BEST OF 2023: Thank You For The Music - but PLEASE don't sing along with us

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An empty stage before Mamma Mia starts.

The calm before the storm … the set for Mamma Mia. Photo: Supplied.

Year in Review: Region is revisiting some of the best Opinion articles of 2023. Here’s what got you talking, got you angry and got you thinking this year. Today, Jen White shares her off-key experience at a musical.

I’m nothing special, in fact I’m a bit of a bore
If I tell a joke, you’ve probably heard it before
But I have a talent, a wonderful thing
‘Cause everyone listens when I start to sing
I’m so grateful and proud
All I want is to sing it out loud
– Thank You for the Music, Abba

I’m the first to admit I can’t sing to save my life.

I love nothing more than playing loud music in the car and singing (well, trying to) tunelessly at the top of my voice – no one can hear me, I don’t upset anyone and I’m happy.

I really wish I could hold a tune, but sadly it’s never going to happen.

But I was shocked – gobsmacked even – when recently I was tapped on the shoulder by an usher shining his torch in my face and told to stop singing – at a musical!

I could really understand the admonishment if I was drowning out Anne Hathaway during her powerful, emotional rendition of I Dreamed a Dream in Les Mis – hey, I’d kick myself out of the theatre.

No, my transgression came during Mamma Mia The Musical, billed as “your ticket to join the party of a lifetime”, even described by one reviewer as “the party of the century”.

All I can say is we must’ve gone to the wrong party ’cause most parties I’ve been to usually involve singing at some stage, and nine times out of 10 it’s an Abba song that gets belted out.

I defy anyone of my vintage who grew up with Abba to watch any version of Mamma Mia and not sing – it’s practically impossible.

My long-suffering husband has sat through more viewings of Mamma Mia! and Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again than he will ever care to count (sitting in another room with two doors shut between us does still count apparently). He who gets frustrated by my aversion to watch a movie more than once is staggered by just how many times I’ve managed to overcome that with Mamma Mia.

Yet he and my equally long-suffering son still managed to conspire to surprise me with tickets to the show for my recent birthday. I was over the moon, even more so when my sister and her (long-suffering) husband joined the surprise.

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Apparently I was so excited I was totally oblivious to the ushers walking around before the show holding signs saying “No singing allowed” – true story.

Clearly I wasn’t the only one to miss them though, a couple of other showgoers sharing our table during interval were just as dumbfounded as we were. In fact, one even bought me a wine to help wash down the indignation.

I could bang on and on about the myriad benefits of singing and the decades of research conducted around the world that proves it releases the brain’s “feel good” chemicals, making you feel happier and uplifted. It’s been found to boost your immune system, help with language development and even reduce the risk of dementia. After my experience, though, the jury is still out on the research that found singing improves social bonding and social cohesion.

Look, I get it, you pay a lot of money for the privilege of watching shows like this (oh, and did I mention we were sitting in the second row from the back?) and you’d much prefer to hear professionals sing than the warbling behind you.

But seriously people, you’re not at a library, you’re watching a musical – it’s all about the music and the singing. If you are so miffed that you have to ask to be reseated, stay home next time and watch the movie.

A friend from Bris Vegas rang the next day to wish me happy birthday and shared how much she was looking forward to seeing Mamma Mia The Musical in a few weeks.

“Just don’t sing,” I warned her.

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roger Hughes12:36 pm 17 Aug 23

Heard you sing before Jen; it was a mercy call 🙂

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