Musical musings

Well the festive period is officially over! No more busting the bank looking for presents, no more not know what day or date it is, no more eating leftover turkey or (acceptably) drinking pre 12pm. No wonder I feel so frazzled!

Along with all the usual Christmas over indulgence, my festive time has been filled with….musicals! There’s something ever so Christmassy about seeing a musical and being full of festive cheer I decided to treat myself to some pre Christmas song and dance.

Before the ‘big day’ (i.e. the second coming of Santa), I bought a day seat to Memphis The Musical. I’d seen it advertised a couple of months ago and was really struck by how good the songs were even from the short Youtube trailer. I’m not usually one to take a chance on a new west end musical, mainly due to ticket prices being ridiculous and also because I try to support smaller Fringe theatre productions, but I really really wanted to see this one.

I managed to get myself a front row day seat on the 23rd Dec for a very reasonable £20. It was a matinee show and I’d say the theatre was only just half full – perhaps not unusual considering most people leave London just before crimbo! I’ve never sat right on the front row of a west end musical before and it’s quite an intense experience as more than once I managed to catch an actors eye mid dance lift. However it also gave me a real appreciation of how hard work it is doing a musical like this – you’ve got to be SO physically fit to do eight shows of this per week.

When I did my directors course at Mountview I worked briefly with the musical theatre students on a couple of shows and the energy they had at times was unbelievable. Even watching their morning workout before rehearsals left me exhausted! All of that energy looks so effortless on stage but when you’ve seen the rehearsal process with the endless going over of dance routines, the intense vocal warm ups, and the fact that they are essentially sprinting around all day singing songs a the top of their voice you really appreciate how dedicated you have to be to make it all work. Because of this I was really happy to see one of the students I’d worked with at Mountview in a supporting role in Memphis – he was as excellent as expected!

The musical itself was just amazing, I would recommend it to anyone and it was so refreshing to see a new production that had such good songs – I was humming this one for days afterwards. I only hope that it continues to do well at the box office as I know how hard it can be for a new show (albeit one that transferred from Broadway) to really break through and become a fixture in the west end.

My second musical outing is happening this week – after twenty eight years I’m finally seeing Les Miserables! For some reason I’ve never got round to seeing this on stage so as a Christmas present my husband bought us both tickets to see it this Friday. I’m really interested to see what I think of it as it’s become such an institution, particularly after the film, that it seems almost untouchable now in its popularity. Anyway I’ll be sure to report my findings next week!

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