OK, I like - no I love musicals. Even though a lot of the time this demands a certain suspension from reality—I mean, how often do you see someone bursting into song and dance and no one notices? But I grew up watching Fred Astaire and Gene Kelly with any of their partners, have watched The Sound of Music too many times to count, and look forward to any announced new musicals (very few these days at least in film) but can always hope. My favorites do tend to be the ones that at least try for some semblance of reality such as An American in Paris where it is not just Gene Kelly dancing and singing but everyone on the street. Or White Nights which is technically not a musical, more a Cold War thriller…but when you have the incomparable Mikhail Baryshnikov and Gregory Hines dancing to classical-modern-jazz music it works for me.
When it comes down to it really, the modern master of musicals neither sings nor dances. When it comes to musicals of the last few decades it is hard to think of anyone more influential in film or theatre than Andrew Lloyd Webber. I recently finished reading his new memoir Unmasked and it was outstanding. I tried to treat it like I normally do with non-fiction, reading chapters at a time and breaking off to read a novel. But it essentially demanded my full and undivided attention, so I gave in. Memoirs are tricky in that I usually spend part of my time wondering how they could remember so much detail. Not so with this one, and in addition, I felt the author was amazingly frank and non-judgmental about the many people he knew, worked with, and even competed against. And not only was it a great memoir, it was also a very interesting look in at behind the curtain of some of the biggest shows on the West End and Broadway up through Phantom of the Opera. I just hope Lloyd Webber is working on part two!