I hate musicals, ever since I was a little boy and my parents took me to see the Sound of Music performed in the local park I’ve disliked them. For some reason the fact they sing then talk then sing some more has always bothered me. Pick one and stick with it. Either sing the whole time or talk the whole time.
My wife, on the other hand, loves musicals. She happily walks around the house singing songs from various Broadway shows. Plus when her friends get together they usually stand around a piano and sing various songs from musicals. I wish I was kidding here, but I speak the truth.
The Ordway Theater in beautiful St. Paul Minnesota is currently running a production of Chicago. When I found out we had tickets to opening night, I must admit my wife was a little more excited than I. She kept telling me that seeing a production live is the only way to truly appreciate it. I kept thinking back to my Sound of Music experience where my Dad had to trick me into paying attention during the second act by telling me the Nazis in the play were going to fire machine guns at some point.
When opening night arrived, my wife dressed in our Tuesday night finery and headed down to the Ordway. We sat patiently in our seats waiting for the curtain to rise. I have grown accustomed to on demand entertainment and instant access to what I want, so having to wait for the show to start was in and of itself an unfamiliar experience for me.
The curtain was raised, the lights where lit and I was shocked. It would be easy to assume that I was shocked because most of the actors where fairly scantily clad and the play was full of innuendo and tawdry behavior. However, it is nothing worse than what is seen on television on a typical Wednesday night in primetime.
No this wasn’t the reason I was shocked. I was shocked because I actually found myself enjoying the production. I was no longer bothered by the singing and then talking and then back to signing. The singing and the dancing had me fully engrossed. I found the production to be top shelf.
This performance helped me to realize why it is we need live theater. Live theater isn’t a relic of the past to be replaced by on demand television and perfectly produced feature films. No the theater is something to be supported and cherished. The theater isn’t a lost art, but rather one that awaits to be discovered by a whole generation of theater patrons.
I went into this production not expecting much, but discovered a whole new wold. This production of Chicago helped to fundamentally shift my view of the musical. I guess you could now say that I now like musicals……and all that jazz.