Saturday, September 07, 2013

[title of post]

Five years ago I visited New York City with my parents. An opening line that perhaps suggests a horror travelogue; but my parents are lovely people, I get on well with them, and we had a fabulous time. So sorry reductionists, there is no conflict and therefore no dramatic interest in this tale. THERE IS ONLY GETTING SQUIRTED RIGHT IN THE FACE WITH PURE AWESOME SAUCE.

Since I've lived in London, I have become a fan of musical theatre, so I while stateside I insisted we must try to see a Broadway show. Unlike Britain's swinging capital, where I can sniff out a West End ticket deal like a gay bloodhound, I had no idea what to do, so we went to the TKTS booth in Times Square. Nothing we'd heard of was available, agreeable or affordable. Somebody* handed us a flyer for something called [title of show] - yes, one includes the square brackets. I don't quite remember what it was that convinced me we should try it. It may be have simply been that we had no other options. In any case, upper or lower, we handed over the credit card. At the appointed time we rocked up to the Lyceum Theatre and sat in the very back row of the stalls.

I'd like to say I fell in love instantly. I didn't. Firstly, there wasn't the huge spectacle I'd hoped for to impress the olds - nothing exploded, flew out over the audience or flew out over the audience and exploded. Secondly, I was quite fearful the delightful and amusing but clearly homosexual chaps on stage may be a bit too much for my conservative parental units. I'm too young to remember the song and dance shows they did with the church in their youth, but I'm pretty sure they didn't feature masturbation.

I needn't have worried too much - Dad swooned at the first harmonies. At the beginning of the second song, a wonderfully gentle smashing of the fourth wall arrived and he laughed like Daryl Kerrigan seeing the Best of Hey Hey It's Saturday. We were on to a winner. Later, in a typically meta-moment, Hunter echoes my fears by worrying that his Mum may be shocked at the mention of masturbation in the show. Jeff's response is not helpful.

The rest of the show unfolded joyously. So, um, what is this? I'll never make a reviewer. Synopses are supposed to come first. Here goes. [title of show] is a musical about two guys writing a musical about two guys writing a musical. It's a very cleverly constructed, and for a novice there was a wonderful slow realisation that, hey, these two guys I'm watching are actually the two guys who wrote this meta-madness. I'm kinda delighted I got to experience it this way. Take away the artifice and you've got some nerds living their dreams. Their sheer delight at doing so was apparent and infectious. The songs are wonderful and funny. Even when they threaten to descend into mawkish American sentiment a wry line usually pulls it back just in time. By the time they really do unleash the cheesy yankee Follow Your Dreams messages you're with them and it's not too spew-inducing - it's actually...well...just really nice. We went away happy and felt we'd witnessed something special.


So I bought my Playbill, came home, scoured YouTube for songs, got the cast album...and then it all faded into history. Occasionally, I bored people with the story of this great little show I saw in New York. I kept up a little bit on the internet, but clearly not enough as the entire cast managed to reunite, create another show, and raise money on Kickstarter for a cast album without me noticing. There were a few rumours and announcements that the original cast would come to London to do the show on the West End...but then nothing.

Then BAM BAM not one but two productions emerge in blighty at the same time. Patch of Blue Theatre announced a production at the Fringe. The Landor Theatre announced a production in some hitherto undiscovered part of Clapham. I had the opportunity to see both. #FIRSTWORLDVICTORIES

But it would it be the same without the original cast? Part of the meta-fun with the original show is that you're watching THE ACTUAL FOLKS WOT MADE IT. Would it still work without that delight?

Once again my fears were unfounded. Both productions were wonderfully done and fantastic fun. The Landor Theatre production in particular really showcased the narrative and my long suffering partner finally understood what on earth was happening between those catchy nonsense songs on the album. Though we must confess that we both still don't know who Mary Stout is, or why she got hit with a hotdog cart, or why this matters. But I kinda like that.

This show joins the Menier Chocolate Factory's revival of A Little Night Music as my equal favourite show of my decade in London**. It's just bloody lovely. Yes, I've become a total tragic about it, but you should still listen to me because I'm brilliant.

It's on for a week more. Go see it or I will kill again.

*Somebody, I love you, even more than Freddie Mercury would.
**Haven't seen Book of Mormon yet because I am a cheapskate. I know I will love it, stop telling me.