My Favorite Western Musicals

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Ever since my teenage days, I’ve been a sucker for a good musical. I love Judy Garland, Gene Kelly, Howard Keel . . . this list goes on and on. There’s just something so delightfully cheesy and romantic about a man breaking into song to tell his woman how much he loves her. My husband sang in our university choir in college and has a base voice I love to listen to when we sit together in church. If I were dreaming up my ideal hero, he’d be rugged and handsome, principled and honorable, and he’d sing like Josh Groban. Sigh.

So, since I love musicals and adore western settings, I thought I’d share some of my all-time favorite western musicals.

Seven Brides for Seven Brothers

This one tops the list. Rugged fronteir setting. Men in desperate need of a good woman’s influence. And seasoned ranch hands that can sing and dance while they do their chores. Awesome! This musical sparked the idea for the Archer brothers in Short Straw Bride.

sevenbridesforsevenbros2

Harvey Girls

OK, ignore the giant bow on her head that looks like it came from the Minnie Mouse Collection. Judy Garland is her usual spunky self in this story about a mail-order bride who is left on her own after her husband-to-be chickens out. She joins the group of Harvey Girls she met on the train and works to open one of Fred Harvey’s hotels and restaurants much to the frustration of the local saloon owner, who, of course, is our romantic lead. Oh, and did you catch the star of Murder, She Wrote in the cast? Yep, that’s Angela Lansbury as the statuesque dance hall girl on the right.

Harvey Girls

Oklahoma!

How many of you are already singing the title song in your head? Me, too. Such a fabulous soundtrack to this down-home western musical. I own the soundtrack and sing along to it more often than I should probably admit. Some of my favorite tunes are Oh, What a Beautiful Morning, The Surrey with the Fringe on Top, Kansas City, All Er Nuthin, and of course the rousing square dance number The Farmer and the Cowman.

Oklahoma

Annie Get Your Gun

I watched this musical about the legendary Annie Oakley for the first time last summer with my daughter. This one is about as corny as they come, but my daughter fell in love with the hysterical lyrics and overdone faces. She does a great Betty Hutton imitation now. How can you not laugh with songs likeAnnie Get Your Gun Doin’ What Comes Natur’lly?

Folks are dumb where I come from,
They ain’t had any learning.
Still they’re happy as can be
Doin’ what comes naturally (doin’ what comes naturally).
Folks like us could never fuss
With schools and books and learning.
Still we’ve gone from A to Z,
Doin’ what comes naturally (doin’ what comes naturally)
You don’t have to know how to read or write
When you’re out with a feller in the pale moonlight.
You don’t have to look in a book to find out
What he thinks of the moon and what is on his mind.
That comes naturally (that comes naturally).

 

What are some of your favorites?

Do you roll your eyes at musicals or do you sing along?

 

Karen Witemeyer

For those who love to smile as they read, bestselling author Karen Witemeyer offers warmhearted historical romance with a flair for humor, feisty heroines, and swoon-worthy Texas heroes. Karen is a firm believer in the power of happy endings. . . and ice cream. She is an avid cross-stitcher, and makes her home in Abilene, TX with her husband and three children. Learn more about Karen and her books at: www.karenwitemeyer.com.


62 Comments

  1. Love them! My 11 year old daughter’s favorite is Seven Brides for Seven Brothers. She saw the picture on here and squealed. LOL
    Great post!

  2. Hi, Susan. I’m so excited that some of our younger generation are being introduced to these classics. I twisted my daughter’s arm into watching several with me over the summer and now she actually listens to the Broadway station on Pandora. Victory! LOL. Give your daughter a big high 5 for me. Anyone who loves Seven Brides is a gal after my own heart.

  3. Love these–all of them. But my “goose bumps” song is “They Call the Wind Mariah” from Paint Your Wagon.

    Great blog, Karen!

  4. OOOOoooo. Great song, Elizabeth! I like that one.

  5. Love all of these musicals with a western theme.. And I loved Paint Your Wagon.. And another one I love with Doris Day and Howard Keel was Calamity Jane, she sings Secret Love, my heart just melts..

