Mammia mia, here we go again. My my, how could I resist musicals? My love for Phantom of the Opera probably won’t be quite evergreen or as unchanging as the sea, but I often find myself sparing a thought for Christine and her Angel of Music (and quite honestly, when Gerard Butler speaks, I listen. He can stay by my side and guide me all he likes.)
The escapism of musicals should not be underestimated. The voice of a talking lion reverberating from the sky can make you remember who you are, and Galinda’s chirpy popularity advice lets you think of who you will be, instead of dreary who you were. (Are.) And then there’s nothing that can stop you from being populer. (Lar.) Every young kid has fantasised about no-one saying do this, no-one saying be there, no-one saying stop that, no-one saying see here, and so many young ladies of sixteen-going-on-seventeen have felt like little girls waiting on an empty stage for fate to turn the light on. Musicals are a dream, a fantasy, to help you through reality (if you’re the kind of person who sees the wonder of a fairytale). Musicals let your mind start a journey to a strange new world and leave all thoughts of the life you knew before.
It’s also all about those moments when words run dry, when speech disappears into silence, silence. The first time I saw a musical (it was like shooting a sitting duck, Grizabella sang and I was stuck), I held my breath for half of Midnight, not a sound from the pavement. Ah, let the memory live again. Musicals sharpen, heighten each sensation, stir and wake imagination. When Eponine tails off after “rain will make the flowers…”, Marius being “here” is really not all you need to know to prevent your heart from breaking in the three seconds of silence before she dies in his arms and he finishes her line, “…grow.”
Voulez-vous? Take it now or leave it. Now is all we get. Plenty promised, a £75 dent in your wallet to regret. Though you protest your disinterest, I know clandestinely that you’re going to grin and bear it – musicals’ undying popularity.