Musical Theater, like vampire mythology and Starbucks, is fairly universal; in this day and age it’s hard to go anywhere in the world without finding a familiar show. But if you do get to experience musical theater outside its biggest markets, you might find, well… I’ll just say it. The world at large has some very peculiar taste.
For example, I toured with this show around Asia, and let me tell you, as bizarre as this sounds, Taiwan, Korea, China, and Thailand all FLIPPED for this show in which a bunch of singer/dancers dressed up in unitards and pretended to be small animals who lived ON A GIANT GARBAGE HEAP. True! And they would dance around and pretend that this bigger animal in a gray rug had some magical power to send one of them up in a giant spiky pie tin to some form of heaven. It was crazy!
Okay fine, that was just ‘Cats’, and it’s popularity has nothing at all to do with any cultural difference between Asia and America/the UK/Australia/the ninety bajillion other places that love ‘Cats’ (it’s popularity has more to do with a jar sitting on Satan’s shelf somewhere marked ‘Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Soul’ if you ask me, but that’s neither here nor there). But nonetheless, there are certainly some subtle and peculiar changes that familiar shows sometimes undergo when they appear in different places. But these are not always bad things – in fact, there can sometimes be some elements that could be considered improvements. For example, I have always loved the awesome ‘Legally Blonde’, but there was a little part of my heart that was pining for something missing in it. What was it? I thought. But then I saw this video of the Dutch production, and realized what it was. For really, how could you do a production set at Harvard and NEGLECT Harvard’s proclivity for striped socks/blazers/scarves? I mean, let’s be honest, Harvard only has its stellar reputation because of its students’ penchant for natty patterning (and isn’t the ‘Ivy League’ just a reference to the ordered stripes of Harvard’s growing ivy? Hmm?), and deep dislike of full-length pants. Thank god someone finally got it right.