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Carolyn Kite

A Song for Life

Although it sounds strange, I believe that movies - in particular musicals - have helped to shape the person I am today. My love for singing and dancing, as well as why I'm such an optimistic person is in part due to my love for musicals. It seems that in musicals things always turn out well in the end, and the characters always come away happier. That is why I feel musicals are such a joy to watch.

My first real memory of watching a musical was when I was about 6-years-old, before we had cable or a VCR. How much I would look forward to the one or two times the networks would run "The Sound of Music" or the "Wizard of Oz". My sister Sally and I would read the TV guide a week in advance and then wait for that special night. How we would beg our parents to allow us to stay up and watch the whole movie - even if it was way past our normal bedtime. Then of course we would have to stay up a little while longer just to sing and dance around the house to all the songs we had just heard.

Even though we were tired the next morning and our mother had to drag us out of bed, we did not regret the fun we had together the night before. These are times my sister and I still laugh about today. These musicals still remind me of what it was like to be young, and how great it was to have the biggest worry in life be whether my parents would allow me to watch them or not. This really began my lifelong obsession with these kinds of movies.

I was so obsessed with these movies at a young age that I would pretend to be the characters I saw on screen. My sister and I used to learn all of the songs and dances from the musicals we saw, and then we would perform them in the living room.

I remember one time, I must have been about 8-years-old and my sister was then 7, we really liked the Shirley Temple movie "Poor Little Rich Girl". In that movie Shirley Temple sings a song with Jack Haley and Alice Faye about spinach. My sister and I could imitate her perfectly. Sally, with her blond curls, would be Shirley Temple, and I would play the other two characters. We would sing and do all the gestures as closely as possible to the real thing.

My mom thought of course that we were the cutest things she ever saw. So whenever we went out she would make us get up and perform our little number for our grandparents, cousins, and anyone else who would sit and listen. Sally and I can still remember and even do that little number today - most of it anyway. So this musical had a major impact on my life.

Not only did it bring my sister and I closer, but it also helped us develop self confidence and the ability to think we could be, in our family's eyes, as cute and wonderful as two little Shirley Temples.

When I got to be a teenager, these movies still influenced the way I lived my life. For example, our friends put on a talent show for all the young people in our group. My sister and I along with two other friends worked very hard on the routine we had chosen. We worked for weeks choosing a song, choreographing it, rehearsing it, and picking out the perfect costumes for the number we were going to perform.

We decided on doing "All I Do the Whole Day Through is Dream of You" from "Singing in the Rain". We watched the scene over and over trying to learn all the steps. This helped me share my love of musicals with others. My two friends I was doing this routine with had actually never seen "Singing in the Rain" before. How happy I was to know that they also found joy in sharing this moment with me. Everyone at the show was impressed and wanted to know how we came up with the idea for our act. So again I had the opportunity to proclaim my love for musicals and let them know exactly what they had been missing.

Lately, I find that when I am depressed, lonely, or just having a bad day I turn again to the comfort of movie musicals. It definitely helps take my mind away from the troubles of the day and escape for a few hours into the world of song, dance, and happy endings. They always help me return to the rose colored world I like to live in.

To me, the best thing to do on a cold, wet, gray day is to go home, get a thick cozy blanket, curl up on the couch with a hot cup of tea and watch some of these favorite childhood movies. I still find myself singing and dancing, most of the time these days when no one is looking, to these favorite songs.

What I would do without these musicals I don't know. Because of them I love to sing and play the piano any chance I get. I know I will always have this love.

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