This past Labor Day weekend, the American Film Institute announced its picks of the "Top 25 Movie Musicals". Working from a list of 180 nominees, over 500 industry professionals (including composers, musicians and film critics) cast their votes, and John Mauceri and the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra presented the winners, during an evening of musical celebration. Mauceri began the concert with an updated version of Marc Shaiman's amazing arrangement of classic movie musical themes from That's Entertainment III, set to a stunning film montage edited by Laura Gibson.
As no one knew what the Top 25 would be, Mauceri would tease the audience with a little trivia about each film before performing a musical excerpt from the films. Through the help of the various studios, many of the films (especially the more recent ones) were able to be presented without a music track, allowing the orchestra to play live. In other cases (for many of the older films) the separated elements were unavailable, and the orchestra would supplement (or even play over) the existing music track.
As with any "Top 25" list, no one could be completely happy. People always have their favorites, and invariably some won't be on the list - or even one of the 180 nominees. With that in mind, here is the AFI's Top 25 Movie Musicals, listed in descending order, with the musical number that the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra performed at the concert:
25. Moulin Rouge (2001) - "Elephant Love Medley"
24. Show Boat (1936) - "Old Man River"
23. Guys and Dolls (1955) - "The Oldest Established"
22. Beauty and the Beast (1991) - "Beauty and the Beast"
21. Seven Brides for Seven Brothers (1954) - "Barn Dance"
20. Grease (1978) - "You're the One that I Want"
19. On the Town (1949) - "New York, New York"
18. Yankee Doodle Dandy (1942) - "Yankee Doodle Dandy"
17. The Band Wagon (1953) - "Dancing in the Dark"
16. Funny Girl (1968) - "Don't Rain on My Parade"
15. Top Hat (1935) - "Cheek to Cheek"
14. All That Jazz (1979) - "On Broadway"
13. 42nd Street (1933) - "Young and Healthy"
12. Chicago (2002) - "Nowadays / Hot Honey Rag"
11. The King and I (1956) - "Getting to Know You"
10. Meet Me in St. Louis (1944) - "The Trolley Song"
9. An American in Paris (1951) - "Medley"
8. My Fair Lady (1964) - "I Could Have Danced All Night"
7. A Star is Born (1954) - "Melancholy Baby"
6. Mary Poppins (1964) - "Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious"
5. Cabaret (1972) - "Cabaret"
4. The Sound of Music (1965) - "Opening / The Sound of Music"
3. The Wizard of Oz (1939) - "Over the Rainbow"
2. West Side Story (1961) - "Medley"
1. Singin' in the Rain (1952) - "Singin' in the Rain"
The concert ended with a standing ovation for Mauceri, who is in his final season at the Hollywood Bowl, and then he returned with an encore - another excellent montage, set to Shaiman's concluding arrangement of That's Entertainment. For the final encore, he returned once more to the stage for the finale of AFI's Top Comedy of All Time, Some Like it Hot. It was a pleasant way to end the evening, even though it felt a little tacked on.
On Tuesday, September 12, conductor Leonard Slatkin will lead the Los Angeles Philharmonic in "Classic American Scores" at the Hollywood Bowl, featuring works from Aaron Copland, John Corigliano and Leonard Bernstein. John Mauceri's last concert at the Hollywood Bowl will be celebrated with a Fireworks Finale on September 15, 16 and 17, and will feature original commissioned pieces by Danny Elfman, Richard Rodney Bennett, and others - and there will be some surprise guests as well! Finally, "Video Games Live: 2006" will take place on September 21, 2006. For more details and tickets, visit the Hollywood Bowl website.