  6. No contest, best western musical ever PAINT YOUR WAGON. So funny. Clint Eastwood To Die For handsome. Lee Marvin is so hilarious. I had to look up the heroine but Jean Seberg wanting to know why a man could have two wives (some Morman’s went through and she was one of two wives I think) but a woman couldn’t have two husbands. So she married two men. All very scandalous back then I’m sure. The music doesn’t make any one of them one speck less of a tough guy. It’s the only musical My Cowboy husband will put up with.

  7. I haven’t seen some of these movies for years, Karen. I still spell Oklahoma (when called upon to do so) by singing it. LOL

  8. Great additions, Kathleen. I’ve heard of both of those but must confess I haven’t seen them yet. I may have to look them up on Netflix.

  9. Hey, Mary. Two husbands? I have enough trouble keeping up with one. Ha! But if it is entertaining enough for Your Cowboy to watch, I’m going to have to give it a try.

    And I’m with you on the spelling lesson. I do the same with the “do re mi” from Sound of Music.

  10. You left off my favorite PAINT YOUR WAGON It was wonderful when it first came out-it had Clint Eastwood in it, beautiful scenery and lots of humor. The songs were great and even Clint sang one of them.

  11. Seven Brides for Seven Brothers has always been the family favorite. My brothers and I and the pastor’s kids would act out the kidnapping scene over and over when we were little, since the boys were just big enough to cart us girls off after throwing blankets over our heads. And of course we had to try to do all the fancy things the brothers do at the barn raising; we’re probably lucky we’re not dead.

    Calamity Jane definitely ranks up there too, and also stars Howard Keel!

  12. I liked musicals of any kind and enjoyed seeing all of those you listed.

  13. Hi, Jackie. You seem to be in the majority about Pain Your Wagon. I couldn’t list it because I’ve never actually seen it. I can tell I’m going to need to remedy that error as soon as possible!

  14. Rachael – I want to come live with your family! 🙂 I LOVE that your brothers even go in on the action. How fabulous! I can just picture you and the girls squealing and kicking as those blankets were tossed over your heads. And I hope you never actually used real hammers when you reenacted the barn raising scene. 🙂

  15. Hi, Joye. I adore musicals. I work at a university and every year they put on a musical for Homecoming. My daughter and I try to go as often as we can. This year they are putting on Les Miserables. We’ll be going for sure!

  16. Karen, I love musicals too! I miss really good ones not being made anymore, that’s why I still watch the old ones! I enjoy the ones you mentioned and then of course, The Music Man and others come to mind. Those were staples growing up in our household – Man of La Mancha too! I got to see “CATS” when it came to Los Angeles as a teenager and loved it! Thanks for the trip down memory lane!

  17. I was so tickled to see Seven Brides for Seven Brothers on your list. It’s one my favorites! When I’m all by myself I tend to sing the musical tunes from that film in particular. Too bad not too many people appreciate these great classics anymore.
    Another good one is Calamity Jane with Dorris Day!

  18. I loved, loved, loved Oklahoma! Yes, I sing along!

    Blessings!
    Judy B

  19. MUSICALS! Loooooove them! 🙂 I think I shall sing the rest of the day!
    I enjoy Showboat (Howard Keel) as well as Seven Brides & Oklahoma. I was, however, pretty disturbed by the “dark side” of Oklahoma. Wish I could get a version without all the yucky Jud (except for the fight @ the end, of course). I love Curly’s character.
    Speaking of- Have you seen/heard Hugh Jackman’s ‘Oh What A Beautiful Mornin’ ? It certainly is! 😉

    I will confess, though, that I prefer the “classics” – Phantom of the Opera and Beauty and the Beast are both amazing. I also love Les Mis…..the 10th anniversary recording is soooo amazing- although the movie is great, as well.

    If you want to watch an interesting movie/musical about a man who wrote musicals, (Jerome Kern) – I highly recommend ‘Til the Clouds Roll By’ – it’s a great movie!

  20. Hi, Valri. I agree about musical just not being the same as they used to be. Although, there have been some pretty good remakes in film version. I LOVED the 2005 Phantom of the Opera with Gerard Butler. Les Miserables with Hugh Jackman was wonderful, too. Even Mama Mia with Meryl Streep was a fun one.

  21. I love Calamity Jane, it is my all time favourite. My mom got me hooked on it.

  22. Judy B – My favorite scene in the movie TWISTER is when the guys in one of the trucks start singing “Oklahoma, where the wind comes sweeping down the plain” at the top of their lungs. It’s just too catchy to resist!

