Growing up, I never considered myself to be a fanatic of any sort. I can’t remember a period of time where I was whole-heartedly immersed in a cause. Sport never really captured my attention, I never thought I’d “totally freak out” if I got to see a particular boyband perform live and despite being an avid movie watcher, I never found myself totally engrossed in a film to the point of deeming it an unforgettable or life-changing experience.
So, when tasked with the discussion point of a memorable audience moment, I struggled to decipher if I’d ever even had one. Had there ever been a moment in my life where my chatter-box mouth had been shut long enough to share an experience with others that could be considered noteworthy?
Following some consideration, and a brief reading of a particularly embarrassing 2014 journal to get the ball rolling – I had an “ahhh, but of course!” thought. I had in fact experienced one of those moments – more than once. The first time however, went like this:
In late 2014, after being ill for a good week before, I begrudgingly had to attend a school excursion to Sydney, where, at the Lyric Theatre, I watched the iconic “Wizard of Oz” come to life on stage as a musical.
Upon sitting on the red-velvet cushioned chairs and indulging in sweets with my fellow peers, I couldn’t help but feel a sense of anticipation creeping over me. The theatre lights dimmed, the “candy bar” neon sign switched off, the low thrum of the orchestra gradually built to a roaring beat and the first line of “welcome, welcome to Emerald City!” was uttered. I was hooked.
The live acting created this profound level of engagement that the movies I’d watched simply couldn’t parallel. I sat there in awe, feeling as though the audience – myself included – were actually apart of the realm that Oz existed in. Whether it was the detailed costumes, incredible stage designs or the immersive music that had everyone in tears, it was clear that the audience was all-consumed from the start.
I felt thrilled, overjoyed and delighted all together at once – an onslaught of emotions if you will. The moment that encapsulated this was when “Defying Gravity” was performed. Having never even watched the movie, I was shocked to say the very least. For those of you who may not know what I’m even talking about, here’s a brief taster:
As the show came to an end, I started to come to the realisation that I may never again get to experience something so monumental. Shortly thereafter, I decided that perhaps that was the beauty of musical theatre – it can never just be “re-watched”. A movie can be seen over and over and it will forever remain the same. Whereas a musical will always be unique in one way or another – and that is what made the experience so special.
Thus began my love-affair with musical theatre. I’ve seen many since: Legally Blonde, Dirty Dancing, Grease, Matilda and Mamma Mia to name a few.
Each new show is a chance to congregate with friends and family as a part of a greater audience in one place, at the same time, sharing an incredible experience together. Every new musical I see, I know without a doubt that a teary and somewhat overwhelming moment similar to the one had in the “Wizard of Oz” will occur but it doesn’t make me sad. Rather, it gives me a little bit of hope, that maybe the classical notion of an audience will never die, that maybe it will continue to thrive as it does in musical theatre.
Until next week,