comfort in culture #2 : musicals

Quite a while back I wrote a post about finding comfort in culture, notably The Gilmore Girls which you can find here. 

Today I wanted to talk a little bit about musical theatre, looking specifically at a couple of shows that I  find particular comfort in.

CATS

A lot of people don’t ‘get’ CATS and I will admit that on the second time seeing it I did realise there isn’t much of a story line. However, that isn’t really the point of it, at least not for me anyway. It is more about the world that Lloyd Webber creates, ruled by cats, all with their own characters. This musical is particularly important to me because it was the first I ever saw when I was only about 4 or 5. My mum, my dad and I travelled up to London and met my mum’s friend who also happened to be working on the show so I got to have an exclusive look backstage. I watched the actors put on their make up, I tried on the costumes and even got to stand on the stage and see all the details of the set. We then went for dinner in Covent Garden and I drank so much orange juice and was so excitable that I spent a lot of the show getting up to go to the toilet. However, I still remember being amazed by the whole thing and my parents made the silly mistake of buying me the video of the show (YES THE VIDEO! AS IN A VHS!) and for the next year I watched it every morning and danced around and sung to it. I probably drove my family mad but it really was the start of a love affair for me so the show really does hold a special place in my heart.

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photo of the London Palladium 2014/2015 from here

JOSEPH AND THE AMAZING TECHNICOLOR DREAM COAT

I’m pretty sure I watched the video of this show, the one with Jason Donovan as Joseph, before I saw it in the theatre. Myself and my friend, Emily, would watch it every time I was at her house and soon my parents realised they would probably have to take me to go and see it as I was ALWAYS singing the songs.

We saw one show at the Milton Keynes theatre where the Pharaoh came onto the stage on a motorbike and they had a real donkey – not sure why I remember these two random facts and nothing else about the show! A couple of years later, Andrew Lloyd Webber held a TV talent show to find his next Joseph, which ended up being Lee Mead. After being gripped by the show I begged my parents to take me to see his rendition of Close Every Door, my favourite song from the show. Lee Mead is also definitely on my list of weird childhood crushes I used to have, alongside Skandar Keynes who played Edmund in the Narnia Chronicles and Lloyd Daniels from the X Factor. (Side note: I had no idea Lloyd played Joseph in the 2014 UK Tour until I began my hunt for a picture to use for this post – WEIRD!)

This show features on my list because not only do I have wonderful memories attached to it that make it comforting but I also love the huge range of different genres the songs reflect. From disco to french laments, there’s a song for everyone.

 

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photo from the 2014 UK Tour from here

GREASE

Whilst writing this post I am beginning to realise that my favourite musicals were all introduced to me by friends. I first saw the movie of Grease at a friend’s house and quickly fell in love with the music, the characters and the story. I have since seen the show three times in the theatre and I still stand by my childhood wish to play Sandy one day. To me it perfectly encapsulates one of my favourite eras in American social history and no one can deny that Grease Lightning makes you want to dance!

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photo from the UK tour from here

I will restrain myself from writing anymore about musical theatre because honestly the list of musicals I love is longer than my arm. So maybe there will be a part two to this post. Nevertheless, I hope I managed to convey the point that to me, musicals are incredibly comforting. Their soundtracks have often accompanied a shower singalong, living room concert or long car journey. The films have often been watched curled up on a Sunday afternoon. The theatre will always be a safe space and a home for me and most importantly, they never fail to comfort me.

 

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