Tuesday, 22 January 2013


A few days ago I went to watch Les Misérables in the cinema. I'd never seen it in the theatre so I actively avoided looking up the story line beforehand – I wanted maximum impact and blow-me-away-factor when I saw it for the first time.

And it happened - I was genuinely blown away. Keep in mind - this doesn't happen to me willy nilly. I'm not the kind of person who gets blown away by a Snickers bar. Yes, they are damn delicious, but they don't incite a very explosive reaction.

But Les Mis did blow me away. For a multitude of reasons – the amazing stories of individual characters, beautiful songs, cinematically interesting shooting and probably most notably, the amazing skills of the actors and actresses. Just ask the mob over at the Golden Globe decision makers committee.

I found myself thinking, 'What are the chances of there being people walking around that are fantastic actors, and great singers?' Mr Jackman and young (former) Miss Hathaway suddenly seemed like real gems of their era and industry.

Then I remembered what I was doing around this time last month – I saw Singin' in the Rain in the theatre. And, oh yeah, every single person on the stage (and there were a fair few) were fantastic singers and actors, and they could dance. Like, really dance. I'm not talking about throwing shapes on a Friday night in Electric Social. I'm talking trained dancers. Like tapping, shucking, jiving and diving through the air, all while singing 'Moses Supposes'.


And then I thought of the original movie. And then, hang on, what about every movie of that era. It was common place for actors to have the full package – triple threats all over the place.

Yet today, when Hugh Jackman moves me to tears, I'm momentarily gob-smacked that he managed this feat, with a perfect vibrato.

My point? Well I'll never want to take away from the skills of the actors that so moved me. But I can't help but wonder what happened to the standards of the art? Sixty years ago, you had to be able to sing and dance at the same time, while maintaining a convincing grin, in dress-shoes, to be even considered for a leading role. Whereas today, I'm shocked when I learn an actress can do more than cry on cue.

Same goes for 'traditional' art. I went to a photography exhibition recently and genuinely felt my big sister could've quite easily reproduced the images in the smart frames on the walls, if only I lent her a decent camera and looked after her two kids for an afternoon.

Have the standards of art declined? And have our expectations dropped on response? Curious.

Or perhaps this is just my plea to the ether to please produce some more musicals. I do enjoy them so.

1 comment:

  1. Like you I had never seen the musical on the stage. So I had no preconceived ideas. I too was blown away by the singing performances. In particular Mr Jackman...I dont think that standards have declined..In the art world there has always been what we might call a subversive element who have been taken on by powerful people. Saatchi for example has been responsible for that!...I will stop now before I get carried away:) Simon