I have been a fan of musicals since my days at Columbus North High School. Under the tutelage of T. Joe Tower, John Johnson and Herb Perry, I was fortunate to be a part of several great musical productions: “Hello Dolly,” “Anything Goes” and “Leader of the Pack.”
What I found so great about musical theater is that it amps up the emotion already inherent in the dialogue. The swells in the music make dramatic moments more palatable. Funny, light-hearted moments are enhanced by witty lines and musical instrument choice. I know there are people that would disagree with me, but I believe the music helps bring the audience along on the dramatic journey.
If you are a fan, too, the library has a great resource for you. From our website, mybcpl.org, you can access Hoopla, which allows you to choose from lots of great music CDs, movies, audiobooks and TV shows. Think of this service as an expanded version of Netflix.
In Hoopla, you can view the 1954 Frank Sinatra/Ethel Merman movie version of “Anything Goes.” However, as this musical has also been revived many times throughout the years, there are also the 1989 and 2003 London Cast recordings, as well as the 1956 movie soundtrack version featuring Bing Crosby. It is a funny musical with funny dialogue with mistaken identities, romance and lots more.
If you didn’t know it, Cole Porter wrote the music and lyrics for “Anything Goes.” Porter is a Hoosier native from Peru, and it seems appropriate to celebrate him during this Indiana Bicentennial year. On Hoopla, we have more than 50 albums recognizing his contributions to the American music industry. Bing Crosby, Ella Fitzgerald, Tony Bennett, Rosemary Clooney, Charlie Parker and many more have albums featuring the great songs written by Porter throughout the years.
Of course, there are other great musical offerings on Hoopla as well: “Annie,” “Phantom of the Opera,” “Les Misérables,” “The Music Man,” “Peter Pan,” “Gypsy” and many others. With Hoopla, the movie is available to stream or download to a mobile device for 72 hours after checking it out. After 72 hours, the movie automatically “returns” so there are never any late fees.
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the newest musical that is garnering so much attention: “Hamilton: An American Musical.” Winner of 11 Tony awards, a Grammy for best musical theater album, and the Pulitzer Prize for drama, Hamilton takes Ron Chernow’s biography of Alexander Hamilton and adapts it to the stage with hip hop and rap throughout. Be forewarned: there is some explicit language.
Available on Hoopla, Hamilton epitomizes the musical form as it enhances and amplifies the story of this United States Founding Father — taking what some would see as boring history and turning it into something exciting and worthy of our attention.
Jason Hatton is director at the Bartholomew County Public Library. He can be reached at email@example.com.