I love musicals.
This is not really a revelation to anyone who knows me, but in searching for a topic for this week’s blog, I realized that in the last few weeks I downloaded the soundtrack to both Guys & Dolls and yet another version of Les Miserables (bringing the total to four separate Les Mis soundtracks on my iPod.) I recently tweeted that I sing “I’ve Got the Horse Right Here” in the elevator at work and I just added Little Shop of Horrors to my Amazon wishlist.
Therefore, the topic of musicals seemed timely…
I was raised on a diet of Gigi, The Sound of Music, Yankee Doodle Dandy and Hello Dolly, but the musical bug didn’t really bite until I joined my High School theater group – and started working backstage during the production of Guys and Dolls. I loved it all: the music, the make-up, the costumes and the happy-ever-after fairy tale ending.
I was almost completely hooked. What tipped me over the edge was going to New York with this same group and seeing my very first Broadway play: Me and My Girl. The moment the orchestra started performing the Overture, my heart started beating faster and I don’t think I blinked until the intermission.
While I know and love at least a few songs from almost every major show from Camelot to Hair and Porgy & Bess to Sunset Boulevard, there are a few shows are especially important to me. First among them are the three musicals I’ve worked on in my life: Guys & Dolls, Oklahoma and Little Shop of Horrors.
Upon request, I am ready to belt out “Take Back Your Mink” “Poor Jud is Dead” or “Suddenly Seymour” at a moment’s notice.
Oddly, I’ve never received such a request. Hmmm….
Over the years, other musicals have wormed their way into my heart including the aforementioned Me and My Girl as my first Broadway musical and Les Miserables for its amazing story and score. There is also a spiritual message of forgiveness and looking into someone’s heart instead of their actions that I find incredibly moving.
- Les Mis and Phantom of the Opera probably vie for top spot as my most favorite musicals of all time and I spent a semester in college miming the latter’s opening organ strains.
- One of the best singers I ever saw – and I still don’t know why he isn’t a household name – was in a Las Vegas production of “We Will Rock You.” While the music is nothing more than a rehashing of Queen’s greatest hits shoehorned into a story (ala Mamma Mia’s treatment of Abba), this one performer made the experience unforgettable.
- I saw Spamalot at the Ogunquit Playhouse a few summers ago with Charles Shaughnessy playing King Arthur and I have literally never laughed so hard in my life. My stomach hurt, my eyes were streaming tears and I couldn’t catch my breath. Just the thought of a few scenes still brings a smile to my face.
- Finally, my friend and I saw Wicked during a trip to London. Imagine a theater full of stiff-upper-lip Brits and two ridiculous American girls sobbing uncontrollably at the finale. Whenever I’m having a rough day, I play the soundtrack and remind myself to try and defy gravity.
So, when an actor’s mouth opens in song, you can be sure that I’ll have a ticket in my hand, a smile on my face and a tear in my eye, singing the soundtrack all the way home.