to end!

Uh, yeah, I went and looked up the supermarket song. I take my comment suggestions *very* seriously.

It's catchy! So catchy it'll be in my nargin all weekend. Super-super-supermarket!

Nikki said...

Would it be even remotely surprising to say that the first things that came to my mind were Dr. Horrible (+ commentary) and the musical episode of Buffy? Yeah, probably not. ;)

Any Disney movie, animated or otherwise, is a welcome sound around here. Particularly fond of Mary Poppins. Around 9 years old, I found the sheet music at a family-friend's house and attempted (key word, there) to play some "Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious" on the piano. I once bought a recorder because it came with the music for Little Mermaid and likely annoyed my mother to death with my endless playing.

I have fond memories of singing along to an old Grease LP when I was home along. A few years ago, Showtime did a musical of Reefer Madness starring Kristen Bell and the songs are super amusing. One of my all time favorites, though? Annie. Hands down. I used to stay up late to rewatch it and sing along. Alysia, "Maybe" is also my favorite! "Little Girls" is probably second.

A friend recommended Sondheim's Into the Woods last year and it was a lot of fun! And currently streaming of Netflix.

Wilfair Book said...

"Dr. Horrible" is the perfect choice, Nikki! The songs are definitely of the "throw your arms wide" variety.

I was just missing my recorder the other day. So much so I was half tempted to dig through some boxes in storage and unearth it. Basically I know "Old McDonald Had a Farm" and a few other classics, but I'd love to rock "The Little Mermaid" on it.

How did I miss that Showtime musical? And Kristen Bell??? Thanks for putting that in my world.

Yay, "Maybe" is the best! Off to listen to it three times in a row.

So is Sondheim, though. What a standard-setter. (Is that a term?) "Into the Woods" was one of my high school favorites, and I think I wrote a lot of little stories that were basically fanfics of it, though I didn't know that at the time.

Amanda W said...

Nikki, whenever someone says the phrase "I've got a theory"....yeah, I'll bet you know what happens. :) And if it happens when I'm around my husband, whoever said it pretty much gets treated to the whole song.

Wilfair Book said...

Gold-star-ing your comment in my heart, Amanda!

Nikki said...

I'm surprised Rocky Horror Picture Show hasn't been mentioned. 'Time Warp' seems sort of iconic, after all.

There are a whole slew of amazing people in the Reefer Madness musical, by the way, Kristen Bell is just one of my absolute favorites. She is the main reason, besides the music element, that we were so eager to watch it in the first place. I do hope you find it, watch it, and enjoy it as much as we do.

Amanda - We have the same reaction to hearing the phrase "I've got a theory..."! My boyfriend does the same thing as your husband. Is he like that with a lot of songs, 'cause my guy sure is! Anything with a melody will get stuck in his head, even commercial jingles. And he's also notorious for changing the lyrics to tell silly stories, usually about the pets or whatever mundane thing is going on at the time.

Wilfair Book said...

Nikki! "Rocky Horror"! Oh hell yes. Tim Curry in fishnets and eyeliner? Major swoon. And "Dammit, Janet" is fantastic.

I will check out "Reefer Madness" for sure! Did you see Kristen Bell in "Party Down"? Oh my gosh. She stole every scene, especially the one where she asks Henry (Adam Scott) out.

Just saw her in "Burning Love," too. Comedy Central I think. Effortlessly funny.

And yep, I do take recommendations seriously...

Because Erika: We watched "The Happiest Millionaire"! The songs, the old-fashioned look, alligators, eccentric families, hooray!

I think the maid was the first nanny candidate in "Mary Poppins," too, if I'm not mistaken? I need to do some reading up.

Tommy Steele DID NOT disappoint. He's full of sparkle.

"There Are Those" is my favorite song but "Fortuoisity" was catchy, too.

Ohhh, and "Valentine Candy," Cordie's song about growing up, tugged the heart strings, too.

Thank you so much! What a treat. This was a perfect Casa Painter film. And I do recall seeing it as a tot, but it all felt new again.

Nikki said...

Can you picture Giles in fishnets and eyeliner? Cause, yeah, Anthony Stewart Head played Frank in one of the stage versions. Tim Curry will always be my Frank (too perfect) but I would love to see that stage show!

We had a local theater that, for 24 years, ran midnight screenings of RHPS complete with costumes, props, stage actors mimicking the scenes on the screen behind them, and - of course - audience participation. It was a blast.

Party Down is on my list of things to watch and, thank you, because I keep forgetting to go back and watch Burning Love. It started as a webseries and I've only seen the first episode or two. Once had the link on my toolbar, but it slowly got shuffled further down the list.

Wilfair Book said...

Holy wow! I had no idea about Anthony Stewart Head playing that role. I'm going to be Googling images very soon, believe it.

Every city needs that one theater that'll love on RHPS, if not weekly, then at least monthly. Monty Overbove mentioned going with Sutton to a midnight movie (in "Stay Awhile") and I hope that's one they choose. It's running at the Nuart Theatre, Saturdays at midnight, about 20 minutes west of the motel/hotel.

You sound like me. I have so many things in my queue that tempt! It's a rich life, full of things to watch and read and enjoy. Aaaaand repeat. :)

Nikki said...

Here's something better than images: he did some karaoke for the 25th anniversary special from VH1. In costume.

I'm so sad we no longer have a theater that does the RHPS shows. But I will live vicariously through the idea that Monty and Sutton will indeed go to their midnight screening, in costume. ;)

So much yes, to the rich life of things to enjoy! I want to take it all in because, otherwise, I might miss out on something pretty amazing. Stories... that's where I get adventurous.

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