The BFI Launches its Musicals! The Greatest Show on Screen season

The movie musical is having a resurgence (as it is prone to do in times of hardship) thanks to films like La La Land, Frozen and The Greatest Showman (*cough*awfulrubbish*cough*)

So London’s BFI Southbank is raising its jazz hands and kicking up its heals with a season of films dedicated to movie musicals. Sorry, I mean Musicals! (with an exclamation mark).

Launching the season last night the audience was treated to beautifully restored cinematic moments, guests including stage and screen veteran Clarke Peters, Patricia Ward Kelly (Gene Kelly‘s widow) and British legend Petula Clark and a surprise singalong performance of ‘Oom Pah Pah’ from the film Oliver! featuring the West End Musical Choir in full voice.

Gene Kelly in Singin’ in the Rain

The season of films (which includes screenings and events all around the country) features well known classics like Grease, On The Town and The Sound of Music, to little known international fare such as Oshidori Utagassen / Singing Loverbirds from Japan and Russia’s Kubanskie Kazaki / Cossacks of the Kuban (which we discovered features some very enthusiastic work with combine harvesters).

John Cameron Mitchell in Hedwig & the Angry Inch

Queer musicals are repesented by the likes of The Rocky Horror Picture Show, Hedwig & the Angry Inch and a screening of Channel 4’s Our Gay Wedding: The Musical.

There will be discussions of religion and cinema (along with a screening of Jesus Christ Superstar), New York City in musicals, the legacy of Gene Kelly, gender and sexuality in musicals and the rebirth of the TV musical.

Joel Grey and Liza Minnelli in Cabaret

Bob Fosse fans can binge on Sweet Charity, Cabart and All The Jazz, while Barbra Streisand lovers (I mean, who isn’t?) can catch Funny Girl, Yentl and Hello, Dolly! plus a promised evening of Steisand-oke in the bar afterwards.

The directors cut of Little Shop of Horrors will be followed by a suitably green after party, and there will be a sing-a-long The Little Mermaid hosted by Ariel herself… on rollerskates… obviously….

Audrey 2 in Little Shop of Horrors

Coinciding with the season, the UK will get new bluray releases of Yentl, Les demoiselles de Rouchfort and Hair, while the BFI Player will make highlights from the season available nationwide.

The season is not only a great chance to enjoy movie musicals the way they’re supposed to be seen (on the big screen with a booming sound systems), but the perfect escape from the unrelenting real life horror shows of Brexit and Trump.

Explore the programme and more the BFI’s dedicated Musicals! page.

By Chad Armstrong

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