  23. Thanks for the recommendation, Joy. I’ll certainly be looking up ‘Til the Clouds Roll By. And how have I missed Hugh Jackman singing O What a Beautiful Mornin’? I’ve gotta look that one up right away! 😉

  24. Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, definitely. I’ve been itching to watch it again, so now I think I’ll have to! I’m not savvy when it comes to musicals, so honestly, that’s the only one that comes to mind for me! But it’s a good one. And now I’m about ready to swoon thinking about the Archer Brothers. Time to read another cowboy book! 🙂

  25. Hi, Christina. Hooray for your mom!!! That’s my kind of woman. 🙂

  26. Lisa – That’s what we love to hear. It’s always time to read another cowboy book. LOL. 🙂

  27. I have to say that Seven Brides for Seven Brothers and Oklahoma are in a tie for my favorites. They are both fabulous movies and a great way to escape for a couple of hours.

  28. OHHHHH La Homa, where the winds come sweepting down the plain!! Love musicals!!

  29. Seven Bride for Seven Brothers is the top of my list. I’ve loved that movie since I was little, now my daughter enjoys it.

    I also enjoy Oklahoma. The stage production with Hugh Jackman is a lot of fun. It was filmed at the Royal Opera House I believe.

  30. I agree, Deborah. I think I like the music better in Oklahoma and the story better in Seven Brides, but they are both fabulous!

  31. CateS – …and the wavin’ wheat can sure smell sweet when the wind comes right behind the raaaaaaain – I’m singin’ with you. 🙂

  32. Katie – I would have given anything to see Hugh Jackman on stage as Curly. I’m drooling a bit just imagining it. 🙂

  33. My sister is the bigger musical fan… she loves the older movies more than I do, but a fav of mine is Calamity Jane!

  34. The Music Man

  35. Oh Karen, this is a great blog! I am a musical lover and Seven Brides for Seven Brothers and Oklahoma are two of my very favorites! As a young girl, I dreamed of being swept away by a wonderfully, handsome cowboy when I first saw Seven Brides and the music in these and so many more….unbeatable! Thank you so much for stirring wonderful memories, bringing a smile to my face, and a song to my heart. Now I am singing…”Oh what a beautiful morning…”. Sure hope you have one. Thank you!

  36. Great pick, Colleen!

    Anon1001 – I loved the film adaptation of the Music man with Matthew Broderick. So fun.

    Melanie – I’m definitely having a beautiful morning. Musicals always put a smile on my face. I guess that’s why I love them so much. It’s impossible to be blue when your toe is tappin’. 🙂

  37. I love Seven Brides for Seven Brothers! Harvey Girls looks great- I’ll have to watch that one.

  38. Hi, Heidi.

    I think you’ll like the Harvey Girls. Judy Garland is spunky and fun.

  39. LOVE musicals! So do my 8 and 5 year old daughters, we sing and dance around the living room together. 🙂 Our favorites are Annie Get Your Gun and Calamity Jane with Doris Day.

  40. I love your post! I am a hugs fan of classic movies and so is my 15 yr old son. We love Harvey Girls, Calamity Jane, seven Brides for Seven Brothers, Meet Me In St Louis and solo many more. Annie get your gun is great too. We love a lot that are not westerns too. They don’t make movies like they used to. TCM is our favorite channel. My sons fab movie is Swing Time with Fred & Ginger. Mine is the good ole summertime with Judy Garland or It happened on Fifth Ave. such great movies & musicals!

  41. I, too, love the musical. Seven Brides for Seven Brothers is right up there with my favs — also liked Doris Day in a version of Calamity Jane — forget the name of the movie, however. And I liked Oklahoma, also.

  42. I ADORE musicals! I grew up on the classics of Showboat, Sound of Music, etc. Yes I’m only 35. Hehe.

    My favorites (some western, some not)
    Seven Brides for Seven Brothers
    Oklahoma
    Harvey Girls
    Showboat (not western)
    Newsies (not a western, or even an old one, but a more recent if 1992 is recent)
    Sound of Music (again, not western)
    Meet Me in St. Louis
    In the Good Ole Summertime (it’s been ages since I’ve seen this)
    Slipper and the Rose (if I can only find it on dvd…)
    One and Only Genuine Original Family Band (old Disney one)

  43. Hi Karen, oh, I love musicals! For many years (until it folded, boo) I was a season-ticket holder at the local civic light opera. Sigh. We saw so many awesome productions. Including Seven Brides, Oklahoma, Evita, South Pacific, Show Boat…all the classics.

