Why We Need New Musicals

The Wiz

Flowers are blooming, filling the air with their pollen and destroying the allergies of everyone from Florida to New York. Birds are chirping in excitement about the fact that the long winter is over, and creeps across the country are preparing to savor the rear view of every pretty round brown in a sundress. It's official. Spring has sprung, y'all.

What would spring be without the beautiful harmonies of music, filling the air, coaxing us out of our hibernation and into the beauty of the full sunlight? And nothing says "printemps" to me like a good old fashioned musical. Not just movies that are music-themed, such as The Five Heartbeats, Sister Act, Cadillac Records, and soon the Sparkle remake. This may sound cheesy, but musicals, in all their glory, are soooo much fun. True, they may require a large suspension of belief to buy people bursting into song and dancing in the street at random, but the campiness is downright delightful. Why can't there be more that black folks would actually dig?

Of course, The Sound of Music is a standard musical beloved across the racial divide. So many bangers are on that album, from "The Sound of Music" to "Sixteen Going on Seventeen" to "Maria." This musical explored the themes of family and growth over the backdrop of a pretty heavy issue (World War II). Julie Andrews was fun, warm, and lovely. The children were singing and dancing bundles of cute. Their father was dashing. It was just dreamy. There's just not that level of storytelling with a musical twist in it anymore.

But before The Sound of Music, there was the chocolate remix of George Bizet's Carmen, featuring Dorothy Dandridge's timeless banging-ness and Harry Belafonte's sexy island charm in full effect. The fact that Dottie lip-synched for her life made no difference -- she smoldered alongside her co-stars, and that temptation scene in the mess hall was totally believable. Come on black people, we have done this well before; we could definitely make lightning strike twice. Even in the not-too-distant past, musicals like Moulin Rouge and Hairspray have stoked our nostalgia for all storylines sung lustily by our main characters. Let's get back to that, because even the most serious issues (war, sex, crime, and race) can be broached with a strong vibrato and a shoulder shimmy.

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