Updated: Mar 27
For World Theatre Day, a celebration of all things theatrical, guest blogger Lily Casson, creator of I Heart Musicals, describes her lifelong love affair with musicals and why she hearts them.
For me, musicals are what books are often described as being for other people. An escape. A way to explore other people, places, times, and events. A distraction from the humdrum of daily life.
Everything about musicals excites me. From the first drum roll of the overture, you are transported to a world of bright lights, beautiful costumes, emotional stories, and soaring scores. The moment the curtain goes up, nothing else seems to matter. It's like time travel. As well as being invited to turn your phones off maybe the announcement should continue, "Please take your seat to lose your sense of time and place for the next 2 - 3 hours as the cast and crew take you on a journey you'll never forget."
My favourite way to spend a Saturday is to journey into London's West End and wander amongst the shiny billboards and posters of Theatreland. With a little money in my pocket, I might pop into different box offices to ask the availability for that afternoon's matinee.
Passing Leicester Square, I might visit the TKTS booth for the latest ticket news. Eavesdrop on the conversations in the queue to find out which shows audiences were queueing for. And then, the excitement of discovering there are tickets for your chosen show at a price you can afford and holding them in your hot hand. Walking in through the theatre doors early so you can take in the pre-show murmur of the audience as they arrive expectantly for an afternoon of entertainment. Finally, settling yourself into a plush velvet seat, as the lights dim and the curtain raises for the start of the show.
Nothing beats this feeling, and all my life I have been captivated by it. It's like the best drug in the world. The buzz of emerging into the clear light of day like a butterfly emerging a warm cocoon of the theatre is unlike any other experience.
There's no business like show business, like no business I know
Annie Get Your Gun (Irving Berlin)
I came to this early as growing up in a theatrical family, I was lucky enough to experience shows from both sides of the curtain from a young age. Surrounded by creative people, I was fascinated by how magic was created onstage – from the initial ideas and script to the nuts and bolts of rehearsal right up to how the work comes to life in front of an audience. Later, I was thrilled to be part of this process, giving me a heightened awareness of what goes into making musicals magical and sparked this interest in the history behind what you see on stage. There is serious intent at the heart of the razzle dazzle and delving deeper into how a show came about is as compelling to me as the show itself.
Another opening, another show
Kiss Me Kate (Cole Porter)
As well as shows I have been in, I have had show romances with other musicals. My first real "affair" was with Lionel Bart's Oliver! when it was running at Theatre Royal Drury Lane in 2010. I would divert my wanderings just to pass the theatre where “the feeling” had taken place, listen to the cast recording on repeat, and reimagine the scenes in my head. There have been other shows since then that have captured my heart – both new and old alike. Now I want to share my passion with you!
I Heart Musicals both onstage and online is an opportunity to shine a spotlight on my favourite shows, tell you a little about the stories behind their creation, to sing some of the songs I've come to love, and hopefully inspire you to go away and listen to the cast recordings yourself!