by Kenneth Lyen
Mama Mia is coming to Singapore in September 2004:
I saw the show in London and liked it very much. If you enjoy Abba's music, then this is a show that displays many of their best songs. However, if you're looking for a musical with a strong story line, then perhaps you should look elsewhere.
This is not the first time that a musical has been built around well known songs not written initially for musical theatre. A few years ago, the Buddy Holly Story came to Singapore. Saturday Night Fever, it could be argued, is a display of BG's music. Queen did it with We Will Rock You, and more recently Billy Joel's songs are featured in the musical Movin Out.
The difficulty with this type of musical is that the songs have already been written, and almost certainly without any story in mind. Hence the plot has to be woven in afterwards, often years later. This works with varying degrees of success. But as the music is so strong in the first place, it works. I regard the musical more as a concert primarily, and the story as a secondary afterthought. Restricting the music to predominantly one major songwriter or one band makes this genre a sort of tribute to them. Fine with me!
Perhaps a little bit more controversial when you take a bunch of hit songs written by a range of composers, and string them together into a musical. This is not a recent phenomenon. The Wizard of Oz and Singin' in the Rain have a few songwriters. I was not aware of this until recently. These older musicals also work for me.
So why is it that I'm a little unhappy with the more recent musicals that compile songs by several composers? Musicals like Love Labours Lost, Moulin Rouge, or The Boy from Oz? I feel a bit uncomfortable with such shows. I can't explain why. Maybe I just have to forget that they are compilations of many songwriters, and just enjoy the show more as a concert or a revue?