I love musicals. My collection of DVDs includes a whole shelf of musicals and old monster movies (I’ll have more to say about the monster movies in a future post). I’m embarrassed to admit that I have several DVDs that I’ve only played once. This isn’t the case with my musicals. I watch them over and over.
At times it is fashionable to proclaim that the musical is dead. We are told that musicals are simply a flight from the very harsh realities of life. In real life, people don’t break out into song. Films should tell the truth rather than provide escapist fare.
I recall a Candid Camera episode that took up this theme. The crew set up a coffee shop with singers, dancers and hidden cameras. When an unsuspecting customer placed an order the whole place burst into a song and dance number. The scene gave rise to laughter because normal people don’t really know what to do in a musical. It was very funny. I noticed something else, however. The customers rather enjoyed the experience. In real life we don’t burst into song and dance. Maybe we should!
In high school I was in several school musicals. I was Baby John from West Side Story, an understudy in Oklahoma and The King and I, as well as the mayor of Munchkin city in the county of the Land of Oz. When I watch these musicals I’m flooded with wonderful memories. My passion for musicals, however, isn’t simply nostalgic. Musicals, even some of the silly ones, express what is for me a profound truth. I live in a world full of song. I hear music all around me. When I sing, I join a chorus. Many will say I’m delusional. Perhaps I am. Then again perhaps I hear something they don’t or can’t.
Roger, a friend and brother in the Lord, died last week. Like me, Roger loved musicals. He loved to sing. He would often walk into a room singing or break out into a song suggested by our conversation. Even while approaching death he sang. A few weeks ago at the hospital he sang The Sound of Music with so much joy that a nurse joined in.
Roger, you gave much to me and to everyone that knew you. We will miss you. Your life was full of grace. Concerning music, you were right. The hills really are alive with the sound of music.