Musicals for toddlers
October 26, 2020 1:34 PM   Subscribe

My almost three year old saw Singing In The Rain for the first time and loved it. I’m not super familiar with movie musicals other than SITR. Can you recommend musicals for us? Ideally with a lot of big exciting musical numbers.
posted by supercrayon to Media & Arts (34 answers total) 25 users marked this as a favorite
I always loved Fiddler on the Roof, though it might be a bit old in thematic terms. Still… To Life!:)
posted by Alensin at 1:38 PM on October 26, 2020 [1 favorite]

My son loved Pirates of Penzance when he was around 4. Very silly, lots of big musical numbers, and pirates!
posted by Winnie the Proust at 1:44 PM on October 26, 2020 [3 favorites]

The original Mary Poppins might fit the bill... or Sound of Music (a friend once told me that it you stop at the wedding, no Nazis!).
posted by nkknkk at 1:44 PM on October 26, 2020 [8 favorites]

The Sound of Music! Kids running around and singing and having fun!
posted by corey flood at 1:45 PM on October 26, 2020 [3 favorites]

I was very into both The Music Man and (as mentioned) Mary Poppins from a toddler age on.
posted by PaulaSchultz at 1:53 PM on October 26, 2020 [2 favorites]

Hello Dolly is great for the “big musical number” type of show. You’re kiddo might also enjoy “An American In Paris” which has knockout numbers as well
posted by raccoon409 at 1:54 PM on October 26, 2020 [4 favorites]

In the same vein as Mary Poppins, Bedknobs and Broomsticks and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang are both excellent.
posted by darchildre at 1:56 PM on October 26, 2020 [5 favorites]

The Court Jester!
posted by The otter lady at 1:56 PM on October 26, 2020 [6 favorites]

The Wizard of Oz
posted by a humble nudibranch at 1:57 PM on October 26, 2020 [5 favorites]

Oh, and Joseph And The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. I never saw the production as a kid, but I drove my parents nuts playing the record over and over and over.... Despite the Biblical origin, it's really not heavily religious at all, if that's a concern.
posted by The otter lady at 2:00 PM on October 26, 2020 [3 favorites]

For similar Singin' in the Rain energy I would go straight to On the Town and It's Always Fair Weather, which are both also Stanley Donen/Gene Kelly productions. They're not Singin' in the Rain, but then nothing else is either.

(I know people also like An American in Paris but it's directed by Vincente Minnelli rather than Donen and, handsome as it is, it puts me to sleep.)
posted by Mothlight at 2:15 PM on October 26, 2020

This page from Common Sense Media, "Musicals for Kids," has reviews and age recommendations for a whole bunch of musicals. You can take a look and see if any of the content warnings are things that would bother you or your kid. I find their reviews to be progressive and sensible.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 2:16 PM on October 26, 2020 [1 favorite]

Easter Parade! I LOVED this movie as a kid. It's got Fred Astaire, Judy Garland, Ann Miller, and TONS of amazing musical numbers both big and small. There's a memorable one set in a toy store that your kiddo might like.

Also with Judy Garland: The Wizard of Oz (obvs) and The Pirate, which is a weird but wonderful 1948 film with her and Gene Kelly. It's set in the Caribbean and shot in vivid technicolor, and your kid would probably like it on the visual appeal alone.

They're in black and white, but any of the Fred Astaire/Ginger Rogers movies are great. Swing Time and Top Hat are my favorites.

Shirley Temple made some pretty adorable musicals in the 1930s. They don't tend to have big flashy musical numbers, but there are plenty of songs/dances and it might be fun for your kid to see another kid doing their thing on screen!

In similar vein, Judy Garland and Mickey Rooney made 6 or 8 musicals together when they were teenagers.

I adore the Sound of Music, and it's fairly kid-friendly as long as you turn it off before the Nazis show up. That said, the rest of the Rodgers and Hammerstein musicals (Oklahoma, South Pacific, etc.) might be a bit too serious for a little one? They're more drama than comedy/showy musical numbers.

If you're looking for films with huge production numbers, I'd check out anything directed by Busby Berkeley or anything with "Broadway" or "Follies" in the title. There were tons of movies in the 1930s set in the theater and featuring lavish musical numbers. They'll mostly be in black and white, though.

