The Theater, The Ability to Stare

The Theater, The Ability to Stare

It’s official; Broadway has arrived in Milano at Barclays Teatro Nazionale, presenting: The Best of Musical, a live journey of the four most beloved musicals of the last decade all in one show: Beauty & The Beast, Mamma Mia!, Sister Act and Saturday Night Fever. Performing were famous Italian musical actors of Stage Italia from 2009 to 2013. The show runs from May 5th-17th, 2015. 

Barclays Teatro Nazionale (Slogan: the colors of emotions) is truly a magnificent structure. As it was my first time, I was immediately struck by the architecture of the building. The all white massive edifice presented arched windows with bright blue curtains. In 2009, the structure received a total renovation leaving only its old façade from 1922 in its original state. The inside was definitely more contemporary, accommodating the latest technologies with a modern design.

From my seat, I noticed the theater was spacious yet intimate. There is always an energy residing inside of a theater different from the outside world, familiar yet unknown. The anticipation of the show starting filled the air, as mumbles grew louder. Suddenly, “Buon Divertimento!” was heard across the loud screen as the lights went dark. Then, the screen lifted providing light and fog against a dark stage. Appearing against a dimly lit stage was an original ensemble of 10 (5 women and 5 men) accompanied by a live band.

The cast opened with ABBA’s, “I have a dream” from Mamma Mia! which complimented the emotion of beginning and optimism well. This set the scene for the audience to have a strong sense of the musical talent of the ensemble. The songs that followed included “Stayin’ Alive” by the Bee Gee’s from Saturday Night Fever and one of my favorites “Dancing Queen” by ABBA. “Boogie Shoes” from Saturday Night Fever, allowed for a solo which brought the performer into the audience accompanied by a spotlight.

The energy and emotions shifted from song to song depending on the lyrics and presentation. At one moment you wanted to dance disco with Saturday Night Fever, the next you were engulfed in the emotions of Sister Act, Beauty and the Beast and Mamma Mia! The audience clapped in unison, dancing and swaying to the melodies. Each selection from the four musicals was different yet, complimented each other in terms of the fluidity of the performance. A smile never left my face and my eyes were glued to the stage, as music is the fullest expression of emotion. 

How epic and influential these plays are to contemporary theater and culture. Effecting music and dance in their own unique way. Yet, it is the storytelling and messages in which they convey that allows for their universality. It’s compelling how the melodies allow you to immediately understand the song. It’s as if the music is embedded in our very being on a subconscious level. The talent of the cast was palpable and their voices harmonized well. Music is truly the magnificent communicator. The finale was a compilation of the songs from the performance, which included my favorite song “Mamma Mia”. The audience sang along and gave a standing ovation. 

So what does the theater have that films don’t? The raw performance of the cast and organic emotions of the audience come to mind. The goal of the theater is the ability to stare. The moment belongs to the performer and if they’re successful, they have an intimate, almost indescribable relationship with the audience. With the theater there is no ambiguity; you’re either good or not. Quite simply, it’s the purest form of justice.

Shakespeare wrote, “All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players”. So we must ponder: Where does the stage end and reality begin? The stage is another paradigm of reality, the audience a perception of that truth. 

What’s your favorite song from your favorite Broadway musical? Post on Facebook, or Twitter using the hashtag #Expoincittà and tell us!

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