I was eight when I saw my first West End musical.
My parents were entertaining clients on a weekend in London and for the very first time I was allowed to go too.
I had a brand new dress to wear (sweetheart neckline, red with black polka dots and a black puffball skirt. It was 1988 but I’ll be honest I would still totally rock that look now) and a bag of sweets in my handbag. This is what ‘grown up’ felt like.
Nothing could have prepared me for what was inside the Apollo Victoria Theatre.
I took my seat. Racetracks and dry ice appeared from nowhere, lights flashed, incredible storytelling music blasted out, characters whizzed past me on rollerskates…..HOLY MOLY. I had never seen anything quite so amazing in my entire life. I sat transfixed for three hours, lost in the races, the romance (once a sop, always a sop) the drama, the music, the ROLLERSKATES.
Some musical theatre afficionados are really quite snobby about Starlight Express, but I can honestly say as an 8 year old girl who loved to sing and dance (and rollerskate!) it was like discovering a magical land you didn’t know existed. I had the absolute time of my life!
I begged my Mum to buy me every single bit of Starlight Express merchandise that existed. My favourite was the double cassette tapes of the cast recording of which I learned every single word off by heart. I still have them. I often joke that I could probably perform a one-woman version of most musicals, but with this one I really probably could. The journey home to Wales (of course on a train) was accompanied by me and my walkman singing train-themed love songs. Bet the other passengers loved me! And I can remember belting out ‘Only He’ for months in my bedroom (epic key change ballad…I still sing it in my kitchen)
It is safe to say that this night sparked a lifelong love affair with musical theatre. I just adore stories being told in this way and enjoy escaping for a few hours to a world where singing and dancing through life is just the way it is. I don’t think there is anything in the world that couldn’t be made significantly better by adding the words “…..The Musical” to the end of it.
Sing and dance your way through it all. Or rollerskate. Or all three. I’m going to.
Here’s what I see on my desk at work every day…its my reminder.