I had a friend who was obsessed with Seven Brides for Seven Brothers growing up, but I've never seen it myself.
posted by leftover_scrabble_rack at 2:16 PM on October 26, 2020 [6 favorites]

*pulls up chair*
Everything mentioned above
Most Shirley Temple movies, I recommend starting with Bright Eyes and then The Little Colonel and then Captain January and then ...
Any and all Gilbert and Sullivan (PBS did a series back in the 80s which is still around)
The Music Man (both original and Matthew Broderick versions are good)
Annie Get Your Gun
Godspell if you don't mind the religious part (it's a lot of singing and dancing, and good music)
Guys and Dolls (original with Marlon Brando; there was an excellent Black version with Robert Guillaume but I don't know if it was filmed)
Peter Pan
Check out the Black version of Hello Dolly with Pearl Baily and Cab Calloway
They're Playing our Song
Damn Yankees
For Me and My Gal
Oh, just google "Judy Garland MGM"
Easter Parade; oh, just google Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers
"That's Entertainment" I, II and III, and "That's Dancing", you will NOT regret it
*has to leave for appointment*
posted by Melismata at 2:18 PM on October 26, 2020 [7 favorites]

"That's Entertainment" is actually great for "just the dancing bits," of music.
posted by emjaybee at 2:23 PM on October 26, 2020 [7 favorites]

The Greatest Showman was a huge hit for my tween. The kids in her school were obsessed with the songs and dance so for a couple years, their musical numbers and dance routines were included in all their school performances
posted by IndigoOnTheGo at 2:32 PM on October 26, 2020 [1 favorite]

Stick to high-energy musicals. A movie like "An American in Paris" is going to be more than your 3-year-old will sit through.

I would second "On The Town", "Sound of Music", "Seven Brides For Seven Brothers",

Live-action Peter Pan (the Mary Martin 1960 TV version is on YouTube), maybe The Muppets' "Hey Cinderella!" (also on YouTube)
posted by briank at 2:43 PM on October 26, 2020 [1 favorite]

"Kiss Me Kate" has fun musical numbers (but I actually don't love the movie, just the dancing).
"Top Hat" and "Swing Time" are both so good.
"Stormy Weather" features the amazing Nicholas Brothers (Fred Astaire's heroes).

But yeah, nothing else is "Singin' in the Rain."
posted by fedward at 3:17 PM on October 26, 2020 [1 favorite]

"Meet Me in St Louis" because lots of musical numbers, and there's a great kid performance from Margaret O'Brien (when I was a kid I liked watching other kids); one caveat is that maybe the Halloween sequence is a little spooky for a very tiny one, but throwing it out there.
posted by OolooKitty at 3:20 PM on October 26, 2020 [1 favorite]

FWIW I would avoid the John Huston version of Annie, which i would say is mean spirited and racist. Also, The Wizard of Is is potentially terrifying for a three year old, methinks. Believe it or not, when my son was that age he LOVED the “Blues Clues Musical,” a more or less feature length movie about putting on a back yard musical. The songs are really good, kindness abounds, and none other than Ray Charles plays the character of “G-Clef.”
posted by baseballpajamas at 4:20 PM on October 26, 2020 [1 favorite]

I think literally all of these are good suggestions, but also probably Anchors Aweigh with Gene Kelly and Frank Sinatra. This is the one where Gene dances with Jerry the Mouse, definitely fun for a kid.

One thing about many of these movies is that there are a lot of racist parts? I love old musicals but I definitely have some I probably wouldn’t want to show to a toddler because you can’t be exactly have a conversation about the historical context and why it’s bad with a kid that young. Swing Time is incredible but also has a long blackface sequence. At least one of the Mickey Rooney / Judy Garland ones also does, I can’t remember which one. You could probably skip these sequences but something to be aware of! I think you mostly stop running into straight up blackface sometime in the early 40s if you want to avoid that whole minefield.
posted by SoftRain at 4:21 PM on October 26, 2020 [2 favorites]

Lemme tell you about how I was going to recommend "Holiday Inn," but between the blackface (which was always cut when it was broadcast on TV and is a really problematic part of the DVD) and the "Say it with Firecrackers" number modeling all sorts of behaviors you don't want to impress on a kid, I deleted it.
posted by fedward at 4:29 PM on October 26, 2020 [2 favorites]

White Christmas!
posted by computech_apolloniajames at 5:05 PM on October 26, 2020 [5 favorites]

So many good options above. I just want to second the Wizard of Oz! I could go on at length about how much this movie meant to me as a child. It's basically the Ur-musical in my house.