    I gotta say Sound of Music is probably my favorite. Each September they show the movie on massive jumbro-trons at the Hollywood Bowl…with subtitles on the bottom so everybody sings along. Great fun.

    Loved the post!

  44. Hi, Dawn. I LOVED In the Good Ole Summertime. Those horrid harps and the love letters that inspired the Meg Ryan Tom Hanks hit, You’ve got Mail. Classic! And the Sound of Music is another soundtrack I sing embarrassingly often.

    Have you ever seen Summer Stock with Judy Garland and Gene Kelly? That’s one of my favorites.

  45. Tanya – A sing-a-long with hundred of your closest friends sounds like a blast. It’s hard to beat those von Trapps. 🙂

  46. I sing along!!! And quote lines! My children now in their 30s and 40s also sing along! We love them Of course I made them watch with me but I saw them in the theater, bigger than life!
    Another that I loved was The Unsinkable Molly Brown. Or anything else with Debbie Reynolds.!
    I think I have seen all of the movies everyone has listed many, many times!

  47. Can’t help but sing along! LOVE, LOVE, LOVE musicals, these 4 included. However, I wasn’t such a huge “Oklahoma” fan until I saw the London revival with Hugh Jackman as Curly (saw it on PBS first, then bought the DVD & soundtrack). Absolutely swoon-inducing! Plus, the chemistry & interaction between Curly & Laurie is so much better in the newer version.

    I recently introduced my 3-year-old to my all-time favorite musical, “Singin’ in the Rain,” and he loved it! He sings the title song in the shower now & every time it rains, which makes me rather proud.

  48. I love musicals. SEVEN BRIDES FOR SEVEN BROTHERS is a favorite. My daughter fell in love with it in high school, and named her son Gideon (she had such a crush on the youngest son.). PAINT YOUR WAGON is also fun. If you go way back, there is ROSE MARIE, a Canadian Western, with Jeanette MacDonald and Nelson Eddy (they had so many good musicals). OKLAHOMA’s music is fun to sing, but the movie has always given me an odd feeling, probably because of Jud. I had never heard of THE HARVEY GIRLS. I’ll have to look that one up. One more, THE UNSINKABLE MOLLY BROWN . Only partially a western, but her home was in Denver.

    Thanks for reminding me of all the great musicals out there. So many of the old ones aren’t available on DVD. I have the sound track for one I discovered in college (in the mid-60’s), DESERT SONG, and have not yet seen the movie. I could never find it inVHS and it isn’t available in DVD form.

  49. “Hi, Dawn. I LOVED In the Good Ole Summertime. Those horrid harps and the love letters that inspired the Meg Ryan Tom Hanks hit, You’ve got Mail. Classic! And the Sound of Music is another soundtrack I sing embarrassingly often.

    Have you ever seen Summer Stock with Judy Garland and Gene Kelly? That’s one of my favorites.”

    Karen,
    I remember watching Summer Stock over and over growing up. I’m pretty sure I’ve seem just about every (if not all) Judy Garland and Gene Kelly movie. I was always able to recognize the signature Gene Kelly moves (tabletop dancing) in musicals he either was in or helped with the choreography. Did you know he was a special consultant on the Disney film Newsies?

  50. My father was a high school music teacher & directed the school musicals, so I grew up on them! I could probably do a pretty good job of singing along with all of the words in Oklahoma!

  51. Love old musical and have many of the songs downloaded onto my I-pod. So I can listen to them anything Seven Brides is one of my all time favorites. I’ve seen the movie many times and even saw the stage version a few years back. Though it was in a outdoor theater and the night I went it pored down rain but they never called it.

  52. I love just about any kind of music (except rap & hard rock)- would be devastated if I had to do without books or music! It has always been a part of my life – from piano, organ, & accordion lessons as a child, to singing in the choir & trios at church, to becoming a cast member of a Passion Play (drama & musical) on the life of Christ – for a year. I used to play a lot of the songs from the musicals when I was taking piano lessons.

