My tolerance for musicals is perhaps higher than that of the average man. I’ve loved Oliver! since I was young, and I’ve been caught singing along with numbers from Hello, Dolly!, The Sound of Music and Mary Poppins.
(While I’m at it, I read Dear Abby every day, and I have almost all of ABBA’s albums.)
Still, I was hesitant to take my fiancée to Les Miserables in Regina last week. I offered to take her after we missed it in Moose Jaw. I was mildly interested, but the running time (158 minutes) and bad reviews of Russell Crowe’s singing voice made me wary.
But we both enjoyed it, from Anne Hathaway’s heartfelt performance of I Dreamed A Dream to the sleazy innkeepers, showcased so memorably in Master of the House. Crowe’s voice was acceptable, and I always enjoy a redemptive story.
Musical theatre has a style all its own, totally removed from real life. But I’ve sometimes wondered what it would be like if life was a musical — if we carried out conversations in song, occasionally ran off to issue a spontaneous musical lament, or frequently dropped what we were doing to join a giant choreographed crowd, dancing through the streets.
In my own life, I imagine, it would go something like this:
(Curtain up: The LEAD CHARACTER arrives in the NEWSROOM, a bustling hive of activity. All around him, reporters answer phones, type up copy and hand in finished stories. The EDITOR rises to address her staff.)
EDITOR: There’s a fire on South Hill, we need reporters on the scene/Tonight our city councillors are planning to convene/Find room for the bridge scores or the seniors will turn mean/Someone clean the fridge, for its contents have turned green!
(The phone rings, and the LEAD CHARACTER rushes to answer it. It’s the MECHANIC, calling to inform him of troubles with his vehicle.)
MECHANIC: The oil change was successful, you’ll be glad to know/But there’s lots of rust and fluids leaking to and fro/Your wipers just fell off, your engine’s going to blow/I’ll call back when we’ve calculated what you owe!
(The LEAD CHARACTER thanks the MECHANIC and hangs up, only to have the phone ring again. This time it’s his FIANCÉE calling.)
FIANCÉE: Good day my darling, hope you’re doing well/I’m planning for the wedding and there’s lots to tell/Your jacket’s got a stain upon its left lapel/And now I think our caterer is threatening to rebel!
(After hanging up the phone, the LEAD CHARACTER turns to address the audience himself.)
LEAD CHARACTER: My life is busy and at times bizarre/I realize that’s just the way things are/I could just quit and look on from afar/Perhaps they can use writers out in Zanzibar?
(The EDITOR calls the LEAD CHARACTER over to her desk. She has good news to share.)
EDITOR: Good job reporting on that backhoe mishap/The Leader-Post ran it to fill a gap/That ought to be a feather in your cap/The day is finished, wasn’t that a snap?
(The LEAD CHARACTER is overjoyed. He races to the HOME of his FIANCÉE to share the good news. She is pleased for him.)
FIANCÉE: Well done there, honey, and I’m glad for you/Sit down and relax from all the work you do/I’ve made a pork roast with potatoes, too/Time to unwind now that your day is through!
(They are joined by a CAST of THOUSANDS, all singing and dancing their way over to the roundabout on Saskatchewan Street, trying not to trip over the massive ruts in the road. Curtain down.)
Joel van der Veen can be reached at 691-1256.