Lily Casson is bringing her show, I Heart Musicals, to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe with English Cabaret this summer, which will coincide with the launch of a new website that will sharie her exploration of a century of song. Leading up to her show's premiere, we are offering a preview of some of her musical thoughts.
In this post, she explores why music matters most in musicals and how it can have the power to transform your daily life.
There is nothing so evocative for me as a cast recording of a musical I love. Wherever you are, whatever you're doing, you can conjure the whole technicolor world of a musical in your mind's eye, immersing yourself in the surround sound of the voices and orchestra.
Whether on a train, in a busy public space, or just on your own in your bedroom, the characters burst out like bottled genies from your headphones into your current landscape. Being joined by familiar stories that you know end well can be very comforting, particularly in times of chaos. The melodies take you away from the given moment and create space for a moment of delight, even on the most mundane days.
All I need is loving you and music, music, music
Music! Music! Music!
My musical antennae is always sensitive to snatches of songs or conversations that might lead me towards new shows to discover, whether they're currently playing or recordings of shows from the past.
One of my great pleasures is discovering a new show full of songs I have yet to get to know. It's just like a musical blind date as you press play and find yourself immersed in a world of new characters and tunes that get stuck in your head.
And if you've seen the show, you can relive it vicariously through the music of a cast recording, reimagining each scene in order. However, finding the recording that triggers those feelings is not straightforward, particularly with revivals. When I saw Trevor Nunn's Kiss Me Kate at the Old Vic 8 years ago, the treatment of the music was very different to older recordings such as the film, and since there was no recording of the cast I saw, I had to spend some time until I found one that came close to it. But I did in the end!
All I ever needed was the music and the mirror and the chance to dance for you
A Chorus Line
As a singer, whenever I've got hooked on a song from a specific show, I have wanted to be able to sing it myself. Just like a cast recording, this presents the challenge of tracking down the 'right' score or arrangement. You might find the same song - same title - same lyrics -and it could sound entirely different to what you heard on stage.
My goal is to find one that most closely sounds like what I've heard. But as shows have many different productions and creatives working on them, this can create different arrangements, all of them subtly different. So, I treat it like a treasure hunt to find 'the one.'
Music expresses that which cannot be said and on which it is impossible to be silent
So, whether live on stage, in cast recordings, or captured in sheet music, the songs composers and lyricists write are the heartbeat of a show. I look forward to shining a spotlight on some of my favourites from a century of song in I Heart Musicals - onstage and online.
This post was first published on lilycasson.com. Her new site IHeartMusicals.co.uk is in development and her live show is playing 11th, 13th, 20th, 25th and 27th August at C Venues at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.