Why all musicals should include nuns…

…well, why not?

The Sound of Music has long been an example of this, but now the new Sister Act can well & truly join the ranks of a classic nun musical.
An inspired gift choice from my sister was the brand new (i.e. less than a week old) stage soundtrack which has rarely been off my ipod ever since. There’s just something about the combination of classic film plot, nuns, Bible & church references, gospel/disco music that makes it utterly irresistable.
Add to the mix a classic composer of the Disney school (Alan Menken – Beauty & the Beast, Little Mermaid, Aladdin et al), and it really doesn’t matter that the film’s Motown soundtrack couldn’t be used.
I’ve not yet met anyone who’s seen the show and not liked it (and I’m not just talking about those who usually show a penchant for ‘musical theatre tat’), but there seems to be an added enjoyment for those with a church connection – especially a Catholic one. It’s all in the small details, like songs with the following lines in them:

“Shake it like you’re Mary Magdalene.”
“Fill th church, pass the plate! Everybody transusbstantiate.”
“Picture you and me one sweet, sweet night in a pool of votive candlelight.”
Wondeful.
And because my sister gave me another inspired musical gift – the classic Starlight Express – I’ve been able to spend the weekend doing a bit of comparing and contrasting of musical theatre styles…
Is it just me, or do other people sometimes conduct bits of their lives as if it were an academic exercise? Most often these thoughts occur when I’m listening to music and I’m all of a sudden back in GCSE aural mode (though not usually complete with a man narrating proceedings with an ultra annoying Birmingham accent – just the way he said ‘Midland Examining Group’ was enough to draw a groan from my class). It’s all to do with listening to patterns, falling in love with particular techniques/moments and identifying similarities with other works/composers.
I’ve decided to spare you my thesis on the topic. Suffice to say that Starlight Express – the first musical on rollerskates (only musical on rollerskates??) hasn’t aged brilliantly. Some great songs, but let down by random songs about trains. Maybe it’s one of the ones you need to watch to understand? Sister Act will probably last, it’s got that timeless Disney quality about it.
Plus, I still maintain that if you throw a couple of nuns into a show, you’ve got an automatic hit.
[As an aside, should you fear that my sister’s gifts have exacerbated my appalling taste in music, her presents also included the Daniel Merriweather album which I highly recommend. She was using the age-old tactic of using a decent music purchase to cancel out a suspect one – it helps balance the world’s equilibrium.]

A virtual musical?

Exciting news in today’s Guardian – apparantly there are plans afoot to extend Lord Lloyd-Webber’s empire into the world of computer games!

The article in question appeared to deride the idea, but honestly, I can’t think of anything better. So it got me wondering exactly what form such a game might take…

Scenario 1:
Your standard Singit/Guitar Hero/Rockband format. Sing along to the songs of the Lord, graded for rhythm, tune and words. Would be fun, but essentially musical theatre karaoke.

Scenario 2:
Take a Lloyd-Webber show and jump various hurdles to create a West End standard production. Choose a cast, creative team, backers, producers and overcome the challenges of a credit-crunch impacted Theatreland.

Scenario 3:
The I’d Do Anything/Any Dream Will Do/How Do You Solve a Problem Like Maria? format. You are a contestant battling to win the lead in a new production of a hit musical. Each level requires new skills, from proving you can dance and enchant small children, hit a top C or turn John Barrowman straight (not to mention the ability to sing, dance and rollerskate simultaneously).

Which one do you reckon they’ll go for? Personally, the third’s my favourite. That’s probably just because I have unreasonable aspirations of one day actually entering that kind of show!

Of course, the only downside would be that the Lord didn’t write Wicked – and that’s one show I’d love to recreate in a virtual world, but I guess Starlight Express could be just as good!

And this is why I’m a loser at heart

I’m disappointed with my last post and have calmed down a tad since my stressful journey home. Now that I’ve eaten and chilled out a bit in my rather empty flat, (I’m minus a flatmate again, but that’s a story for another occasion – needless to say the word of the month is “trust”), I’m a lot happier.

As so often happens when I’m home alone, I’ve been doing some tuneful/less singing to myself and opened my itunes to hear a track that’s been one of my favourites since celebrating the Lord’s birthday in September. I’m almost ashamed to share the title of this track, which now resides at #1 on my most played list…you won’t have heard of it…ok…it’s: “I Believe my Heart”.

It’s a lesser known Lloyd-Webber track – from The Woman in White – which has been performed by Duncan James, hence my slight embarassment. But I do adore it. It’s probably just because it taps into the hopelessly romantic bit of my personality.

Anyway, I also felt a need for a new playlist so thought I’d let the genius tool work its magic and now have a wonderfully cheesy selection to listen to on the tube tomorrow. God bless genius!

Just felt a need to share some of the (50) gems it’s provided for me:

A Different Beat – Boyzone [Worryingly, my best performances at the gym lately have resulted from listening to the Boyz.]

Especially for You – Kylie & Jason [Incidentally, this song did wonders for my spelling when I was 8. “Especially” is a tricky word when you’re trying to write out the lyrics to your favourite song!]

Angel of Mine – Eternal [Have quite a story about this, but it’ll make me look even more of a loser than this post already does!]

Beyond the Sea – Will Young [Have I mentioned before just how much I love Will Young? Gosh, my loser rating is rocketing sky-high now…]

Jump (For my Love) – Girls Aloud [Note to self: must watch Love Actually again before Christmas]

Love in the First Degree – Bananarama [Gutted I’m missing the 80s night at church this weekend as I discovered last night some friends are doing a Bananarama tribute!]

Oh, I could sooooo go on. Suffice to say, I’m going to be grinning & giggling to myself a lot tomorrow. Actually, not tomorrow, today. And as it’s after midnight this can count as Nov 19th’s post! Whoop.

Celebrating the Lord

[Note: This is not in anyway a faith-related post.]

The Lord’s 60.

Yes, it really has been 10 years since the spectacular that was Andrew Lloyd Webber’s 50th birthday celebration in the Royal Albert Hall. (If you’ve not seen it, it’s on DVD, watch it, it’s wonderful!) So it was about time for another one…

Luckily the BBC thought so too and considerately used their staging from Saturday’s Last Night of the Proms to host a birthday concert for the Lord. Except it turns out he was actually 60 6 months ago. Nevermind.

The evening turned out to be: dry, entertaining and educational…

For example, did you know that Love Changes Everything (the hit song from Aspects of Love) was originally written for Starlight Express but not used, put away in a drawer and brought out again for the later musical?? Nope, neither did I.

Incidentally, it’s broadcast on Radio 2 at 7.30pm on Friday, 10th October. I highly recommend listening, then you too can catch:
– Lee Mead coming in too early at the start of All I Ask of You
– John Barrowman generally being hilarious
– Joss Stone emulating a crazy evangelical preacher during Jesus Christ Superstar (“can I get a witness?!”)
– Duncan James being surprisingly good & Jason Donovan being surprisingly bad

I’ll be listening, especially I managed to miss most of my most anticipated item by mis-timing a trip to the toilets. Turns out the overture for The Beautiful Game isn’t as long as I thought and I was still in the toilets when I heard “and now, Idina Menzel singing Unexpected Song…”. That would be my favourite Broadway Diva singing my favourite ALW song – I ran like the wind!!

And if all that wasn’t enough, the evening was doubly exciting because my friend Gill (and her Mum) were in one of the supporting choirs – here we have Gill looking a little, well, moody, whilst on stage with Ruthie Henshall (another West End Diva):