Tuesday, 26 February 2013


I went to see the film Les Miserables on Sunday For some reason I can't quite get to the bottom of, I've scorned the show in the past, on the basis of very little knowledge. I think I probably scorn most modern musicals (I use "modern" in a relative sense) whilst adoring the output of Rodgers and Hammerstein/Lerner and Loewe/Kander and Ebb. So - what do I scorn? Definitely the Andrew Lloyd Webber oeuvre. Oh - except for Jesus Christ Superstar which I saw on stage in the 70s at a very impressionable age, fresh from the convent. Dear heavens, my socks were quite knocked off. And I quite liked Evita. I saw that with David Essex as Che... Sorry, lost concentration there for a minute.

OK - I'm back. Did you see That'll Be The Day and Stardust? I suspect they were dreadful films and I would be appalled today at the sexism, for one thing, but the soundtracks - oh the soundtracks! I still have the double albums. Dear old Ronco...

Where was I? Oh yes, musicals. I'm still trying to pin down what makes a good one for me. Cracking songs, obviously (and this does not mean taking one tune and fiddling about with it for the rest of the show - you know who I'm talking to) but also a tightness about the structure, a progression in the songs, a sense of being in the hands of experts - one can rely on the next song being the right one for the job. And I like a crisp delineation between speaking and singing. I'm tremendously fond of Gilbert and Sullivan and always have been. As a child I used to go and see a local G&S society perform (and later joined them, but that's another story) and my memory of my experience goes something like:

blah blah blah SONG!!!! blah blah blah blah SONG!!!! blah blah blah SONG!!!! etc...

When I was older I appreciated the dialogue more, but as a child I just wanted those people on the stage to get on and SING!!!

And Les Mis? Well, it wasn't tight, there was no crisp dialogue/song delineation, I didn't feel entirely in the hands of experts and I'm not sure about the song progression, but by golly I enjoyed it! Tremendously stirring stuff. To the barricades, citizens!* 

*sorry about the clip, but all of the current film ones are very poor and this was the least unbearable.

Thanks for popping in - do visit the comments salon before you you leave. Do you like the tricolours? Knitting allowed - just ask Mme Desfarge if you get stuck.

PS I've realised that I've overlooked the masterly Stephen Sondheim, whom I would categorise as "modern" but certainly not scorn. Sigh.