Saturday, January 2, 2010

Movie Musicals: Yes, Please!

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The first movie I ever went to see in the theater was the musical, “Annie.“ It was in the early 80s, and aside from Disney and Strawberry Shortcake movies, I had never seen a musical brought to life on the screen, and certainly not with live action. When we got to the movie theater, all of the tickets has been sold, so they allowed me to watch the movie from the projector room. I felt like a VIP- being ushered to a secret room and getting to see the mechanics of the movie theater. This experience made seeing the movie all the more special.

Shortly thereafter, my mother introduced me to my (now) favorite movie musical, ”West Side Story.“ As a little brunette child, I was certain that some day I would be just like Natalie Wood and be able to play Latinas with flair- white skin, be darned! I had a little plastic cassette player/recorder, and I held it in front of the TV for two hours so that I could record the music from the movie and then sing along to it in my bedroom. I was quite a tomboy, but I had one skirt with ruffles that I had tucked in the back of my closet. When ”America“ would play on my tape player, I would pull on the skirt and sashay around my room, doing my best Rita Moreno impression. I imagine I was quite a vision (thank goodness YouTube did not exist then!) I’ve told this story to lots of folks, and my good friend, Jim, joked that he would concoct a one-woman version of ”West Side Story“ for me to perform some day. He went so far as to propose some DVD artwork:


”Annie“ and ”West Side Story“ shaped who I was to become as a performer- I have been lucky enough to have a successful career in both movies and musicals. I haven’t yet found a way to bring them together, but tonight I was very inspired when watching a current (albeit non-traditional) movie musical: ”Once.“

What a film! 2 musicians, a great director/writer, a handful of crew members, and a micro-budget - and they were able to tell a story, with music, that MEANS something. I started to think- there has got to be a way for me to be able to do a project like this.

One notable problem is that I don’t write music. As a kid, I was an excellent poet and could write lyrics, but I have no talent creating music from thin air. But perhaps if I could find someone who shares the same passion as I, we could create a project that we can be proud of. It’s not like I need ANOTHER commitment in my life (those of you who know me are probably shaking your heads, thinking, ”Here she goes again...“) But I haven’t been creatively inspired in quite a long time, and thinking about what something like this might look gives me creative energy. I don’t have any immediate plans to act on these ideas, but I like the fact that the beginning of a project is developing.

Anyway, it’s the new year, and I’ve committed to blogging through 1 of my 3 blogs each day (for a total of 7, or more, blogs per week.) So, I’d better get used to sharing these kinds of thoughts as they come up. For at year’s end, I’ll be able to find 365 days of thoughts roaming the inter-web, and that sounds just dandy to me.

PS: I caught ”Annie“ on TV a few months back, and it all of the sudden hit me: I live in New York City, the city in which ”Annie“ was based! And ”West Side Story.“ And ”Rent“. And about a dozen other musicals that live with me daily. And I feel so, so lucky...

Erin Cronican's career as a professional actor and career coach has spanned the last 25 years in New York City, Los Angeles and San Diego. She has appeared in major feature films and on television, and has toured nationally with plays and musicals. She has worked in the advertising & marketing departments of major corporations, film production companies, theater magazines, and non-profit acting organizations. For more information, please visit


  1. I am movie musical junkie, well actually ALL MUSICAL junkie, too Erin! One of my faves is Jesus Christ Superstar. I can't believe the people of the early 70's didn't get the beauty & irony of it. :-) Call me when you produce yours, I'll fly out from Cali. And thanks for the tip on "Once", I'll go check it out. Happy 2010

  2. I love JCS! Both the musical and the movie. The music is incredible.

    I am coming to visit San Diego- if you're around, maybe I can see you!


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