I saw my first show back when I was about five. It was Chitty Chitty Bang Bang at the London Palladium. I don’t remember much but being right up at the top. I remember loving it.
The next few shows after that were The Lion King at the Lyceum, We Will Rock You at the Dominion and Wicked at the Apollo Victoria. And while I loved the first two, it was Wicked which changed my life (I have been changed for good..)
Following on, every birthday and Christmas I’d ask my family for theatre tickets and those would be my main presents. And this is where it really takes off. We were off to see Legally Blonde at the Savoy when I was told of something I’d never heard of before: “Stage Door”. This apparent regular door where you can meet the stars of the show. We were told to bring a sharpie, so we did.
On my first theatre trip to stage door I had the pleasure of meeting Lee Mead after his performance as Emmett, plus a few ensemble members. Of course, 12 year old me was beyond fascinated with being able to meet the cast and this made the theatre more than just a show for me, but an experience. Being able to meet the cast, thank them for their amazing performances as well as getting signatures and photos made it so special for me and here my true love for this whole industry was born.
Fast forward a bit more. Seen more shows, still couldn’t really afford to see them by myself nor did I have many friends who loved theatre. It’s 2010, the year of the Les Miserables 25th anniversary which mum took us to watch in the cinema. I’ll be honest, 13 year-old me didn’t understand the plot but I did love the music, the sort of story she could grasp and the acting. My favourite was Eponine (which I pronounced Ep-on-een-ee) at the time.
Over the years, I met some girls online who had a shared love for theatre and one particular theatre actress: Samantha Barks. These friends and I met in real life for the first time (after knowing each other online for about a year first) in the summer of 2013.
Through January to March 2015 I saw 15 shows. I’m not sure then if it was a slight addiction or an escape from other things I struggled with, like communicating your trpical teenage girl problems; fitting in, boys and body image. Either way, the theatre was there for me when I felt like I lost a lot and was losing my feet. What I realised I love about theatre is that there is always a song. Musical theatre is so vast, covers so many themes, topics and explores so many characters that there’s always someone you can identify with. Michelle Knudosn once said
“Musical theatre can save you, even if only for two or three hours at a time”
I love that.
I also became very invested in the Les Mis London casts from 2013-2015. I would meet them at the stage door they were like my friends. Sometimes we’d bring gifts, always get pictures taken, and there is where I felt myself. A niche community quickly formed online with fans of the same cast and a new set of friends was made. I felt at home. Rather than going out at the weekends I would much rather sit on my laptop and spend time on social media talking to people the same as me about shows and casts and all things theatre.
The amount of theatre we have is so vast and I’m so grateful for every show I’ve seen. I feel there are aspects of every character in me; some days I’m Elle trying to graduate from Harvard and some days I’m Connor dealing with depression and some days I’m Cinderella stuck on the steps of the palace not knowing what to do and some days I’m just Sophie.