All I Need to Know In Life I Learned From Musicals

In Motherhood, Parenting by Jen52 Comments

I might have been a strange kid, but some of my earliest TV/movie memories are of musicals.The thrill of watching Rodgers and Hammerstein, Andrew Lloyd Webber and more filled my little heart with happiness. I loved the dancing, the color, the costumes and of course the music.

As perhaps would be expected, watching these musical “dramas” provided much learning to my young mind. Now as an adult I think that many of the lessons learned at the hands of musicals have stayed with me and indeed shaped and influenced quite a few well guarded opinions.

Let’s start off talking about West Side Story.

I remember as a 5 year old coming home from kindergarten and popping in my beloved VHS copy of West Side Story. I am fairly sure I might have been one of the only 5 year olds’ in America who did this.

As a little Hispanic girl I was in love with Bernardo, the leader of the Puerto Rican gang. Oh he was handsome!

The dancing, singing, swirling colors, people and lights were entrancing. For a little girl the love story was meh, but there WERE some life lessons to be learned…..

LESSON LEARNED: Love can be hard and gangs are bad.

Pretty important life lesson wouldn’t you say?

Now onto another great.

My mother and Father were children of the radio era, before there was TV. They had grown up with the fantastical adventures of Little Orphan Annie and when this movie came out they were more than enthused to introduce this heroine of their childhood to their own children.

Here’s another reason, take a look at a picture of me circa somewhere in the very early 80’s.

Is it any wonder I felt a kinship with Annie?

I was once gifted a nicely framed Annie movie poster for one of my birthdays. This poster has moved with me as I have grown, hanging in every house and still hangs in my house today.

Who doesn’t enjoy watching Annie’s hard luck story bloom into a fairytale? I was not an orphan, but my little mind conjured up all kinds of scenarios with someone like Daddy Warbucks taking me in, giving me a pony, elephants and you know all of the other traditional presents parents give their children……..

LESSON LEARNED: Curly headed girls rock, the Depression era sucked and the sun will come out tomorrow.

Next up!

Little tidbit of trivia for you, but did you know that Oklahoma was filmed throughout multiple areas of southern Arizona?

I did!

Once when I was a little girl my Father knowing how much I loved this movie rendition did some research and took me to see the home of Aunt Eller and Laurey in the movie. I still can remember peeking in the dusty windows of the now abandoned and derelict farmhouse. Yep, this is why the word awesome-sauce was created!

Also, do you remember the train in the scene where Will sings, “Everything Is Up To Date In Kansas City”? Well if you visit my hometown you can still visit the train today.

LESSON LEARNED: Beware creepy stalker guys and it’s OK to say no.

Note from Jen’s Guy-  I can attest that she learned the “No” lesson very well as a young woman. . .

Note from Jen-  He’s just lucky I let the “no stalking” thing slide just a bit before I finally went out with him.

Moving onto this beloved classic.

Set in the awe inspiring landscape of Austria we are introduced to the young novice Maria on her journey to adulthood. The unfolding events surrounding the rise of the Nazi party to power is also an important part of the musical. Julie Andrews is magical in this role and there is no way you can’t become completely absorbed in this story as she and her new husband attempt to flee in order to keep their family safe from the Nazis and the war.

LESSON LEARNED: Never let your daughter date a Nazi.

And you know this had to be a part of this list.

Grease is the word, right?

When the sweet Australian Sandy Moves to a new town and meets her old greaser flame Danny at Rydell High their romance sets in motion a whole flotilla of unintended side effects.

As a much older person I have now re watched this movie with new eyes, wondering what in the heck my parents were thinking when they let me watch this as a little girl? This musical definitely brought raunchy fun to a whole new level.

LESSON LEARNED: Curly headed girls are hot and stay away from greasers.

Note from Jen’s Guy-  I’m not exactly sure that it was her curly hair that turned Olivia Newton John into every man’s fantasy. . .

Note from Jen-  You take away YOUR lessons, I’ll take away mine.

Additional lesson- Friends don’t let friends watch Grease 2.

Stay Happy! Stay Informed!



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  1. Loved this as I totally also grew up on the likes of Annie and Grease, too. By the way, I just read that they are remaking Grease for a live TV special like they did with Carrie Underwood and The Sound of Music.
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  2. Oh, my sweet goodness – I am laughing so hard I can barely see through the tears in my eyes to type! “Never let your daughter date a Nazi – now that’s sound advice.”

    I will say that one of my favorites was left off: The Phantom of the Opera. That one scared me, even as I fell in love with it.

    It’s amazing how strong genes are because you look exactly like your little one – or she looks like you. :) Thanks for the laughs!
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    1. Good life lesson eh? Nazis at the dinner table would make for bad dynamics.

