I saw my first musical in 1989.
My mother took my sister and me on a rare trip with just the three of us. Three days in Toronto, and on the first night Phantom of the Opera. We sat in the third row and when that chandelier came down it was right above our heads before zipping onto the stage to play its assigned role. (In the book I believe it kills Raoul’s brother, but in the play Raoul saves Christine’s life by pushing her out of the way, though my memory may be fuzzy).
Later that summer my mother would take us to two more shows back at home at the Nationals Arts Centre – Les Miserables and Cats. Les Mis would become a favourite, Cats is stupid.
I don’t know what it is about these shows that I love so much, but love them I do. Some of them captivate me when I see them, some of them before I ever get the chance.
I was living in a small town in Northern Ontario when I first watch the Tonys and saw a performance of Defying Gravity. I knew I had to see Wicked the minute I listened to that song, and eventually I would take myself to Toronto to do just that. I went there and back in a day and it was totally worth it.
The minute I heard Waving Through A Window on the Sirius XM Broadway channel I knew I needed to see Dear Evan Hansen.
The full soundtrack wasn’t even out yet, the show hadn’t officially premiered, but that song told me all I needed to know, and I listened to it on repeat for days.
Last year Joe and I were planning a trip to New York City. We had tickets for Hamilton and Dear Evan Hansen, before it won the Tony for Best Musical. But the election came and went and things started to feel very uncomfortable, and then I was out of work for a bit and our budget was also feeling uncomfortable. I sold the tickets and went back to only being able to think about a trip.
But then the last little bit of inheritance from my father came in. We had talked about what to do with it, and the possibility that I could use it to take a trip, either by myself or with the kid. My father loved to travel, and I’ve seen a lot of Canada but very little of anything else. My father also loved Broadway and the West End in London. He took me to see Mamma Mia one Christmas as my gift. I thought it so funny that he didn’t live to see a musical about Gander’s support of those waylaid there by 9/11 gain such success. He spent years studying Gander. He would have either loved it or picked it apart, or both.
So, in a way, I am going to New York for me and for my father. I am going to New York City by myself and I am seeing three amazing musicals while I am there and I might cry every night out of sheer joy. I am going to see Hamilton, Dear Evan Hansen before the end of Ben Platt’s run, and the one and only Bette Midler staring in Hello Dolly.
I don’t know if there is a movie musical that I have watched more times than Hello Dolly.
I’m a bit scared, but also not. I’m excited. I don’t have to answer to anyone but me and I don’t have to be anywhere at any specific time, except when the curtain goes up. I can spend a whole day just walking around, being amazed by all the things I recognize.
And when I get home I will listen to the same soundtracks with a new and better understanding and it will be glorious.