Top 5 Musical Movie Universes

Written by Emily Stewart July 31, 2013


The design of musicals is captivating whether on the theatre stage or the big screen. Musicals can take place anywhere at any time – but no matter what the production team creates a whole new universe for audiences to interact with. From the costumes to the props to soundtrack, a lot of teamwork is put in to create an entertaining show. While I prefer musicals performed on the stage, I’ll usually want to buy a ticket for a film musical adaptation. What film crews can do to recreate the costumes, sets, props and make-up of their stage companion is fascinating. Here are my top 5 musical movie universes.

5. “Hairspray” (2007)


The remake of “Hairspray” is the cheesiest on my list. Although the musical isn’t really about the hair product, it couldn’t be more obvious the characters use it frequently. The bright and colourful costumes are fun and complement the catchy soundtrack. They also provide a nice contrast to the human rights message of the musical and the 1960s. The decade was known for their revolution for civil rights, and “Hairspray” shows the importance of equality in the entertainment industry.

4. “Mamma Mia!” (2008)

Film Title: Mamma Mia!

The setting of “Mamma Mia!” is one of the most gorgeous film settings of all time. The hotel’s stone architecture makes it the perfect place for Sophie’s (Amanda Seyfried) almost-wedding – or any wedding for that matter; the water by the island is always glistening and clean. A great chunk of the film is spent nearby the ocean. Whether the characters are on a sailboat or by the beach, it is tempting to dip in and go for a swim. I’d actually love to go on vacation here.

3. “Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog” (2008)


A primary setting in “Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog” is very familiar. You are looking at it right now, in fact. Confused? It’s a computer screen. Dr. Horrible (Neil Patrick Harris) will monologue to a computer screen as if he were a “YouTube” star making a video blog entry. The mini-series also represents the conventions of superhero cinema; those with extraordinary powers fighting in (usually) ordinary worlds. What’s special about the short musical is that it makes you want to cheer for Dr. Horrible instead of Captain Hammer. Then again, who wouldn’t cheer for Neil Patrick Harris?

2. “Les Miserables” (2012)


Yes, this film is on my “Top 5” list again. Honestly, this is one of my favourite films and musicals of all time. The cinematography is incredible, and is done in a way where it’s like you are as close to the play as possible. The use of colour is especially well-done, capturing the misery and despair of the time period and of the characters. Not to mention the entire dialogue is the soundtrack. It’s a bit of a shock this isn’t on the top spot, isn’t it? “Les Misreables” would be number one on this list, if it wasn’t for…

1. “Mary Poppins” (1964)

Mary Poppins

“Mary Poppins” defined my early childhood; I went through a phase as a kid when I pretended to be her. A lot of out-of-ordinary things happen in this film. Mary Poppins (Julie Andrews), Bert (Dick Van Dyke) and the Banks children (Karen Dotrice and Matthew Garber) interact with a cartoon world at one point in the film. The combination of live- and animated-film is a creative concept in the film world, and one that should be used more often. Aside from that, there are pieces of furniture moving around with a snap of a finger. Supercalifragilisticexpialadocious indeed.

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About Emily Stewart

Emily is a Media, Information and Technoculture student at Western University who likes to put her critical thinking skills and passion for writing to good use, including reviewing TV shows for We Eat Films.

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