Theatre / Feature

10 feel-good films to watch to get your theatre fix

These movies will lift your spirits and help satisfy your longing for the stage.

With stages in the West End and across the UK closed due to the coronavirus outbreak, you’re sure to miss watching actors tread the boards in your favourite shows.

While being at the theatre is a magical experience that can’t be replaced, you can still feel a bit stage-y by viewing a film at home. To help escape the realities of daily life as well as make you laugh out loud, we’ve rounded up 10 heart-warming movies that were either based on or eventually became theatre productions.

So sit back on your sofa and immerse yourself in these sweet stories.


Hairspray

How to watch it: Rent from Amazon Prime Video

This film is so big-hearted it can make the confines of your TV disappear. Huge on everything from the hair to the dance numbers, Hairspray features John Travolta not only starring in his first musical since Grease, but also dressing in drag to play oversized and overprotective mother Edna Turnblad.

Released in 2007, Hairspray actually tackles the serious issue of integration in 1962-era Baltimore while also encouraging individuality, love and acceptance. The perfect musical movie for releasing all your pent-up emotions, be sure to crank up the volume and let everything out during iconic numbers like Run And Tell That and You Can’t Stop The Beat.


Mary Poppins

How to watch it: Stream on NOW TV and DisneyLife/Disney+*

Seeing angelic Julie Andrews as the unflappable nanny with magical powers is just the medicine we all need in tough times. Although Mary Poppins came out on film in 1964, it’s still practically perfect in every way.

From the minute she floats down on her umbrella to Number 17 Cherry Tree Lane, Mary Poppins’ sensible nature brings calm to the chaotic Banks’ household and her whimsical ways help them rediscover their sense of joy and love.

So pour yourself a spoonful of sugar and get ready to smile and sing along to the movie’s incredibly catchy score – as we guarantee Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious, Chim Chim Cher-ee and all its other songs will stay in your head for days to come.


9 To 5

How to watch it: Rent from Amazon Prime Video

This 1980 office satire is the kind of comedy that can make you laugh on even the darkest of days. It follows the incomparable Jane Fonda, Lily Tomlin and Dolly Parton as three hard-working, underpaid and hugely mistreated secretaries in New York City who decide to take action and create a happier, more progressive workplace.

An absolute classic, you don’t have to wake up with a cup of ambition to enjoy seeing them take revenge on their tyrannical boss – and you’ll never tire of hearing Parton’s 9 To 5 anthem for which the movie is named.


Sister Act

How to watch it: Stream on NOW TV and DisneyLife/Disney+*

Get ready for a divine time. The irrepressible Whoopi Goldberg stars in this 1993 film as a sassy Nevada lounge singer who witnesses a mob killing and then is forced to hide out in the only place no one would ever think look for her – a convent.

Always landing in a hilarious situation, you’ll love seeing her turn the tone-deaf choir into some seriously rockin’ sisters. Filled with riotous song-and-dance numbers, Sister Act bursts with ’60s Motown songs that have been given fun religious interpretations such as I Will Follow Him (tracing back to Frank Pourcel’s 1961 instrumental Chariot) and My God (based on Mary Wells’ 1964 hit My Guy).


MAMMA MIA!

How to watch it: Rent from Amazon Prime Video

This has to be one of the happiest films ever made. Directed by Phyllida Lloyd, who originally guided the musical to conquer the West End and then fan out to Broadway and the wider world, it’s no surprise the 2008 movie is a super trouper.

Following a young girl’s quest to find her real father before she gets married, MAMMA MIA! pulls on the heartstrings, with great tenderness shown between stars Meryl Streep and Amanda Seyfried. Warning: They may bring tears to your eyes.

Of course, you’ll never get enough of all the ABBA tunes delivered by Donna And The Dynamos, which are guaranteed to help you unleash your inner Dancing Queen.


Hello, Dolly!

How to watch it: Stream on NOW TV or rent from Amazon Prime Video

Directed by dance legend Gene Kelly, this 1969 film stars Barbra Streisand as New York matchmaker Dolly Levi, and Walter Matthau as Horace Vandergelder, the “half-millionaire” who hires her. Dolly’s a widow and soon attempts to woo him for herself – while a whole game of relationship musical chairs unfolds among the other characters.

Full of fun and misadventures, Hello, Dolly! also contains a couple of big showstoppers in Before The Parade Passes By and Put On Your Sunday Clothes that even after 50 years will still blow you away. Plus, Streisand’s duet with Louis Armstrong in the recording of the title track is truly the stuff of dreams.


The Lion King

How to watch it: Stream on NOW TV and Disney+*

While the world-famous musical which has been running for over 20 years in the West End is temporarily shut, check out this 2019 remake helmed by actor-director Jon Favreau and see all the cherished characters come to life in a whole new way.

Showcasing photo-realistic animals and sweeping African landscapes, The Lion King offers up the same story with Danny Glover as Simba and Beyoncé as Nala. You’ll enjoy new arrangements of the beloved songs as well as hear a couple of original tunes. What’s more, Timon and Pumbaa, voiced by Billy Eichner and Seth Rogen, will tickle your funny bone, especially when they belt out their famous Hakuna Matata.


Waitress

How to watch it: Rent on Amazon Prime Video

As one of the biggest smash hit musicals in the past five years, take this opportunity to see the 2007 film that inspired it all. Keri Russell shines as a small town waitress and gifted pie-maker. Although trapped with a horrible husband in a seemingly hopeless life, the thing she dreads most is what gives her the courage to change it all.

In addition to providing a slice of joy, Waitress may pique your interest in something else while you’re spending all this time at home: baking. After seeing the cavalcade of scrumptiously imaginative pies on screen – ranging from the Marshmallow Mermaid Pie and Naughty Pumpkin Pie, to the Fallin’ In Love Chocolate Mousse Pie and I Hate My Husband Pie – why not try experimenting in the kitchen a bit more yourself?


Cinderella

How to watch it: Stream on NOW TV and DisneyLife/Disney+*

Even if you’re not an incurable romantic, the 2015 live-action version of Cinderella will sweep you off your feet. Plus it’s good preparation for when Andrew Lloyd Webber’s highly anticipated re-invention of the classic fairy tale comes to the West End.

Based on Disney’s original 1950 animated film, the costumes and cinematography are visually stunning, and the soundtrack is enchanting. An idyllic couple, Lily James and Richard Madden also ooze chemistry as Ella and the Prince. And its message to “have courage and be kind” is something we should all remember these days.


Pretty Woman

How to watch it: Rent on Amazon Prime Video

This 1990 film starring Richard Gere as a wealthy executive and Julia Roberts as a call girl with a heart of gold is “a sure thing”. Indeed Pretty Woman became the blockbuster that propelled her into stardom. Whether it’s her toothy grin or the vinyl thigh-high boots, Roberts is magnetic to watch – especially when she shames the snide saleswomen who refused to wait on her.

Although you could poke holes through the plot, the movie is still irresistibly warm and funny. One of the all-time great rags-to-riches romances, there’s no better time to let yourself fall in love with it all over again.


*DisneyLife is becoming Disney+ which will be available in the UK from 24 March 2020.

Share post