I adore musicals. Sondheim is my favourite, but I also love many MGM classics, and in my opinion the Rice-Webber collaboration produced some of the best show tunes in history. They’re more than just a distraction for me. Going to watch a musical stage show lifts my spirits, giving me a boost that lasts for days.
Even so, I recognise that there are many, many people who can’t stand musical theatre. People who find it silly, nonsensical and boring. And that’s OK, it really is.
If musicals aren’t your cup of tea, I won’t try to persuade you to see one. I won’t turn them up loud if you come over for dinner, nor will I attempt to engage you in conversation about them when I know you’re not interested. If you insist on telling me how stupid you find them, I’ll hear you out, politely. I won’t get angry, or defensive, or imply that you’re weird for not liking them. Because it’s just a matter of taste, right?
Imagine though, a world where people like me were in the vast majority. Where Punt Road was clogged every weekend, because of the stream of fans crowding into theatres in town. Where theatrical chatter and gossip dominated talkback radio. Where the vocal chord polyps of musical stars were deemed front-page news, and opinion pages were filled with debate about the best way forward in ridding the early musicals of their racist and sexist overtones. Where men in pubs obsessed about whether Hamilton would ever come to Melbourne.
In this world, school-aged children would be marched off to participate in “AusSing” each weekend, whether they liked it or not. Kids would be expected to have a favourite musical that they could relentlessly champion at school, lest they be left out at lunchtime, when show tunes are sung across the schoolyard. And we’d all get a public holiday to celebrate the opening of the latest big show imported from Broadway!