I confess: I denied it for years. ‘No no no, I do see some musicals, yes- but mostly I see dramas and comedies- big musicals are too cheesy!’ And yet…I went to so many musicals and thoroughly enjoyed them. I still struggle to pin down the exact reason for my denial (which lasted for years).
What were the possible reasons on offer? Perhaps it was a genuine dislike of some of the cheesiest moments in the musicals I saw early on (no names). Perchance it was the cynicism of my partners in conversation – that raised eyebrow of judgement which so often appears when talk of musical theatre arrives into the lives of non-fans.
But slowly the realisation crept in…if I wasn’t such a big fan of musicals, why was I paying small fortunes to see so many of them and why did I keep going back for more? I was a fool, of course- I am completely in love with musical theatre and I now (for a few years now, actually) own that love and proudly sing the praises of some of the best shows I’ve ever seen- many of which are, in actual fact, of course, musicals…
So for the record (and to redeem myself), let me specify the jewels in the crown of musical theatre.
I love musicals for their joy, their tragedy, and their ability to lift you out of your own world and plant you into Grand worlds of majestic sets with fabulous, jaw-dropping costumes and voices which make both rafters and heartstrings ring.
Musicals time and again showcase the extraordinary capabilities of modern productions and the results are often incredibly moving, whether to laugher or tears. The heightened, affecting nature of the gem cannot be denied. Musicals carry powerful messages and often provide important social commentary- ‘Wicked’, ‘Memphis’, ‘The Color Purple’ and ‘Priscilla: Queen of the Desert’ are prime examples.
Musicals are powerful in ways which dramas and comedies struggle to rival. The medium of song seems to elevate every type of emotion and the quality of the music and the voices make musical theatre some of the most striking and memorable of all productions on stage.
I love musical theatre for the very things I once offered as reasons for dislike: the jazz-hands, the over the top characters and yes, even the cheese… let’s face it, sometimes cheese is needed in the name of escapism! Musical theatre is FUN. It’s joyous and it is beautifully enveloping; a sure-fire way to lift a mood and get a whole audience up on their feet for a spontaneous flash mob.
I love having the cast albums in my car to keep me energised and to assist me with amusing fellow drivers with my uninhibited attempts to channel my inner Celie. I love musical theatre for the catharsis, the way it makes me think and live beyond the daily grind.
I love musical theatre for so, so many reasons and I have no real, solid idea of why or how I ever though otherwise. So, to the world of musical theatre: I whole-heartedly apologise for the delay in my open appreciation and I solemnly swear to sing your praises loud and proud – if a little tone-deaf…
Note: this article was originally posted at OnStageBlog.com.