I want a smoke machine, a wind machine and a pair of ruby slippers...
When I was young I loved music theatre. Mother bought me a monthly publication called The Magic Of The Musicals and I would eagerly await its arrival. I would put the CD on, read the synopsis of the plot, carefully slip the sleeve notes out of the CD cover and listen again whilst following the lyrics.
Then I would listen again whilst singing along. My poor parents - there I would be, headphones on, belting out some number from Cats - and everyone knows singing with headphones on often has interesting consequences for one's intonation, so it probably sounded like the said Cats were being strangled!
When I saw a call for auditions for a children's choir to appear in a production of Joseph and The Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat at Belfast's Lyric Theatre, I pestered my mother until I was allowed to audition. There followed for her an entire summer season of driving up and down the motorway, waiting at rehearsal halls and outside the theatre. I was having a ball, loving being on stage and bouncing around like a lunatic. I even still remember the vocal warmups we learnt as the vocal coach attempted to persuade some annunciation into our broad Northern Ireland accents.
I think in the classical world we sometimes have a tendency to look down on the world of musical theatre, as though our genre were the only legitimate form of music making. In other words, I think we can be a bit snobby at times. To do this is to ignore, or discount the very real connection that songs from the shows make with their audience; I'm pretty sure a greater proportion of the general population could sing with great love and affection a few strains of Climb Every Mountain from The Sound Of Music, than could recognise Haydn's 'Joke' Quartet.
Songs from the shows take us back to a more innocent time and allow us to suspend reality for a little while. The recent resurgence of the musical (take Hairspray, Legally Blonde and, of course, Wicked, for example) would suggest that this is still a relevant medium for our times.
On Friday and Saturday, we are joined by welsh singer Sophie Evans in a concert of tunes from the shows and, to the great excitement of a number of colleagues, Disney tunes. Many of you will remember Sophie as the runner up in the TV reality show Somewhere Over The Rainbow, and indeed, she has recently taken over the role of Dorothy full time in London's West End.
This is a great fun concert for the whole family, though Sophie should watch her back. I want to sing! My section have been indulging my fantasy this week and it has now grown to monstrous proportions that involve me being lifted on wires from my seat in the viola section as I sing Somewhere Over The Rainbow, before being gently and elegantly lowered into a pair of ruby slippers!
The BBC National Orchestra of Wales performs music by Bernstein, Coates, Strauss and songs from The Sound of Music and The Wizard of Oz and many more tonight, Friday 30 March at 7pm, at Theatr Brycheiniog, Brecon and tomorrow, Saturday 31 March, 7pm at St David's Hall, Cardiff. Tickets are available from the venues - Theatr Brycheiniog 01874 611622/St David's Hall 02920 878444.The concert will be recorded for future broadcast on BBC Radio Wales.