Lately I keep finding myself with songs in my head from Sunset Boulevard. It’s a musical that won Tony awards in the early to mid 1990s. The sound track is from 1994 and features Glenn Close.
I listened to many, many broadway musical soundtracks when I was in high school. I generally liked the stories and and the music. They usually included lyrics in the liner notes and I could follow along and it was engaging, like with books on tape. I still love the subtle humor found in most shows (or not so subtle sometimes).
Seeing a show on stage was something I didn’t experience very often. But for me seeing a musical was amazing because I’d know the words by heart from reading along for months or years at home. It’s hard to describe as each show had different aspects that amazed me. When I first saw Phantom it was the pyrotechnics that I remember. I could feel the heat on my face from my seat in the balcony. With RENT the first time we had second row seats and I experienced the energy and emotions of the cast. We all cried for almost the entire second act. With Les Mis it was the amazing staging and set scenery and Colm Wilkinson as Jean Val Jean and being one row back from the orchestra pit. And for Lion King the amazing puppets, costumes and acrobatics stand out.
There’s a lot to a musical beyond the music, but listening to the soundtrack at home and reading along and learning to love the characters and their stories makes it all come together. It makes it very enjoyable even if you normally would not be able to understand the lyrics or follow the story at a show.
Sunset sounds great tonight even if I sometimes lose the thread of lyrics when I don’t focus on listening.