QOTW: Musicals

QOTW Penguin

This week, I ask “musicals – Yes, or No?

A sub-question would have to be “Andrew Lloyd Webber musicals – yes or no?

Now, I like musicals. Always have, always will. When I was younger I was a sucker for the music, the drama, the dancing, the costumes! As I get older, that is still the case, but I also find myself enjoying the nostalgia, the cheese, the atmosphere. Musicals mean a departure from the everyday, an event, an evening out. Musicals were the tapes I retreated to on long car journeys.

I should stress, that by musicals I am mainly referring to stage productions. Musicals-as-films I am less sure of. Something about it doesn’t come across quite right for me. I am perfectly happy with my characters occasionally bursting into song (Grease!), but having the majority of dialogue sung on the movie screen doesn’t seem to have the same impact. Whether it is because of the medium, or the execution, or some combination of both I do not know, but it’s just not my cup of tea. I was NOT a fan of Evita (though I like the music). Phantom was OK, but then I haven’t seen the stage version, so I cannot compare. I haven’t seen Les Mis yet so again I cannot comment, but I have the suspicion it will be the exception that proves the rule.

Musicals can have story lines – Phantom, Les Mis. They can be a more-or-less coherent story built around a collection of songs – Mama Mia, Cats. They can be completely barmy – We Will Rock You. They can make you laugh, cry, see the world through new eyes.

So yeah, I like musicals. How about you?

Just don’t get me started on most movies-into-musicals. I am still recovering from Legally Blonde last year. *shudder*

(Side thought on the difference between film and stage:
It might be partly because musicals are much more about the auditory experience than the visual. You are not up close to the actors so the whole body and voice is essential to carry the message. On film, you have a crystal clear view of the actors and their tiniest expression, subtlest shift. Stage actors are proxies for the characters you imagine in your head from the songs sung (and words said). Film actors ARE the characters. Maybe?)

2 thoughts on “QOTW: Musicals

  1. I think they can be great and absolutely best when seen on stage. There are a lot that just don’t interest me: Miss Saigon, Cats, and Blood Brothers to name but a few. I, like most schoolkids in this country, was scarred by the school putting on its own musicals. I’ll never feel revulsion towards any musical as I do towards Joseph and his Technicolour Dreamcoat. The song with all the colours haunts me to this very day.

    I have only seen one movie to musical that I actually enjoyed and that was Spamalot. I’d happily watch that over and over, just like the films! Perhaps because Monty Python already did lots of songs in their sketches and movies so the source lent itself more appropriately?

    I’m a sucker for spectacle so when, as a child, I saw Starlight Express on a rare trip to London I was amazed and awed. It still sits at the top of my list even though I know that more recent shows like We Will Rock You, Spamalot, etc were better in almost every way…nostalgia counts for a lot I guess. Les Mis was a fantastic day out too, and I remember my parents blasting out that and Phantom (which I’ve not seen on stage) after picking up CDs after the event.

    I like musicals, but I suppose like music, plays and films or any creative art form I have a specific taste and not all musicals are equal by any measure! 🙂

  2. I can’t even listen to the music of Cats. It is all tied up with fever dreams, my grandfather’s death, blood poisoning, and near death experiences. Frankly, watching grown men and women prance around dressed as singing cats is trippy enough at the best of times. Now imagine what it would be like whilst you are running a 104 degree fever. Yup.

    I didn’t do a school musical – acting on stage never appealed, and it was a choice and not forced at my school (thank the lords). So all my musicals have been self/family inflicted. I just find it awesome in the very real sense of the word, how much emotion can be portrayed in a song, by a gifted singer.

    I’ve seen the following on stage:
    Joseph – once with Philip Schofield (it should have been Jason Donovan, I was SO let down!), once with Darren Day. There is nothing else to say, really.
    Starlight – once in London, once a touring production. Both enjoyable, but I wouldn’t say I adored it. Thomas the Tank Engine was the pinnacle of my train-related entertainment.
    Oklahoma – with Hugh Jackman, no less. Highly enjoyable.
    Cats – see above.
    We Will Rock You – just great fun. But I am a huge Queen fan, so it was really just lots of music I liked with dancing. What’s not to like?
    Miss Saigon – *sob*
    Legally Blonde – no. Just, no.
    (Avenue Q – not sure this counts 😉 )

    I must have seen others, I just can’t bring them to mind right now!

    Like you, I knew Phantom from the soundtrack way before I saw the movie. And I pretty much knew what was happening. More or less. Seeing it acted out did help a little bit – and I never realised “Point of No Return” was so raunchy!

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