      I do love Phantom of the Opera as well, but I had a hard time coming up with a lesson. He turned so violent and bad at the end. So the lesson learned, “Be nice, but only nice enough”. Or ” Don’t go in people’s sewer homes”….
      Jen recently posted…All I Need to Know In Life I Learned From MusicalsMy Profile

  3. Thank you for a wonderful long laugh, Jen!! Love all of this :). You really were Annie! Fabulous childhood picture, my friend. I loved her. I’m ashamed to say I haven’t seen West Side Story, Oklahoma, or The Sound of Music. I know that’s absolutely insane. I was obsessed with Grease though! I mean crazy obsessed. And you are so right, “Friends don’t let friends watch Grease 2.” Amen.
    Can I ask what social sharing plug in you use at the beginning of your posts. I use the one that comes with Jetpack and it never shows numbers for Pinterest or G+ even when I know it’s been shared on them. Thanks!
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      1. Thanks! I will check into Shareaholic. I’m wanting to revise some areas of my site in the next couple of months. I’ll definitely watch those movies soon. I absolutely love escaping into a movie :).
        Candace recently posted…DIY IKEA Hack Mudroom LockersMy Profile

  4. Oh yes. Bernardo was handsome!
    I do confess that I have seen Grease 2 but I couldn’t tell you a thing about it. I thought your lesson about Grease 1 would be about not getting pregnant by greasers!
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  5. Ok, I loved watching Sound of Music with my Grandma every Christmas, that was a Christmas movie. I will admit this here and ONLY HERE….. I so remember sneaking off to watch Grease in the theater and then my girlfriends and I reenacting all of the scenes!!!!! I was a Pink Lady and I was Sandy!!!!! Oh Sandy……. I LOVE THAT MOVIE!!!!!!!! The 80’s bought curls to my hair too!!!!!!!
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      I think everyone had curls in the 80″s and big bangs, right? We just weren’t a complete person without it!

      you are definitely not alone. I too did my fair share of acting out Grease. My cousins siblings and I would take turns being greasers and pink ladies and singing the songs. I think our mothers probably needed ear plugs to block out the far bad renditions we did!
      Jen recently posted…All I Need to Know In Life I Learned From MusicalsMy Profile

  6. I love the picture of you looking like Annie. So cute! My friend’s favorite movie is Grease, but she won’t show her kids. A lot of the movies I watched growing up have surprised me when I’ve tried to watch them again!
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      I know! I was embarrassed when I sat down to watch Grease with my daughter several years ago and had to turn it off!
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        Oh you mean the little girl with the curly hair Shirley Temple? She was another much loved character in my childhood home. How have I not sat down and watched some of her movies with my children? That needs to be rectified STAT. You go ahead and watch your musicals and I will be binge watching Shirley Temple movies with my children!
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      Oh yes, not big on reforming guys myself. Other than having to teach the whole put the toilet lid down lesson:) Is that considered a reformation?
      Jen recently posted…Just A MomMy Profile

  7. These are great lessons!! Now I”m sad that I don’t have curly hair!! Boohoo! My kids love musicals an dI love introducing them to the kids. They’ll happily watch a musical just like any other movie. Only, they get all the songs stuck in their head and sing them for the next month!
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      Haha!! Yes everyone wants curly hair nowadays. That is why that fad went away in the 80’s and hasn’t come back!
      Jen recently posted…Just A MomMy Profile

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      As long as you take the lesson away to NEVER let your daughter date a Nazi or a greaser we can still be friends.
      Jen recently posted…Just A MomMy Profile

  8. Hi Jen, I’ve never been too much of a fan of musicals except for West Side Story and Grease (religiously watched as an older teenager after a night out with friends!). I can’t watch Annie it’s just too cringe worthy for my liking (does that make me a bad person?)

    You are so right about Grease 2, I won’t even let my daughter watch it. I remember feeling totally let down after watching it and I refuse to knowingly allow my daughter to feel like that too….Bad just doesn’t accurately describe that film!
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      Grease 2 is a total let down. I watched it once and that was enough. Never again!! Good choice not letting your daughter watch it either. Now about the Annie thing……..
      Jen recently posted…Just A MomMy Profile

      1. These are awesome! I love every one. In middle school, I was very interested in musicals, so my sister and I rented (doesn’t that sound old and odd?) a bunch and were on a musical kick for several years. It feels so good to belt out these tunes every once in a while. Sound of Music and West Side Story — have both soundtracks on CD; Annie — I still have the record album!!! And Grease is my daughter’s absolute favorite — very hard to find items with Grease! I love the life lessons you listed, too. I still cannot watch the end of WSS — I just think it could have ended differently. Couldn’t they just have run away together?!?

        And Grease 2? My daughter keeps requesting to watch it, and having had HBO back in the day and watching the awful movie whenever it was on, I just cannot bear to watch it anymore!

        Love this!
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          Don’t you think the only way you could even get a copy of Grease 2 would be to buy it online somewhere? That would be a total waste of money! For all we know Michelle Pfeiffer might have paid off the movie studio to never release that movie again!
          Jen recently posted…Just A MomMy Profile

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      Bye Bye Birdie is a good one too! There are so many I could have added to this list that were equally loved. I kind of wish the world hadn’t ever had to endure Grease 2, one of the worst movies ever made. Well that and Howard the Duck!
      Jen recently posted…Just A MomMy Profile

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