It should come as no surprise that I am a romantic. Not the flowers and chocolates kind so much as the wrenching, fall into your lover’s arms kind. Make that the throw yourself, head-first, stupidly and ridiculously into their arms kind (even when they are not there to catch you). And it would seem that I have always been more aligned to Young Werther than to Hallmark’s Valentine; as I noted in an earlier post My Barbies Never Got Married, even as a little girl, when I played with love I recognised that it was neither patient nor kind, the way certain books suggested.
As I described in that piece, while my barbies re-enacted every dramatic musical moment from Cabaret to The Sound of Music, I came to consider love in my own, very lyrical terms. It was the crescendo that shook you from your skin, or the potent ache of a torch song that settled in your bones. My understanding of love was set to music, and to the songs of musical theatre in particular.
I am still as drawn to the stories of musical theatre as I was back in my barbies’ hey day. The difference now is that I live in one of the great theatre cities of the world. And I get to write about it. After starting this blog I obtained a position writing for an international theatre website, and I have since been dividing my creative time between my blog/novel and writing about the world of musical theatre. The two are in no small way connected – a Sondheim fan in particular will see how often I have borrowed from this poet of the musical theatre world to describe a moment or experience in Maggie Valentine’s life. And more than that, spending a few hours in a theatre each week watching people do what they love for a living is a potent reminder of why I need to keep working at what I love.
Last week I got to attend the opening night of Opera Australia’s acclaimed production of SOUTH PACIFIC and I was so moved by the show that I wanted to share my review here. I have seen theatre all over the world, but this particular production, starring opera singer Teddy Tahu Rhodes and his (rumoured) paramour Lisa McCune took me back to my childhood, to when love and music were so entwined that I could not separate the two. In that darkened theatre, I remembered why I hear love and feel music. This is how it was when it was all brand new. This is how I learnt it.
And even now, with all the cracks and scratches in the record, I can still hear the high, sweet strings of my own romance. I can still hear love in the rise and fall of each note. Music and memory have always engaged in a dance. And for me, it is still a fine romance.
Here is an excerpt from my
love letter to review of Opera Australia’s SOUTH PACIFIC …
“…While Some Enchanted Evening is the beloved jewel of SOUTH PACIFIC, it is Rhodes’ exquisite This Nearly Was Mine that elicits the loudest cheers on Melbourne’s opening night. In this lament to the ephemeral nature of love and joy Rhodes reveals the heart and soul of both the man, and in some ways the musical itself – the idea of what people have, and what they must lose when paradise is altered. For pathos it is matched only by McCune’s heart-wrenching second act reprise of Some Enchanted Evening where Nellie comes to the painful understand of how losing love can sit right up against the joy of finding it.”
The full review can be read here at BroadwayWorld; we all need our little reminders, now and then …
Image Credits: Jeff Busby