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Ready to host your musical themed party?
The thought of a misplaced theme can put a bad taste in many a mouth: prom and dance themes are always trite and hyperbolic; a room or restaurant designed around a theme is usually kitschy.
Trite is never good, and kitschy only works for a party. In fact, kitschy makes a really fun party.
Hence the Sherri Theme Theorem: party + theme = fun.
But when they picked up on my Musical Sunday theme for Glee week I was tickled. I was also inspired to let you all in on the most fun tradition that a manageable group of friends can have.
To clue in those of you unfamiliar with Musical Sunday, it all started a dozen plus years ago in a teeny apartment in Tempe, Arizona. A drunken night out culminated in an uproariously fun late night in.
Singing along with The Sound of Music proved enormously entertaining to my roomie, Eric, our baby doxie, Leto, and me. Leto sealed the Musical Sunday deal by singing the Goat Song louder, better and with more accurate yodeling than either Eric or myself.
Subsequent Sundays were often spent in eager anticipation of seeing Leto sing the Goat Song. Champagne would accompany our fete (Leisel: I’d like to stay and taste my first champagne, yes? Captain Von Trapp: No).
In coming years we’d add some German meats and bake crisp apple strudel. I became enamored with the stylings of the Baroness Schraeder and would attempt to replicate her big bows and chignon. At some point Eric even bought Lederhosen.
And so it goes: the themed musical party was born.
But why limit ourselves?
The Sound Of Music may be the musical pinnacle, but there are other mountains to climb.
If Leto could hit the high notes of the Goat Song (actually called “The Lonely Goat Herd”), what might he do with “Some Enchanted Evening?” And there must be more to eat than strudel, more to drink than champagne.
We thus set out to climb every mountain.
Picking the Musical for your theme party
In the years since that first Musical Sunday, we’ve viewed
- Hello, Dolly!,
- Fiddler On The Roof,
- Alexander’s Ragtime Band,
- High Society,
- The Music Man,
- State Fair,
- West Side Story,
- South Pacific,
- Mamma Mia,
- Yankee Doodle Dandy,
- Thoroughly Modern Millie,
- Hedwig and the Angry Inch,
- A Star is Born,
- and many, many more.
Our musical pool is diverse and we don’t have many rules. Some preferences have been observed over the years (Eric isn’t a big Gene Kelly fan, and neither of us are bowled over by Fred Astaire).
If you’d like to try your own Musical Sunday (or Tuesday, Friday or Saturday), think about what you and your friends want to hear, and what you all would have fun singing.
If you’re willing to watch something you’ve never seen before, download some songs from the soundtrack so you are a familiar with them; you can play these songs as everyone arrives and cocktails are served.
Cocktails For Musical Themed Parties
If possible, review the movie beforehand to see if any particular cocktail or beverage is drunk, ordered, or is pertinent to the movie in any form (i.e. our Sound Of Music Champagne reference) in order to choose your themed beverage.
If you are unable to preview the movie, or if no beverage reference is discernible, choose your beverage according to the
- time period,
- country in which the movie is set,
- or see if a cocktail incorporates the name of a character, group or place within the movie (i.e. Bloody Marias, Storm Trooper cocktails, or Austrian or German beer could work for a SOM party, too).
Make and serve the cocktails before starting the movie. A cocktail hour before the movie will give everyone a chance to loosen up (and if you’ve got the soundtrack pumping in the background, everyone will be familiar with the words when it comes time to sing!)
Planning Costumes For Your Musical Themed Party
I am a big believer in dressing up. Dressing up creates an inclusive atmosphere for everyone and encourages losing yourself in the silly musical-ness of it all.
But that doesn’t mean you have to spend a lot of money on a brand new outfit or fancy costume rental.
Most things can be found in your closet. Ok, maybe not Lederhosen, but a military-inspired jacket or a pencil skirt and frilly blouse could make you a Captain Von Trapp or Baroness Schraeder.
An ascot and a sportcoat could make you a Max. Draping some curtains around you a la Carol Burnett could make you an inspired Von Trapp child.
If someone arrives sans costume, have an appropriate scarf, tie, hat or jacket on hand for them that fits the theme. Just like a fancy restaurant that will make you rent a tie or jacket in order to gain admittance, so should you.
Don’t charge them, though; that would be bad taste. Just make them help cook dinner later.
Musical Themed Food
Food should be chosen in much the same way as the cocktail.
Was something served in the movie?
Where did the movie take place?
What did these people likely eat for dinner?
The Sound Of Music is dripping with choices for food: schnitzel with noodles, crisp apple strudel, heirloom tomatoes, anything German or Austrian (like sauerkraut or potato salad).
Prepare what you can ahead of time: pre-bake that strudel, bread the schnitzel, slice the heirloom tomatoes, and prep the potato salad. This way, when the musical is finished it won’t take another two hours to make dinner.
Musical Themed Party Ideas
The Sound Of Music is my sentimental favorite for Musical Sunday, and we do revisit this standby often, but some other themes have worked out quite well. And here are a few other favorites…
Costumes: Tropical forties
Beverage: Mai Tai
Food: BBQ Pork and Pineapple skewers with red onion
Costumes: Flappers, pinstripes
Beverage: Champagne and Chinese Beer
The Musical Themed Party Tradition Continues…
We started Musical Sundays in my twenties; this past year I turned 40. Leto, the baby doxie whose yodeling inspired Musical Sunday, is now an old, lumpy and grumpy wiener who is still the guest of honor at every party.
Well then, grab a few of your favorite friends and say, “Willkommen, bienvenue, welcome! Fremde, etranger, stranger. Gluklich zu sehen, je suis enchante, Happy to see you, bleibe, reste, stay.” Life is a cabaret.
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