    Some of my favorite musicals are: The Sound of Music, Les Miserables, South Pacific, Oklahoma, & Singing In the Rain.

    Thanks for bringing back pleasant memories of the “good old days”!

  53. I LOVE musicals! Well, as a singer, it’s hard not to love the classics.My Mom actually tells us to watch Seven Brides for Seven Brothers on off days because my brother and I go around singing it for quite some time..hehe..My sister passed on her love of Singin’ In the Rain to me and then I discovered Brigadoon..I found it and Naughty Marietta at a yard-sale..The Unsinkable Molly Brown & Carousel at a rummage sale..The classics..My grandma sang during the era of the musicals such as West Side Story and the Sound of Music and she sang for weddings and such. I am following in her footsteps. Unfortunately, I never got to meet her because she passed a year before I was born… I like Les Miserables(I was introduced to it at an early age)Evita, Gigi, MY Fair Lady, Doctor Dolittle, The Slipper & the Rose, & O-K-L-A-H-O-M-A! ..+++..I recently watched Newsies on TV and now I understood why it is still one of my sister’s favorites..I am looking for some good recommendations..Any suggestions?

  54. Western musicals- I’ve only seen Annie Get Your Gun

    Favorite Musicals- Phantom of the Opera, West Side Story, Camelot, Rent, Mama Mia, and Grease

  55. When my kids were in school I would pray for snow days because we would all sit on the couch, snuggled under blankets, watching musicals. My daughter and I love Seven Brides for Seven Brothers!!! Just watched it with her again recently. My boys even enjoyed the musicals too!

  56. Such wonderful comments from everyone. I can’t tell you how hapy it makes me to know that there are so many musical lovers out there. I keep think we might have a musical revival coming. With the Disney channel putting shows together like High School Musical (I think there were three of those) and the Teen Beach Movie that came out this summer (play on West Side Story), I’m hoping that the younger generation will start to enjoy them more and more. Who knows . . . maybe in a few years will have a whole slate of new shows to add to our list. Nothing will replace the classics we love, but I’m always open for some new faves.

  57. i love musicals too. I remember seeing Annie Oakley on TV growing up. My mom loved musicals too. I love the song Anything You Can Do. I guess I’ve taken that one for my song. I have always tried to do guy things.At least when I could. When I was growing up boys an girls didn’t play on the same teams in baseball or football. I was just out of time. Loved South Pacific(Gonna Wash That Man Right Outta My Hair and Some Enchanted Evening) and the Music Man. The older version with Robert Preston& Shirley Jones. As a music major in college I got to see several musicals and operas along with lots of music concerts and recitals (was in a few too.) I remember seeing The Harvey Girls on TV but haven’t seen it lately. I may have just missed it with so many channels now. Great post. Made me do a lot of thinking.

  58. I love musicals! I remember falling in love with them when I was young, when I first saw a Doris Day musical. Ever since then I’ve been hooked. My Two Favourite western musicals are Calamity Jane with Doris Day and Seven Brides for Seven Brothers. Other musicals I love are Meet Me In St.Louis, Singing in the Rain, Tea for Two and alot more.

  59. My favorite is Oklahoma. Don’t think I’ve ever seen Paint Your Wagon, but I’ll take care of that soon. Wish musicals and westerns would make a comeback. Yeah, I know there are a few but not like the past.

  60. I have to laugh every time I hear “Everything is up. To date in Kansas City” from Oklahoma. Because I live in a small town out side of KC and think that the song is so funny, but then I have to think that it would be right for that time period. I’m going to have to check out Heavey Girls and if I like it I will tell a lady at my church. Her mother was a Harvey Girl back in the days. Wish there were more books written about the Harvey Girls (hint hint).

  61. Beth – How cool that you know of an actual Harvey Girl. Love it!!! I’ve thought about working one of them into a story. I might just have to do that one of these days. 🙂

  62. Ms. Karen, it would be totally awesome if you could, for I know you would have at least two readers for that book. Ms. Pat and myself. I love history and when you put it is fun surroundings it makes it some much more interesting. Civil War History is my thing but I love reading any type.

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