The smiles were broad and the laughter evident at the end of Shipston Music Society’s evening in March. The Oxford Operatic Society were in town to present the story of musical theatre with a programme of songs, moving and joyful, classic and modern. From Oklahoma to Les Miserables, Oh Coward!, Grease and Singing in the Rain, Sweeney Todd to Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, and a lot in between, the voices were strong, harmonies superb and the acting talented and at times hilarious.
Alongside the glorious songs, we were told that musical theatre had evolved from music hall acts to whole shows with a definite story enhanced by music. When Rodgers and Hammerstein wrote Oklahoma! in 1943 a golden age of classic musicals was born which lasted into the early 1960s and which was to give rise not only to shows on huge canvasses, but to singing and dancing often of a standard that current performers can only attempt to emulate. Musical shows today are usually smaller in scale and are often based on the songs of performers with a storyline attached.