A few I didn't see above :

The King and I, although yeah the politics have aged unevenly. Ditto the ending of My Fair Lady -- even as a child I was really annoyed with the last scene. Maybe stop when they get to the Embassy Ball?

Royal Wedding has Fred Astaire dancing on the ceiling. Be careful cause your kid might try it too.

The Great Race isn't really a musical (there is one song, complete with a singalong bouncing ball) but it has a similar style to the 1950s Technicolor musicals, and well worth a watch for Jack Lemmon's Professor Fate alone. "PUSH THE BUTTON, MAX!.... (explosion) MAAAAAAAAX!"
posted by basalganglia at 5:54 PM on October 26, 2020 [2 favorites]

My daughter was obsessed with Annie for quite a long time. We got her tickets for her third birthday, and she listened to the soundtrack every day for a good three or four months afterward. We still listen to it pretty regularly. It’s not terrible to listen to as an adult, either. More politics than you probably remember.
posted by kevinbelt at 6:04 PM on October 26, 2020

Your kid is my kid four years ago, and now she is thriving in her virtual musical theater afterschool club, so just know that you’re growing a Broadway Baby by doing this.

I’ll throw Hairspray into the mix (we like the John Travolta remake)—this has also been an excellent jumping off point for talking about race and protesting.

She also has loved the Hamilton soundtrack since she was two and was as excited as her dad and me to see the filmed stage version this summer. Only in the last few months have we had to start to worry about her asking about some of the more salacious lyrics.

YouYube is great for individual production numbers—search for Tony Awards or the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. Look for “Forget About the Boy” from Thoroughly Modern Millie or “Anything Goes” from Anything Goes or “Transylvania Mania” from Young Frankenstein for starters. Neil Patrick Harris has done a couple of opening numbers for the Tonys that are just stunning. We also like the Lin-Manuel Miranda/Emily Blunt/James Corden bit where they do bits from as many musicals as they can in twelve minutes. Finally, there’s a compilation of dance sequences from musicals set to Uptown Funk that my kiddo was obsessed with at that age.
posted by timestep at 10:36 PM on October 26, 2020 [3 favorites]

Big exciting musical numbers? There are many others out there, but the classic director for this is Busby Berkley

Some of these don't have much of a story, if you just want the dancing parts check youtube.
posted by yohko at 11:58 PM on October 26, 2020 [1 favorite]

This is what classic episodes of The Muppet Show are made for.
posted by Hypatia at 5:21 AM on October 27, 2020 [9 favorites]

Just because, but Paddington doing Singing in the Rain.
posted by idb at 8:16 AM on October 27, 2020

Cover Girl is a charming 1944 musical starring Gene Kelly and Rita Hayworth. Hayworth leaves her homey music club when she wins a cover girl contest, but, of course, returns to her sweetheart Kelly in the end. Great musical numbers.
posted by missmary6 at 10:34 AM on October 27, 2020 [1 favorite]

Once Upon A Mattress. Fairly broad comedy, at least when Carol Burnett did it.

Parts of Annie would be excellent, but I found pretty long.
posted by SemiSalt at 1:16 PM on October 27, 2020

In the same vein as Mary Poppins, Bedknobs and Broomsticks and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang are both excellent.

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang has children being kidnapped and held in cages. You’re recommending this for an almost three year old?
posted by pmurray63 at 6:05 PM on October 27, 2020 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thanks for the suggestions all, and for the heads up about the movies with racist bits.
posted by supercrayon at 4:56 PM on October 30, 2020

Bandwagon. Nifty numbers plus a plot that adults can also appreciate.
posted by storybored at 7:31 PM on October 31, 2020

« Older Looking for short(ish) term housing in the Twin...   |   Pelvic Floor Physical Therapy, Trauma Edition? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.