I was listening today to a recording of Evita that my apartment-mate had borrowed from the Glendale library. It made me travel, as music often does, back in time. To be precise, nine years and three months ago.
I used to go to a boys school and my friends and I were understandably delighted one day to learn that an all-girls group from a Himalayan boarding school were soon going to perform in our auditorium. It would be a musical, we were informed, though at that time I didn’t really know what that meant. My only exposure to music outside the staple fare of Bengali and Hindi songs had been some Western classical — mostly Mozart — and a heterogenous collection of old pop — ABBA, Cliff Richard, John Denver.
On the day of the performance I was dismayed to learn that most of my friends had made other plans. However I decided to go ahead on my own. I had never seen a musical before and was also curious to see how well these girls from the school with a quaint name (which I have sadly forgotten today) would carry it off. The musical was called Evita, of course, and the brochure handed to us neatly summarised the story and even had the lyrics to most of the songs. I thought that was very professional and it gave me a good feeling about the show itself.
The moment the show started, I realised that it was going to be nothing like I had ever seen in my life.
For those girls were good. They were really damn good. They sang effortlessly and acted brilliantly. Everything about them seemed to have been choreographed to perfection. There were no slip-ups, indeed no mistakes worth pointing out. They were all so pretty and graceful as they danced and emoted and moved around the stage that I was simply mesmerized. And they were just kids my age!
And the songs. I just loved them! Since then I have heard a lot of other work by Andrew Lloyd Webber but the magic of that night was something special. As I left the show there was no doubt in my mind that I had witnessed something utterly spectacular which I would not forget as long as I lived.
And indeed, as I heard the same music today, nine years later, those memories came back to me clear as ever. That was a memorable night and not just for the performance I witnessed. It was also the date when I discovered certain swellings on my neck that terrified me and changed the course of my life for a long time. That, however, is another story entirely.