I’ve heard many people who find secret delight in the idea of living their lives like a musical. You know, where you suddenly break into song and dance when you encounter a pivotal moment in your life, and somehow that meaningful rhythm and music captivates the formerly uninterested bystanders to the point where everyone joins in with the innate ability to dance sinchronically and sing the words as if they’d heard them all their lives, and the mean old lady with the dog jumps into the song with a perfect harmony and a smile on her face, and the otherwise sketch-looking homeless man jumps into the middle of the crowd and performs ridiculous dance stunts no one thought were possible.
That’s a musical.
And if you take away lady with the dog and the garbageman, and you replace the suddenly interested bystanders with bystanders who think you are utterly insane, then you will be able to envision the musical that my family has lived in for as long as I can remember.
My first memories of it are family dance nights. My sisters and I running around and on top of the furniture and somehow still squealing the words to Amy Grant’s “Love can do”, Dad dancing us each around by turn in his arms and sometimes pulling off the daring feat of carrying all three of us together; two in his arms and one on his shoulders (this attempt became more daring as we each got bigger, obviously), Dad catching Mom up in his arms for the slow songs until we stole him away so we could dance on his feet, blasting any music from the oldies records my parents loved to Billy Joel to Amy Grant, Steven Curtis Chapman, and Michael W. Smith, to the Oklahoma soundtrack, to the University of Michigan fight song. Very eclectic.
All our favorite family movies were musicals. Disney movies were played religiously on Friday’s family night. If not Disney, it was Singing in the Rain, Oklahoma, Carousel (very sad), The Music Man, The King and I, Grease, The Wizard of Oz, The Sound of Music… I feel like I’m forgetting some other important titles, but you get the idea. You can bet that if it had songs in it, we knew virtually every word, and we would sing them over and over and try to come up with our own dances for them, splitting up different singing parts and harmonies as best we could so that everyone would get some “show time”.
When Mom and Dad and Grandma decided to take us to a theater musical I was very much so against it. (I was against many things our family promoted in my childhood; things which I now hold close to my heart with fondness.) The musical they chose was Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, and by the end my sisters and I were obsessed. Our trip to Europe that summer is officially soundtracked by the Joseph musical’s CD – played CONSTANTLY as we drove from Austria to Holland, Holland to Italy, flying here and there. We fell in love with other musicals as well, such as The Phantom of the Opera, Cats, Jesus Christ Superstar, Rent, Les Miserables,and Wicked.
We also found a trend in our travels (we traveled a good bit) that was first noted in that Europe trip. We tended to have a “soundtrack” for each trip we went on. Joseph for Europe, Steven Curtis Chapman’s Dive CD as well as Burlap to Cashmere for our trip out West, and I think Les Mis ultimately became the theme for our London trip. And you must understand that the music we memorized we also shared with every guest that came to our home. Friends can testify that if we were sitting in a room and one of the Wards entered it, many a-time they came in belting – not singing, but belting – a tune to fit the “scene”. Emily and Ashley were probably the most exposed people to my family breaking out into song when it fit a conversation, or turning up the music to dance to it. Emily was even given the honor of a random 3-part harmony that broke out one night with my Mom and my sisters. Mom walked in the room and sang “good night” taken from “The Music Man”, and Stef immediately sang the next part’s harmony, followed by the third part’s harmony from Meagan, and ending with all three of them IN harmony to complete the song. End scene.
A musical seems to have become our family. That’s the only way I can think to say it. At Mike’s and my rehearsal dinner, half my family’s toasts were in reference to or actually sung in the tunes of varying musicals. Not just immediate family, but extended as well. It just goes well with us. 🙂
With all that being said, I’d like to share what inspired this rush of musical memories my family has shared. Below is a youtube video I found on another blog I read. I watched it and laughed in awe, but also found myself tearing up a bit, because that is my family. Thrilled to pieces to jump in and sing along and dance no matter who is watching. Granted, we don’t draw a huge crowd; in fact, if we were more apt to expose our sing-and-dance lives to a room full of strangers, the crowd would probably vanish. But who am I to assume anything? Apparently, more people than I knew have that little tugging in them to live a musical.
So, to Dad, Mom, Stef, Mea… Oma and Opa and Grandma… to the Blackwells and the Koppiers, to Aunt Nancy and to the Lewises who we do not see much but who are immersed in theater, song and dance (with Mary the actress and David the agent, or producer, or both, I can never remember)… and also to Mike, who is my family now and who also has a love for music (though not quite like this so much, as far as I know)…
I hope you all enjoy this clip as much as I did. Mom, I know you love this movie in particular, and I fought it at first but I love it now too.
And to everyone else… I hope it makes you smile, and that perhaps you feel a little tug to live like this – even if you don’t admit it!