Whilst Musicals are absent from our theatres, we’ve all had to search pretty hard to get our musical theatre fix over the last 12 months.
If you are searching on the Streamers, then it’s getting pretty expensive to subscribe to Netflix, Amazon Prime, Disiney+, NowTV and more! So we celebrate the new wave of advertiser funded video-on-demand platforms that are starting to emerge – from Roku Channel and it’s various free TV stations, to services such as Pluto TV. Available in numerous countries including the UK and US, Pluto TV features a wealth of TV series and movies, which are free to watch, but carry advertising. You know, like in the olden days!
Pluto TV in the US has A LOT more content than in the UK, but fret not: there are ways to access this US content easily. You just need to subscribe to a VPN service – where you can log on to a server in the US rather than the UK. We use NordVPN – which has more servers than anyone else, and is currently running a 68% off special offer. Plus you can also take a look at the US services of Netflix, Amazon et al, to access even more content. The added benefit of getting a VPN is that your IP address is masked, making your computer or device less vulnerable to hacker attacks. And it is important to use a VPN when you are out-and-about using public WiFi, as public WiFi makes your devices extremely vulnerable to attack. So when you are next in Starbucks and logging on to their free WiFi, you need to take precautions!
So, with your VPN all set, log on to Pluto TV via a US server, and enjoy some great movie musicals. Here’s our Top Ten selection.
Pluto TV Top Ten Movie Musicals
The 2009 romantic musical drama film directed and produced by Chicago’s Rob Marshall, which adapted the 1982 stage musical, which adapted Federico Fellini’s semi-autobiographical 1963 film 8½!!! The starry cast includes Daniel Day-Lewis, Marion Cotillard, Penélope Cruz, Judi Dench, Fergie, Kate Hudson, Nicole Kidman and Sophia Loren. It flopped when it launched, but there’s much to love, and hey, it did get four Oscar nominations!
Guys and Dolls
The original and the best, the 1955 movie version of musical classic Guys and Dolls. The cast is eye-watering, with Marlon Brando, Jean Simmons, Frank Sinatra, and Vivian Blaine. Directed by Joseph L. Mankiewicz, who also wrote the screenplay, the Broadway musical had only launched five years earlier, penned by composer and lyricist Frank Loesser, based on two short stories by Damon Runyon. A must-see.
Bette Midler finally got to perform her dream role, with this 1993 made-for-TV musical directed by Emile Ardolino. Arthur Laurents adapted his book of the 1959 stage musical for the movie, which is in turn based on Gypsy Rose Lee’s autobiography.
Bette won the Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – Miniseries or Television Film for the role, and the movie was nominated for an impressive 12 Primetime Emmy Awards.
A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum
A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum came out in 1966 on the back of Stephen Sondheim’s smash-hit Broadway and West End musical, telling the bawdy story of a slave named Pseudolus and his attempts to win his freedom by helping his young master woo the girl next door.
Directed by Richard Lester, the movie saw Zero Mostel and Jack Gilford reprise their stage roles, and also featured Hollywood golden age actors Buster Keaton (in his last film role) and Phil Silvers, plus British comedy golden treasures Michael Crawford, Michael Hordern and Roy Kinnear.
This 2013 American musical comedy-drama was written and directed by John Carney – who directed the movie musical Once (which was also a hit on stage) and Sing Street – which is also to be found on Pluto TV. The musical stars Keira Knightley and Mark Ruffalo, alongside a wider cast that includes Adam Levine, James Corden, Catherine Keener and Hailee Steinfeld.
Most of the music is composed by Gregg Alexander, and the movie was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Original Song for “Lost Stars”.
Fiddler on the Roof
The 1971 American epic musical, produced and directed by Norman Jewison. The movie adapted the 1964 Broadway musical, with music by Jerry Bock, lyrics by Sheldon Harnick, and screenplay by Joseph Stein based on stories by Sholem Aleichem.
Starring Topol, Norma Crane, Leonard Frey, Molly Picon, and Paul Mann, the movie won three Academy Awards, including Best Music, Scoring Adaptation and Original Song Score for arranger-conductor John Williams, and was nominated for several more including Best Picture.
Barbra Streisand went all in on 1983 movie musical Yentl, directing, co-writing, co-producing and starring in the mega-hit, based on Isaac Bashevis Singer’s short story “Yentl the Yeshiva Boy.”
The film featured music composed by Michel Legrand, including the songs “Papa, Can You Hear Me?” and “The Way He Makes Me Feel”, and scooped an Academy Award for Best Original Score, and Golden Globes for Best Motion Picture—Musical or Comedy, and Best Director for Streisand – the first woman to win a Best Director Golden Globe.
Okay, it’s not Grease 1! But there’s much to enjoy in Grease 2 – not least Patricia Birch’s choreography, which she kept true to her original Broadway moves and those of the first movie. Maxwell Caulfield and Michelle Pfeiffer – in her first starring role – did the honours, plus it launched Christopher McDonald upon the world.
It may not have been a critical or box-office smash (is that an understatement?) but there’s a hardcore group of us who will always find something in there to love!
Pal Joey is loosely based on the Rodgers and Hart musical play, and this classic movie musical stars Rita Hayworth, Frank Sinatra, and Kim Novak. George Sidney directed, with choreography by Hermes Pan.
The songs are glorious, with “The Lady is a Tramp”, “I Didn’t Know What Time It Was”, “I Could Write a Book” and “There’s a Small Hotel” all in there. Frank picked up the Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Motion Picture Musical or Comedy for his role, and Pal Joey got four Academy Award nominations.
How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying
Another Frank Loesser musical, this time with a book by Abe Burrows, Jack Weinstock, and Willie Gilbert, based on Shepherd Mead’s 1952 book of the same name. The stage musical ran on Broadway for over 1,400 performances, winning seven Tony Awards. And the movie version followed in 1967, with Robert Morse and Rudy Vallée recreating their stage roles, alongside Michele Lee, Sammy Smith and Ruth Kobart. Bob Fosse also choreographed.
There are also a few choice documentaries on Pluto TV that cover musical theatre. Chiefly amongst them, the two below.
Every Little Step
This 2008 doc, directed by James D. Stern and Adam Del Deo, follows the process of casting the 2006 Broadway revival of A Chorus Line. It’s packed with history about the show, and interviews with the Broadway dancers all vying to be cast, and some of the original cast and creatives of the original production.
The film got great reviews, with Entertainment Weekly giving it an ‘A’, and calling it “a movie as layered and as enthralling as its subject.”
Hamilton – One Shot to Broadway
Sure, you can watch Hamilton on Disney+ at the moment, which is fabulous, but there’s also this 2017 documentary about how a group of inspired mavericks made an unlikely marriage of hip-hop and history, to become the biggest musical in America… and pretty much the world.
The doc is written and directed by Elio Espana.
What else is on Pluto TV?
It would also be remiss of us not to shout-out some of the non-musical content on Pluto TV, that may not have multiple songs, but definitely has a few numbers, and is theatrical in every possible way! Highlights include: Soap Dish; The Cotton Club Encore; The Sapphires; Postcards from the Edge; Shampoo; The Fisher King; Harold & Maude; Prick Up Your Ears; Mommie Dearest; Hans Christian Anderson; Cirque du Soleil – World’s Away; Walking on Sunshine; Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead; Stage Door Canteen; The Dresser; Ladies in Lavender; and Henry V with Kenneth Branagh.
Also watch some movies on Pluto TV that have been turned into musicals – including Amelie, Priscilla Queen of the Desert and Sunset Boulevard.