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You Had Me At "It's A Musical"

I had the fortune of stumbling upon Death To Stock's writing prompts this month, and - challenge accepted.

This week's prompt is all about the music that moves you, so it's a tough one.


I love music. Music is life. I can't get through a single day without listening to it - in my car, at work, when I'm writing. Classical, metal, pop, jazz, I love them all, so choosing a favourite song/genre was a near impossible task, but if I go back to basics, I must admit that the music that truly moves me, is the music that moves. On stage and screen.

My musical education started with my Dad. I just wanted to play the piano like he did, so I was ecstatic when lessons were finally possible the year I turned nine, and they continued right into my High School years (I eventually quit after my 5th UNISA degree in piano, 6th in musical theory, when playing had started to feel like something I had to do). In addition to the piano lessons, Dad also brought home a copy of My Fair Lady on VHS when we were little. It was love at first sight (my sister & I watched that tape until it became wonky).

At first, school was hard for me. We weren't as well off as the Middle Class, I was extremely shy and dorky, and being bigger than my peers (with boobs and the female works) at the age of ten did not make it any easier. Basically, I stood out for all the wrong reasons. As with books, music was a way to escape my social ineptitude.

Then there was Miss Engal.

In the sixth grade (or Standard 4 as we called it in South Africa back then), I was chosen by the teachers to serve on the Primary School's prefect body and our Arts teacher, Miss Engal, took the whole team on a celebratory outing to watch West Side Story at the Sand du Plessis theatre in Bloemfontein [1995].

I don't know if she ever thoroughly realised how perfect that choice of musical was. Not only did it strike a chord with my already established love of The Musical, but growing up in post-apartheid South Africa, it highlighted love's ability to help heal the trauma caused by discrimination as well as the way it can start to break through the wall of irrational fear and prejudice that forms part of that hateful package.

That night I forgot about how out of place I felt - even as part of a team. My eyes and ears were fixed on the stage and the acoustics, because I was mesmerized by this powerful tale being told through music and dance.

There is no time to think of yourself when you get lost in a story. That's what I'm reminded of when I listen to broadway music, and when I listen to any part of the West Side Story's musical score, I am transported back to that outing. I can feel the bumpy ride on the bus from Kimberley to Bloemfontein, the feel of my floral print maxi dress against my skin, the hair down my back, and the excitement of doing something that I've never experienced before.

I'm still awkward. Time didn't change EVERYTHING, but today I revel in it, knowing that yogurt has more culture than those who just don't get it.

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