Ignoring all the Ding Dong ding dong for a moment, I can’t help but think it’s nice to have a song from a musical at number two in the charts.
Could this herald a new era in popular music, where the youth stand around outside McDonalds krunking to a bit of Rogers and Hart? Will they drive round in cars with Surrey With a Fringe on Top blaring through the windows? Will we all gather in warehouses and get sweaty to the beats of Cole Porter? Maybe out of this peaceful protest, as well as all the intended political messages, we’ll all learn a new appreciation of musical theatre. Musicals could be the new… not musicals!
I know, I know what you’re going to say. You don’t like musicals. You hate they way they burst into song in public as though it’s normal, and you find it embarrassing when they do a stag leap in the middle of an otherwise aggressive fight scene, you feel no affinity with nuns. I get it. But so many before you felt the same, and they’ve all been converted. It just takes the right musicals, carefully applied, possibly with the aid of doughnuts or strong gin. Here, to start you off, are my three musicals for people who hate musicals - and in a few years, when you’re on your third coach trip to see Phantom wearing a signed Michael Ball t-shirt, you can write and thank me.
Cabaret is an excellent gateway musical. It’s dark and sexy, it has a proper plot, and all the singing takes place on a stage rather than in the middle of a meadow or something, so it doesn’t jar nearly as much for the musical phobe. Based on Christopher Isherwood’s Goodbye to Berlin, it also has literary connections to up the pub quiz ante. And Liza Minnelli, eons before the David Gest, neck-painting phase.
2. Bugsy Malone
He who is tired of Bugsy Malone is tired of life, and that is just fact. Aside from the music being iPod-worthy and the story hilarious, Bugsy is a treat because you can sit with IMDB.com on your lap spotting kids who later went on to be in The Bill. Then, as I always do, you can have fun imagining the meeting in which Alan Parker pitched the idea – “so it’s a gangster story… but they’re all children… and there’s this custard…”. Genius.
3. The Rocky Horror Show
Your prescribed antidote to the saccharine overload of Julie Andrews twirling on a mountain top (I’m sorry Julie, they just aren’t as discerning as you or I), The Rocky Horror Show is the musical that embraces the freaks and geeks and frizzy of hair and makes everyone else wish they were a freak or a geek too. It is the coolest musical you will find, even if you plan to spend half of it saying, “oh look, the man from the Crystal Maze.”
Plus, you used to do the Time Warp at discos in your youth, didn’t you? There you go, you already know one.