Recently we've been watching “The Story of Musicals” on BBC TV (strictly speaking it's the history of British musicals from the mid 20th Century until now). To be honest it wouldn't be first on my list of things to watch (left to myself) but our girl loves a show and she has, true to form, loved this show about shows. To be really honest it has been a fascinating series... even taking into account the lovey nature of a lot of the interviews (I mean, Lloyd Webber, John Barrowman and Michael Ball all in one show – ye gods!). Having said that Barrowman did quite a good musical/send-himself-up spoof with comedy duo Watson and Oliver recently – that's here.
I learned lots from the series though. Like, did you know that Stephen Fry wrote the revised script for “Me and My Girl” in the 1980s (and made heaps of money from it so he told)? I didn't. Also the series reminded me how much I had enjoyed some songs from musicals growing up.... how my Mum played the “Evita” double LP (Julie Covington version) as she cooked Sunday lunch every week for quite some while (so I know the songs from the show better than I might care to admit...). If you remember I even ended up playing a song from a musical at Mum's funeral (even though she might have said classical and opera were her favourite musical genres). I wrote about that here. And now we have a daughter who LOVES musicals, who loves the programs for musicals (collection in a box upstairs), who has only stuck to one after-school activity throughout primary school (musical theatre classes – 2 shows a year). So even if I sometimes want to agree with comedian Stewart Lee (who I wrote about back here) when he says:
“Music theatre...combines the worst aspects of music with the worst aspects of theatre to create a mutant hybrid that is the worst form of live art that exists”,
I just can't... because some of my very favourite people have loved, and continue to love, this artform. Since our girl has been around, for example, I have seen stage versions (professional or amateur) of: The Addams Family, Annie (twice), Crazy for You, Footloose, Hairspray, High School Musical, Joseph, Les Miserables, Mary Poppins, Oliver, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, Snoopy the Musical, Wicked, The Wiz (can't say I've loved them all but I've seen them... will be seeing another one in a couple of weeks too...). And then there's the whole load I've seen on DVD or video too (too many to list!). “Cabaret” I could watch every day if I had to (can't blame the daughter for that one – she's not seen it yet...). I have done everything I can, however, to avoid “Cats”.
So, thinking about all this, I was wondering which musicals you like... or which songs from musicals you like... or if you have any good stories connected to musicals? I know it's not very cool... and certainly not very poetry-world... but I find myself drifting further and further from all of that (I actually found myself relieved not to be at StAnza poetry festival this weekend just gone... I can't even quite describe why... I think I'd almost rather watch “Cats”...).
Anyway, here's a song from the show “Wicked” - a show we saw a couple of years ago because the girl loves anything to do with the “Wizard of Oz” (in fact I think she might actually be Dorothy sometimes). It's not particularly a favourite show of mine but I play this because the first Xmas after Mum died I was getting started on the cooking on Xmas Day and our girl was playing her CD of the “Wicked” soundtrack and suddenly this song had me weeping into the saucepans. Maybe you had to be there... see what it does for you:
The song was written by Stephen Schwartz, this version sung by Kristin Chenoweth in the Broadway production.