M is for Musicals

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.

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C is for Choir

Strap in. I have lots to say on this one. Have you ever sung in a choir?

Nothing is better for the soul.

As a child, it was the only time I didn’t stammer or squint (my two favourite childhood nervous afflictions) A miracle cure!

My primary school teacher Mrs Davies arrived into my life with funky hair, an acoustic guitar and Simon and Garfunkel.

A bit like an 80’s version of Maria from The Sound of Music.

She was incredible.

Her passion and love for music was infectious and although I could never quite master an instrument (my cymbal playing on Bright Eyes was a defining moment for me musically) I loved to be in her world.

She introduced me to songs I had never heard before, she formed our very own primary school ‘Folk Group’ and we sang our hearts out. How cool were we?!

I had found a new love.

Somewhere between growing up, taking exams, discovering boys and deciding my direction in life, I lost this love.

Fast forward 20 years (oh my goodness I am OLD) and I’m wiping tears away from my eyes after watching the most inspiring TV documentary featuring two incredible women in business. It was moving, exciting and I was undeniably left with the strongest feeling I LOVE THESE WOMEN! I WANT TO BE IN A CHOIR!

I can remember posting something that day on my Facebook wall, along the lines of…CAN’T STOP CRYING AT THIS. I NEED TO BE IN A CHOIR! Mrs Davies commented (because we are still in touch, albeit virtually. Who would let someone amazing like that leave their life?) “Do it Kate!”

A tiny fast forward this time…I’m sat in my office and an email plops into my inbox inviting volunteers to attend a choir taster session at my workplace. DING.

Of course, as the Universe has such a wonderful way of bringing amazing things into your life at exactly the right moment, with exact synchronicity….the choir taster session was being run by the INCREDIBLE Sing and Inspire which (surprise surprise) was dreamed up by the same two amazing women featured in the TV doco I had sobbed along with. Destiny!

I STILL LOVE THESE WOMEN! I STILL LOVE BEING IN A CHOIR!

I feel very lucky to say that going along, singing some songs (unintentional rhyme) has brought so many wonderful things into my life. New opportunities, new experiences and most importantly of all, new friends for life. You’ll hear more about them in future A-Z posts.

The singing bit is important, but the warmth, love and energy is the really really good bit.

I’m so grateful I can count all of the Sing and Inspire team as colleagues and friends. They were meant to be in my journey.

Recognise those moments in your life when the dots line up.

Join a choir. Sing. Never look back…but only to see how far you’ve come.