So last week, I watched a musical after ages, Les Miserables. Though I haven't watched other versions of this French classic, I can confidently say that music woven into this epic has brought out its charm like nothing else could. Opening with the powerful strains of 'Look down...', and soon I was captivated by the charismatic Jean Valjean, imprisoned by the cruel law, benevolent mayor, loving foster father; hotly pursued by Javert, the unbending worshipper of the law. Also played just as immaculately were the characters of Fantine, self sacrificing mother; her daughter Cosette (though she was a little too coy for my taste when she grew up); starry eyed Marius and the brave young leaders of the revolution, bearing flags soiled with their own blood; the deceitful yet comical innkeeper and his wife. All kinds of emotions in one, they could only be expressed through song; truly I thought, this story could only ever be a musical.
Musicals have always delighted me, they have this outlined innocence contained in the song and dance, and always, outbursts of laughter or tears are in order. I am no movie critic, but there are some that I have thoroughly enjoyed over and over again, let me run you through them (I insist).
'The Sound of Music', for its joyous, poignant tunes. I grew up singing 'Favorite things' whenever I was down, dancing to 'High on a hill was a lonely goatherd...' in frocks and pink cheeks. The proper little nurses reprimanding and praising Maria, made me shriek. 'Do-Re-Mi' was where i learnt my notes, we sang 'Cuck-coo' in school lunch breaks, rehearsed the dance all excitedly.
'Mary Poppins', another pretty musical. I was fascinated by the chimney sweeps dancing across the London skyline, Mary Poppins' pink cheeks, penguins flapping their arms trying to charm her, the bird-woman feeding pigeons, a man 'with a wooden leg called Smith'. Julie Andrew's finest.
Another cheerful musical I recall, 'The King and I'. It had a most outstanding rendition of 'Uncle Tom's Cabin', Siamese fashion. The king's hundred wives wore those hoop-ended frilly gowns in an attempt to adopt British customs, but met with a drawer related faux pas that I remember quite clearly.
My favorite is probably 'My Fair Lady'. Eliza Doolittle, the scruffy flower girl with her wide eyed dreams 'Wouldn't it be lov-a-ly', meets obnoxious grammarian Henry Higgins who bets that he can pass her off as a duchess with a few months of training. Enforcing his rules on poor bewildered Eliza, having her blabber into the gramophone, he finally succeeds in getting her grammar right with 'The rain in spain'. From her tentative, crude social appearance at the London derby, to her final triumph at the royal ball, Eliza won hearts with unforgettable tunes like 'I could have danced all night', while Professor Higgins preached about what would happen if you 'Let a woman in your life'. This is one i'll be watching for years to come.
On lonely afternoons, try getting comfortable on the couch with a musical playing before you. I assure you, there is nothing quite like it.