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Who Says I’ve Got No Culture?


On Friday night I went to see the thoroughly action-packed film XXX. This 21st century James Bond with steroids picture was a lot of fun. The dialogue was cheesy, the stunts were ridiculous, the storyline implausible and the one-liners awful. Precisely what I used to love about the Bond films of the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s. So that was refreshing and it served as an excellent advert for what a beautiful city Prague is. I really must go there.

Saturday evening, on the other hand, was quite a contrast. I went to see the musical Chicago in Leeds. For those of you who don’t know (including me prior to Saturday night) Chicago is a musical set in, eh, Chicago. It’s a story of murder, sex, more murder, exploitation, the American legal system and also murder. More than this was that nearly every girl in the show was scantily clad and in excellent shape. And for the ladies, there were plenty of good looking muscular male dancers on hand. I really did enjoy it and, while the only other big musical I’ve seen was Phantom of the Opera (now that was superb), I do like a good show.

John Altman, who played Nick Cotton in the quintessential British soap opera Eastenders (about down-trodden life in the east end of London) played the money-obsessed lawyer and it must be said that while his singing was excellent, his American accent seemed to wander from English west country to South African to American. It was quite funny and only added to the performance. I’ve sat through amateur dramatics before and – while some have been great – I’ve also spent plenty time watching the second hand of my watch rolling around. But with this I was glued to it and enjoying of it from start to finish.

My long-suffering girlfriend’s brother’s partner (are you with me?) knows me quite well and couldn’t believe I was going to a musical. I suppose most modern stereotypical males aren’t supposed to want to do that sort of thing. While I’m not the classic lager-drinking post-modern lad (in fact I almost never drink), I’m not exactly the shandy-drinking, limp-wristed, over-sensitive wet blanket type either. I guess like most people I’m somewhere in between. I just do the things I like, and I like the things I do (I love those phrases, like “winners never quit and quitters never win” or “it’s nice to be important but it’s more important to be nice”, I know dozens of them).

Sunday was spent mostly loafing around and eating, with a bit of kicking a football around (which I like to do). I train Monday to Friday so it’s always nice to have at least one lazy day at the weekend replacing all those burned calories (at least that’s my excuse). But if you’re thinking of going to see a musical but you either can’t be bothered or don’t think it’s your style, then my advice is to go. It’s better to try and fail than fail to try.

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Creator of John's Background Switcher. Scotsman, footballer, photographer, dog owner, risk taker, heart breaker, nice guy. Some of those are lies.

7 Comments Join the Conversation

  1. I saw Phantom of the Opera at the Apollo in Manchester and it is truly excellent. I’ve also seen 42nd Street (again fantastic). In fact, no matter how cheesy, I can honestly say that I have thoroughly enjoyed every musical I have been to.

    I haven’t seen Miss Saigon live, but I did find the soundtrack pretty bloody awful. Maybe it’s better live.

    I concur with John though – give it a try, it really is fun.


  2. “While I’m not the classic lager-drinking post-modern lad”…..


    “I’m not exactly the shandy-drinking, limp-wristed, over-sensitive wet blanket type either”


    Anyway, enough taunting. I saw Chicago earlier this year. We just missed Denise Van Outen’s Broadway stint by 5 days which was frustrating. But the cast consisted of a mixture of blondes and brunettes in a variety of saucy & skimpy outfits. The tunes were quite 20’s in style and the band were part of the action (and on stage) for the whole performance which surprised me. But we all thought it excellent and vowed to go again when we got back home.

    Of course we haven’t been to one since!

    The other musical I had connections with was “Les Miserables”. A completely different experience to Chicago – far more involving, emotional and eventually, sad. I actually got the music book and learned to the play songs to try and impress a fine lass back home (years ago – result…. well she liked the tunes…). Then I went to see it about 6 years ago at the Manchester Opera house… quite an experience, a revolving stage to whisk you from scene to scene, a fine but compact orchestra but abvoe all, the best songs I’ve heard from a musical (sorry Mr Lloyd Webber).

    So if you fancy seeing that John, I’ll watch it again.

    Just remember mine comes with out the lemonade in though.


  3. I have to admit, I’m very surprised that you went to see a musical – well done! May this be the start of something beautiful…….

    I’m a bit of a musical junkie myself, and one of the main advantages to working in London is that you can often get bargain tickets at the last minute (hence why I’ve seen Les Miserables three times!). In my (very humble) opinon, however, you’ve started your ‘musical appreciation journey’ with one of the less appealing shows – I personally didn’t enjoy Chicago when I saw it. Obviously it’s all down to personal taste, but my favourites are still the classics, such as Les Miserables and Miss Saigon.

    One musical that I can’t recommend highly enough is The Lion King. Not only for the songs (which are excellent, although I know some people are put off by the Elton John song) but more for the amazing costumes and scene-setting.

    One musical which surprised me was Buddy. I went along reticently to see it, not expecting to like it, but in fact thoroughly enjoyed it. Probably appeals more to the male population than something like My Fair Lady…!

    So when you’re next in London, John, I’m more than a willing participant if you need anyone to accompany you in your pursuit of even greater cultural heights……


  4. musicals and the theatre in general are one of the few plus sides of living in london, i saw contact last week, and while not really a musical and not helped in my view by using a pre-recodred soundtrack the second and third acts were amazing…. slightly more heavy going is the stoppard trilogy on at the national, worth going if you like your european history, but it is over 9 hours of play !

    in the last couple of years i’ve seen more plays than i have musicals but miss saigon was certainly worth seeing and better than phantom.

    like all types of entertainment (except maybe bear baiting!) there is a time and a place for musicals, but i find i have to be in the right frame of mind to go and see them, however once there i nearly always enjoy them.


  5. Miss Saigon is finished in London, but is on in Edinburgh at the moment if you’re interested. It’s definitely worth seeing – one of my all-time favourite musicals. I always find listening to the soundtrack a few times before seeing the show makes the songs a lot more meaningful, plus you’ve got a better idea of what the storyline is.


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