Friday, 25 May 2012

Friday Five: Top Musicals

Some of my friends are currently performing in the Showbiz Queenstown production of The Sound of Music. Of course, I wish them all the very best and I'm sure they will be having a fabulous season (people seem to love this musical!) but I had to leave the country to avoid watching it. Honestly, for me it is the worst musical ever - it's so outrageously saccharine and features singing children.

When I tried to explain to Him Outdoors why I disliked it so much, I mentioned My Favourite Things, The Lonely Goatherd, Do-Re-Mi, So Long Farewell, Sixteen Going on Seventeen, Edelweiss, Climb Ev'ry Mountain, and, of course, the vomit-inducing title song. He was in total agreement, in fact I had him at My Favourite Things. I was forced to watch it once when a dear friend of mine played the part of Maria - you were excellent Pipi - but, never again.

It may be the legacy of Julie Andrews - I love Julie Andrews (and Mary Poppins is excellent, although I was disappointed that the stage musical removes some of the social history elements to make it more sentimental and less political). Perhaps that is part of the problem - no one can be her, but everyone tries, because there is so little room for interpretation. 

Anyway, it got me thinking about my favourite musicals. I'm just considering the stage stuff here. So while I love Some Like It Hot, Moulin Rouge and the film version of The Wizard of Oz (although I saw it on stage in Stratford and was very disappointed) I'm not going to count them. Maybe I'll do musical films another time? The film of West Side Story is so good that no stage version I've seen can compete.

And some date. Recently I watched Carousel for the first time, wanting to see how You'll Never Walk Alone fits in, and was disgusted by the inherent sexism. Sample dialogue: 'I loved my wife'; 'Then why did you beat her?' 'I didn't beat her, I just hit her' - well, that's alright then! While the story-line was appalling, the dancing in the big numbers such as June is Busting Out All Over is excellent.

Often one song or one scene can steal the show. The opening chords of Phantom of the Opera send shivers down my spine. The set and staging of The Lion King brought a lump to my throat when I saw it in the West End. Watching my friend in purple tights in The Producers made me howl with laughter (sorry, Matt), and the production of Showboat that I saw in Oamaru is probably the best amateur musical I've ever seen.

Other musicals can be made by the people you saw performing in them. A great Che makes a fabulous Evita; a bad Enjolras ruins Les Miserables. I have a soft spot for Jesus Christ Superstar as it was the first musical I ever performed in. I know everyone feels affection for shows in which they have performed (with the possible exception of Rush!), so I am going to include only shows that I've seen rather than been in.

5 Favourite Musicals:
  1. My Fair Lady - I think this is the first musical I ever saw. I loved it. I wanted to act and sing and dance and entertain. I came home and I really could have danced all night. It's sublime. And when I saw it at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane in 2002, there was no less magic.
  2. Oh, What a Lovely War! - a musical with a message: the changing mood of this has stuck with me for ever, and proves that musicals don't just have to be light and fluffly
  3. Me and My Girl - musicals can be light and fluffy. This is such fun - a sensational spectacle
  4. Cats - musicals don't have to have a point. All singing, all dancing felines with T.S. Elliot's words and Andrew Lloyd Webber's music - cat-tastic!
  5. Chicago - I took my parents to see this in the West End in 2001. The cast (including Denise Van Outen as Roxie Hart and Alison Moyet as Mama), the staging, the music and the dancing were all fabulous. I can see what all the fuss is about.

Okay, so now tell me yours. And I am fully expecting Bad Fairy to reply with Oklahoma!


Anonymous said...

Rocky Horror. I saw the Picture Show when I was an impressionable teenager and it stuck like superglue. Stage managing the theatre show just wangled it even further into my psyche. Richard O'Brien is one sick, imaginative, delightful puppy and now he's, officially, a New Zealander! Hugs and kisses - Dairy Queen.

Kate Blackhurst said...

Hey Dairy Queen,

Good to hear from you. I hope you are well.

Fair enough on Rocky Horror I suppose. Not one of my favourites, but of course, personal involvement and first impressions always colour one's prespective.

Also, I never new Richard O'Brien had a Kiwi connection until I went to live in NZ...

Kate x