Friday Fun with a song and a dance (or two…)

The last fortnight has been all about the televisual delight that is BBC 4’s three-part series entitled The Story of Musicals. Who wouldn’t want to devote three hours of their life to the story of how the British musical overcame the might American Broadway in the 1960s; went on to dominate it in the 1980’s; and how it got its come-uppance in the late 1990s? Honestly, I’ve watched each part twice and its prompted some fantastic musical archive digging – Cats, Joseph, Starlight Express…it’s been a joy.

This week’s Friday Fun is therefore musically inspired. For a start, dig out some classic tunes on Spotify (or similar – Spotify is out of favour in my world currently, but it is useful on occasion), then, if it’s your thing, check out what follows.

Firstly, do you know who was a star of episode 3? John Barrowman. The man so camply wonderful that really he only needs to be referred to as “Barrowman!” (for a brilliant example of this, watch this clip of David Tenant on Never Mind the Buzzcocks). Even if you’re not a fan, this video ought to bring at least a wry smile to your face:

Secondly, you know who was a surprise feature of musical London’s history? Cliff Richard. I know I shouldn’t be that surprised, but I’d honestly had no idea he’d starred in a chronically awful production in the mid-80s (it featured a 10ft hologram of Laurence Olivier) and I’d obviously blocked all memories of Heathcliff the musical from my mind. He’s not someone who has amused me much in the past, but that changed with the discovery of the tumblr: Cliff Richard is dying inside. The concept is a simple one. Take a shot of Cliff (there are many, he’s done calendars for decades) and consider the real emotion lying behind his eyes.

For example, the most recent one is this:

Fabulous. Obviously, I couldn’t mention musicals without somehow happening upon a Glee connection. Did you know that the utterly awesome Blaine Warbler (aka Darren Criss) is partly responsible for a Harry Potter musical? Given that this appeared on YouTube in 2009, I appreciate that I’m coming rather late to the party, but what could be better than a musical theatre, Harry Potter inspired parody, sung by a beautiful man? No, I agree with you, nothing.

Finally, a tenuous musical link… Last week was the annual London A Cappella Festival, at which the lovely Songmen were performing. I went along to provide sibling-in-law support and had a jolly good time. (Including hearing the most amusing rendition of a 16th century French madrigal ever.) The Songmen were followed by an intriguing collective from one of my alma maters. All the King’s Men are essentially King’s College London’s answer to the Warblers, only with far worse outfits. Morv and I could barely hold ourselves together during their performance of It’s Raining Men, but they are rather quality. I couldn’t find a video of that gem, so here’s an equally camp Spice Girls Medley:

May your weekend be full of singing, or dancing, or both!

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