Friday, 13 January 2012

Musicals! They're wicked.

My Christmas Holiday
Milton Keynes, Buckinghamshire, England
14 December 2011 - 2 January 2012
Orchestrated by my fabulous brother-in-lawHostess: My beautiful sisterLive Entertainment by The Little Precious Ones (LPOs)

Although I hadn't planned to see any shows this time around, the exchange rate being what it is, I managed to find a really cheap ticket to Les Misérables. When I say cheap, I mean: the very back seat of the upper circle. Not great but the binoculars helped. It is a grand show indeed, huge, dramatic, brilliant and the music is very, very good.
I am always amazed at the professionalism of the performers who, matinée after matinée, night after night, give of their all to make the show feel as fresh and alive as when it was first performed. Maybe, like us, they don't get tired of belting out the showstopping tunes?

A week later, on the ruse of a trip to Camden, my wonderful sister treated me to Wicked - better seats, more 'wow' sets and costumes and some clever plot lines but besides the two torch songs, the music was mostly forgettable. Never mind! It was wicked, wicked, Wicked! And I loved it.

Although my sis and I (that's us in the top photo, in case you were wondering) are similar in many ways, I've often felt that I play Elphaba to her Glinda, partly because of our looks, partly because she's the one who shines, who's popular and pretty and Gets Things Right.

But, as all good musicals should, Wicked reminded me that each is us is special in her own way and has something to offer the world.

More entertainment was provided by my oldest niece, who loves singing, loudly and for long periods of time. She's definitely cut out for showbiz - she has the looks, the confidence, the pizzazz and the energy of a leading lady.

Her little sister would shine as a cabaret singer, interacting with a smaller audience and drawing them in with her mesmerising voice. She could be a dancer, too - she has amazing rhythm!

Singing I Feel Pretty while all us girls were getting ready for a New Year's Eve party is one particularly fond memory of my visit.

Their older brother is quite happy to sing in the shower and has a great voice but would probably be happier in the chorus. When we complimented him on his shower singing, he became bashful and told us 'That's private!'

What they all have in common is their love of music and dancing and their eagerness to do either, or both, whenever they feel like it. I hope they don't lose that to horrible peer pressure; that, in the spirit of Defying Gravity, they carry on doing what they love simply because it brings them pleasure. Okay, and us too.

After the Christmas mayhem had died down, my sister, her husband and I spent many happy hours watching the first episodes of Glee, stopping only for comfort breaks and so that my awesome brother-in-law could make coffee (Irish and other).

I wish we'd had something like a glee club at school, with supportive teachers, an eclectic bunch of brilliant misfits and the opportunity to perform in something other than the tedious school musical.

I hope the glee spreads and more children, teenagers and teachers throw off their inhibitions and become comfortable with singing - loudly - in public, rather than only in the car, shower, or in front of the mirror with a hairbrush (when nobody is around, of course!).

If anyone knows of a glee club for adults in Joburg, I'm desperate to join!

Finally, I must recommend a delightful book called What Would Barbara Do? How Musicals Changed My Life, by Emma Brockes. This girl really knows her musicals! She's smart, funny, insightful, irreverant and somehow manages to take musicals seriously without taking them seriously.

Here's to a great show in 2012! 

I recently spent three weeks in the UK with my sister-from-another-mother, her lovely husband and three gorgeous children. While there, I was fortunate to see two West End musicals, participate in a song-and-dance routine with my sister in her lounge (with hubby as the Spotify DJ, amused onlooker and excellent barman), listen to the children singing carols in various degrees of tunefulness, and watch most of the first season of Glee (again).