When I’m feeling down (and there’s been a bit of that lately), I tend to turn to music. Sometimes I want something that is uplifting, sometimes I need something to make me cry. Other times I listen to Linkin Park to relieve my teen angst and reminisce about simpler times!
My most favourite music is from musicals! If you groaned or rolled your eyes you might as well tune out now because you are obviously a soulless person with poor musical taste.
My first introduction to musicals was Mary Poppins and The Sound of Music. I have heard that there are some people who have never seen these but you also can’t believe everything you read on the internet so I’m not sure where I stand here. My mother tells me that I used to watch the Sound of Music, press rewind* and watch it again. (*For the young people out there, we used to watch movies on VHS or ‘video tape’ where tape whirled quickly from one side to the other in a clunky machine twice the size of a DVD player (you should remember those) producing moving pictures. It’s a magic lost on your generation. For the oldies – ‘be kind, rewind’.)
As I’ve gotten older, my taste in musicals has become, in my not so humble opinion, more sophisticated. Move over Sir Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber, my heart now belongs to Tim Minchin and Lin-Manuel Miranda.
What I love about musicals is there is always a lesson. Something beautiful or truthful or hopeful to take away. My personal motto comes care of the wisest character in The Lion King, Pumba – home is where your rump rests. Ne’er a truer word was spoken, but I digress.
Tim Minchin, Aussie larrikin known originally for his musical comedy, is the genius behind Matilda: The Musical. I loved Roald Dahl’s Matilda as a child and the musical is one of the best I’ve seen. I highly recommend you see it if you get a chance. I also highly recommend taking me with you, your shout of course.
But what can an adult learn from Matilda? Well…
Just because I find myself in this story,
It doesn’t mean that everything is written for me,
If I think the ending is fixed already
I might as well be saying, I think that it’s OK.
And that’s not right.
Or the innocence of children’s view of the future
When I grow up
I will be brave enough to fight the creatures
That you have to fight beneath the bed each night
To be a grown up
Or the simple imagery…
Like silence but not really silent.
Just that still sort of quiet
Like the sound of a page being turned in a book
Or a pause in a walk in the woods.
Then there is Hamilton. The stage play, not the suburb or the island. Lin-Manuel Miranda, genius writer, composer and funny guy, spent the better part of six years creating this show. In an era where people get impatient that it takes six years to age six years, that’s pretty impressive.
I know I shouldn’t feel connected to a musical about one of the founding fathers of America who is described in the lyrics as a ‘…bastard, orphan, son of a whore…’ (unless there’s a bunch of things my parents haven’t told me) but it’s such an intelligently written musical that captures the beauty, intelligence, drive, determination and fallibility of humans.
Death doesn’t discriminate
Between the sinners and the saints
It takes and it takes and it takes
And we keep living anyway
We rise and we fall and we make our mistakes…
There are moments that the words don’t reach
There is a grace too powerful to name
We push what we can never understand
We push away the unimaginable
Or the line that has consumed and comforted me at times over the last year
Legacy. What is a legacy?
It’s planting seeds in a garden you never get to see.
It was tempting to post more of the music I’ve listened to over the last year, but I wouldn’t last long in jail. And I don’t think ‘copyright infringement’ gives you much credibility behind bars. If you want to hear more, come on a road trip with me. It’s like your own personal Broadway show on wheels. I’m fabulous in it. The soundtracks are also available on iTunes and various streaming services if you want to do it the boring way.
I could go on forever about the brilliance of musicals – theatre and movies. Chicago, The Phantom of the Opera, The Boy From Oz, Grease (and Grease 2), Rocky Horror, the musical episode of Buffy. But if you’re not already on the bandwagon nodding along knowingly already, then I’m afraid there’s no hope for you.