My friend Becky is amazing; she’s one of life’s ‘doers’ – she seems to be able to organise herself in such a way that she has time to do a million different things all at once and she does them well. Me?? I can barely organise myself to go to work and fill up the car with fuel on the same day without some disaster happening! I admit to being a little jealous of her superpowers and even more envious of her latest adventures…she’s in a drama/musical society; they’ve just performed The Wizard of Oz and now she’s rehearsing for Starlight Express…my ALL TIME favourite show.
This started me thinking and remembering…
I was 9 yrs old and cast as a skinny cow in the school production of Joseph & the Technicolour Dreamcoat – but then along came a small episode of Bronchitis and well, that combined with already existing problematic Asthma meant that I found it all a bit tricky to cope with, and to cut a long story short I nearly died. To be honest this was, on reflection, a bit of an extreme reaction to being called a cow and I probably should have just been pleased that for once I was being called skinny…but hey I was young and who doesn’t get things wrong when their young?!!
I don’t remember much about the whole thing although I do remember ‘The Drink’ – as I recovered I remember being made to drink the most revolting liquid I have ever tasted even to this day (worse than the ‘slippery nipples’ my friends and I drank at Kitty O’Hanlon’s during our uni years – oh happy days, happy days!) – I have no idea what this drink was but it was a weird yellowy/green colour and it was HORRID…I reckon it would’ve rivalled Bellatrix Lestrange’s Polyjuice Potion as the most disgusting drink ever!
Anyways, the upside was I survived; the downside was I never got to be a cow, skinny or otherwise and I’ve never even seen the whole show either…this is one of my most disappointing life facts. BUT despite all of this, it didn’t stop me loving musicals – oh no! I love a good musical, in fact I probably love a bad one too…give me a catchy tune, some bizarre characters and a wildly improbable plot and I’m there singing and tip tapping along with the best (and worst).
When we were younger, our parents would take my sister and me to London every now and then. We’d spend the day with a little shopping on Oxford Street, dinner at Fatty Arbuckle’s and then off to a show – always so exciting!! My first show was Barnham – with Michael Crawford – as a young girl going to her first show this was jaw droppingly fantastic! Full of fun, humour and so so colourful – I loved it! I will never forget seeing the chandelier drop in The Phantom of the Opera and being haunted by the powerful songs of Les Miserables. I remember coming away from Miss Saigon feeling like someone had punched a hole through my heart – I cried on and off for a week.
One of my favourite experiences ever was when I was 11. My parents took me to see Starlight Express – I was totally blown away – people were trains for a start…how cool was that?! Then there were the actors, racing around the theatre – up and down tracks, whizzing by the audience on roller boots whilst singing AND dancing – totally and utterly absurdly wonderful! I remember getting the soundtrack and playing it on my little red tape recorder over and over and OVER! I must have driven my parents mad. When Becky told me she was rehearsing for this show I went home and immediately listened to the whole soundtrack again that very afternoon…it’s still fabulous!
Film musicals can be just as wonderful too – take for example Top Hat – ahhh the delights of Astaire & Rogers dancing Cheek to Cheek… a classic if ever there was one. Grease is most definitely the word, even my boys like that one (which is high praise) and I could cite The Sound of Music, Chicago, Singing in the Rain, the world of Disney and, Dammit Janet, I mustn’t forget The Rocky Horror Picture Show too…indeed the list is endless!
Some musicals are funny, some just pootle along in nonsensical wonderfulness and warm your cockles. Others are sincere and heart wrenching – Blood Brothers took me months to get over, in fact I really don’t think I can hear any of that soundtrack without getting goosebumps even 20+ years later. Whatever their style, for me a musical’s substance is all about enchanting escapism – the opportunity to fling out reality with a ‘Do-Re-Mi’.
So that’s where I’m off to now, I shall follow that yellow brick road all the way to a land of Pure Imagination. I’ve found my copy of The Slipper and The Rose so I am going to go have a jolly good singsong to the merry goings-on in the Kingdom of Euphrania and cheer on Cinderella as she wins Prince Edward’s heart…
…and one day, maybe if I’m very lucky, I’ll close my eyes, draw back my curtains and find that amazing technicolour dreamcoat…after all Any Dream Will Do.