The tickets had been cancelled twice in the last 2 years, but finally it was going ahead. In the weeks leading up to the performance, I was many times on the brink of cancelling, as I had to weigh up the possibility of catching Covid 19 and, at best, recovering but being in isolation for a week as a result.
In the end, inertia took over, and I went with the flow, out to dinner, and then to the show.
Entering the theatre foyer, we could see that it would be full. The sounds of the crowd around us were normal, but one only had to glance around to see that these were not normal times. Staff and many of the patrons were wearing masks, a hallmark of this pandemic era which has been characterised by anxiety, inhibition, and unease, truncated supermarket expeditions and interactions, home entertainment only, and irritations with others for their slip ups with hygiene.
As we went upstairs to our seats, I looked around and saw the faces of the young theatre ushers and those handing out programs as, in a way heroic. Their friendly smiles showed clearly in their eyes above the masks covering half their faces.
We sat in a row, the four of us wearing face masks, earrings pearls and pashminas.
The show started on time, the cast bursting onto the stage with an explosion of energy. They danced with precision. Dancing is a way of being where the whole body is energised, which could be seen in the tautness and readiness of their postures. You could see the legs of the men outlined slightly through their tight trousers, so obedient to the programmed routine in their heads, and responding each millisecond the music. The women were rounded, their limbs shorter, bare and curved, but with equal energy to the men, they dashed across the stage with artistry and total immersion in the music.
It was not their era. I first heard the music when I was about 14, my introduction to "Pop". But the young cast members presented the story and the music as though they had been there. It was real!
I saw the performance as an assertion over the virus that is so hell-bent on invading us with every breath. They were at risk, possibly more than we in the audience were, but one wouldn't have known if there were any fears amongst them. The art form, finally taking expression, took precedence after having been suppressed for so long. For those two short hours, it was bigger than the existential threat.
[This article was a response to Thursday 19th May 2022 performance of Jersey Boys (about The Four Seasons group) by CLOC Musical Theatre at The National Theatre in St. Kilda Melbourne.]