When thinking about musicals you can’t help but thing about Andrew Lloyd Webber. He has achieved the most success in musical theatre and runs one of the largest theatre companies in London. He can be credited for creating the longest running musical production ever and the highest grossing in history. The Phantom of the Opera celebrated its 10,000th Broadway performance on 11 February 2012 which is the first musical to ever to do so and it is still going strong today. His talents at producing musicals are legendary and long may they continue.
Les Misérables is another musical which has been running for over 20 years. More than 60 million people around the world have seen the stage musical in over 40 countrys. Recently it hit the big screen with starring roles for Hugh Jackman, Russell Crowe and Anne Hathaway. If you want a good cry, then head to your cinema and watch it. It is easy to see why it won a golden globe for best motion picture and why it got 8 Oscar nominations and 9 Bafta nominations.
The history of musicals goes back a long way. I once visited the Amphitheatre near Taormina in Sicily and you can bet it saw its fair share of musicals in its time. The Romans are believed to have copied the Greek theatres’ and performed in enclosed wooden structures. They attached metal chips to the shows to enhance the sound of the dancing. I am guessing these would be classed as the first tap shoes.
There is something just great about musicals when they are done well. As a child the most recorded and watched films on TV for me were all musicals. “The Wizard of Oz” “Mary Poppins” and “Greece” were my favourite; even today I could sing along to all the songs and completely follow the spoken dialogue. I even remember spending hours perfecting the exact skip Dorothy does down the yellow brick road! Then there was “Annie”, “Dirty Dancing”, “Fame” and “Flashdance”, the list goes on. The more I think about it the more I realise I was brought up on musicals.
But what is it about musicals that make them so popular even today? I think it’s simply because they use song and dance to enhance a story. But I think it takes a special kind of director and choreographer to make a musical work. Having seen lots of productions of the same musical it seems the success is really down to how well it is produced. A couple of years ago I took my mother to see “We will Rock you” and it was just amazing. It really gives you the feel good factor.
I can’t wait for the next big musical to hit the stage. I have always wanted to burst into song and dance whist doing my weekly shop at Tesco’s! Perhaps I need to arrange this, get a group of friends, prepare a dance and have some music ready. I bet it would make all the shoppers stop and watch and give them the feel good factor that all the best musicals give you.