Being the new face at an old party

The West End is like Disneyland to musical theatre fans. It’s a place where magic and music reign and where a different world hides behind every theatre door. I love theatre in all its forms, and have been to many cabarets, concerts, showcases, regional/Off-West End productions and so much more, but I do enjoy a visit to London’s West End.

I’ve seen many musicals there, some which have blown me away and some…well, some I wish I could huff and puff and blow away! I’ve seen classics like Les Miserables and The Phantom of the Opera multiple times, and would go again in a heartbeat; in fact, I’m seeing Phantom again with my mum in a few weeks’ time. There’s also been a number of shows that I’ve greatly enjoyed but only seen the once, although I certainly plan to make a return trip at some point. The Lion King would be one such show, as would Matilda, Cats and many more. I saw Wicked with my daughter a couple of years ago, when Rachel Tucker and Gina Beck were playing the lead roles of Elphaba and Glinda with former Busted band member Matt Willis as Fiyero, and it was a great experience, made even better by a backstage tour after the performance. I’m also planning to take her to see Billy Elliot soon as she’s never seen it. My sisters and I took our dad as a birthday treat years ago and I haven’t been back since, so that’s one which is high on the list of shows to see.

Everyone has a list of shows they particularly want to see, I’m sure. I’m also sure that list will be a mix of already-seen shows and ones that are still to be seen. I know mine is. Alongside my tried-and-tested favourites are new musicals such as Kinky Boots, but there are other musicals on there too. Musicals I haven’t seen yet, but which can’t be counted as ‘new’ musicals.

If you say you like musicals, it seems as though you’re expected to have seen every musical production that’s ever been staged. Many, many musical theatre fans have certain shows that, although it’s assumed they must have seen, have in fact, not. This is true of me, for sure.

The excitement about The Book of Mormon when it was announced to be transferring into the West End was off the hook! Rarely has a musical been so highly anticipated, and with good reason, as it is still one of the hottest tickets in town nearly three years later. I still haven’t seen it.

Mamma Mia! is the most successful jukebox musical of all time, with a record-breaking run of sixteen years that places it as the third longest running musical currently playing in the West End. A feel-good show based on the music of ABBA, it remains a favourite with theatregoers and has many returning to see it again and again. I still haven’t seen it.

Another jukebox favourite is Jersey Boys, which tells of the rise and fall of Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons. It’s been a big hit here in the West End and even won an Oliver Award for Best Musical when it made its debut here. That was over seven years ago, and guess what…I still haven’t seen it.

There’s no real reason why I haven’t seen any of these shows yet. It’s certainly not because I don’t want to, I’d be there in a flash if the offer was made! It’s probably a combination of time and money, I suppose. I don’t live in London anymore, so trips to the West End tend to be a little more spaced apart now. I don’t get there as much as I would like to, which means I’ve had to put certain shows on the back burner until I am able to see them, or even missed out of productions completely, which is a real bummer.

I do plan to get to these shows as soon as an opportunity presents itself. I’m going to see Miss Saigon in the New Year for example. Yes that’s right, I’ve never seen Miss Saigon. The original West End production closed when I was fifteen, and at that age I hadn’t really embraced the whole musical theatre scene yet so I never saw it. I’ve since listened to the cast recording many, many times and adore the show, so when I learned it was coming back to the West End I was beyond thrilled. Finally! Here was my chance to see it! My planned visit kept getting pushed further and further back however, and when it was announced the production would be closing in February, it became a real possibility that I was going to miss my chance yet again. Thanks to my wonderful mum and the joy of Christmas giving though, I’m definitely going to see one of the greatest musicals of all time – it’s only been a twenty six year wait!

The point is, there are always going to be shows you haven’t seen but probably should have. It doesn’t make you any less of a musical theatre fan if you haven’t though. After all, new fans help to keep these great musicals going year after year…

By Julie Robinson: @missjulie25

Tuesday 20th October 2015