LUV - I am not one of Those Girls. I will not make you watch Dirty Dancing with me and cry into my popcorn because of Patrick Swayze’s cheekbones and tragic death. I won’t get a cat, then put hats on the cat, then put photos of the cat in hats on the internet. Probably. I managed to graduate from my teens without learning a single hand movement to that ‘We go together like wanky-bo-banky-bong twatty-do-wop-de-doop’ song from Grease, and if you’ve ever dressed up as a character from the Rocky Horror Picture Show I’m afraid that we can never, ever be friends.
But I do quite like musicals.
Don’t get me wrong, I’ve rolled my eyes at Moulin Rouge, harrumphed my way through Chicago and actually said the words “Shane Meadows would never make a film like this” which is perhaps more objectionable than any of the attributes I listed in the first paragraph. In my defence, though, watching Moulin Rouge is like having a full-blown migraine in a Tilt-A-Whirl full of dickheads, and Chicago is just a bunch of glammed-up Robert Palmer video women prowling around snarling about how dangerous and feline they are. But I digress. Musicals have actually grown on me, for three main reasons:
1. I worked backstage at a theatre
And the first production I ever worked on was Stephen Sondheim’s Into the Woods, and it’s either that Into the Woods is witty and clever with some memorable songs, or that the act of helping a woman dressed as a witch out of her bra every night for two weeks while mooing into a microphone left me with severe disabling musical Stockholm syndrome.
2. Musicals have saved my Bank Holidays
I mean, what else are you supposed to do on a rainy Monday afternoon with your other half’s family once Ben-Hur has finished? Have a conversation? About babies? Account for the exact percentile of your Jewish heritage to a borderline racist octogenarian grandparent of indistinguishable gender? Or watch The Wizard of Oz? Yeah.
3. We all love musicals whether we know it or not
We’ve all grown up knowing and loving classic musicals. Even you people with your flinty old hearts must well up when Oliver Twist sings ‘Where is Love’ or when the old lady in Mary Poppins implores the children to ‘feed the bards, tuppence a byag’.
And what would our childhood favourites be without all the singing and jazz shoes? The Sound of Music would be a bleak tale of a woman of the cloth losing her faith, shacking up with a disciplinarian and fleeing the Nazis with a cult of Aryan children - two of whom sit in a gazebo just saying their ages at each other - over the mountains to Mordor. Mary Poppins would be a stark expose into the mind of a delusional, Louise Woodward-style au pair. Annie would probably be about paedophilia. Well, more about paedophilia.
Shane Meadows might make that film.
To sum up, I love musicals. And, while I’m never going to say that real life should be more like the musicals (I was at a bus stop the other day when a girl started singing, and it was horrifically awkward. No one joined in; no one knew where to look. Eventually she just sort of petered out and stared at her shoe), I am now off to watch Burlesque in my pyjamas with a hangover and you are not to judge me.
- Robyn WIlder
HAT - What is love? Poets struggle to describe it. Philosophers struggle to understand it. Scientists struggle to explain it. Even Haddaway - perhaps the most profound mind of the modern age - struggled when he asked himself ‘What is love?’, only managing to come up with “Baby don’t hurt me no more” and the slightly less helpful “Woah woah woah, oooh oooh”.
But I know what love is. Love is sitting on a sofa with your girlfriend on a Saturday afternoon and not angrily farting blood all over the place when she asks if you fancy watching a musical. That’s what love is. You’re welcome, humanity.
As we all know, musicals were invented by the devil as a way to send normal men into bloodthirsty spirals of blind rage punctuated with cries of “WHY IS THEY ALL SINGING EVERYTHING?” and “SHE’S IN HER THIRTIES! WHY IS SHE STILL AT HIGH SCHOOL? HAS SHE GOT A BRAIN CONDITION?”
I’m primarily referencing Grease here, but it’s true of all musicals. I just mentioned Grease because it’s terrible and there’s a fucking flying car in it. In truth, all musicals make me want to vomit spinal fluid into a nun’s face. I hate them. I hate them for wasting my time.
When you tell a story, your characters need need motivation. A good storyteller will imply this motivation. A bad storyteller will explicitly tell us this motivation. And a really fucking shitty storyteller will shove the character to the front and make him spend three minutes singing a song about why his parents never loved him to the tune of My Old Man’s A Cunting Dustman.
The cumulative effect of this is that, once the characters have all barged to the front to belt out a witless ditty about their motivation - or how they’ve fallen in love, or how they might be getting a bit hungry - a vast portion of your life has been frittered away. But it needn’t be like this.
For example, the Can You Feel The Love Tonight segment of The Lion King could be over in about five seconds if it simply cut to a shot of Simba fingering a girl lion by the bins. The I’ve Got A Golden Ticket part of Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory could be Charlie Bucket getting his golden ticket and then just fucking shutting up about it. And everyone would be happier if, rather than wailing out I Dreamed A Dream for a full calendar month, Fantine from Les Miserables just dropped dead on the spot, preferably of a disease that obliterated her face and windpipe at the same time.
But the worst thing about musicals is the fact that all girls love them. And that means that the rest of us are screwed. If you’ve got a girlfriend, you’re basically doomed to spend colossal chunks of your life watching John Travolta pretending to get electrified at a fairground again and again. Actually, I’ve made musicals sound quite good, haven’t I? Drat.
- Stuart Heritage
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