Give things another go

Jam of the week: “Avril 14th” by Aphex Twin

I’m amazed at how seemingly hard it is to get over the preferences of my youth. I once got sick after drinking root beer and didn’t drink it for a decade. I refused to eat popcorn for years after getting a kernel stuck in my throat. I decided I didn’t like rap music after hearing it on the radio.

Since then, I’ve experienced the joy of putting a dollop of ice cream in a glass of root beer, the beauty of kettle corn has brought me back into the fold of popcorn-lovers and after giving the hip-hop genre a chance in late high school, I have playlists filled with rappers I thoroughly enjoy. Through happenstance and a little willingness to retry things, I overcame those initial dislikes.

I suppose there is some logic behind that primal aversion to something you try once and don’t try again of your own volition. Even if multiple people recommend a restaurant to me, I won’t go back if the service or food is terrible on my first visit. Every once and a while though, I experience something that reverses that initial decision.

This brings me to my latest revelation. I might enjoy musical theatre. I don’t blame that dislike on conforming to the notion that musical theatre is not manly. I also don’t blame my sister for watching several filmed theatre performances on repeat during my childhood. However, I’m sure a side-effect of that was becoming bored with theatre. I instead devoted myself to learning more about the medium of film, which still fascinates me.

The rest of my experiences with musicals and musical theatre have been limited. I went to several high school plays to support friends that were acting in it, but that was the entirety of my frame of reference. I did watch and enjoy “Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog,” which helped me accept musicals. Still, I wasn’t convinced that a theater performance could match the impact of edited film. That’s probably because I still have yet to see a professional theatre production.

This past weekend, my mom visited Webster City. Unfortunately, the cold kept us largely confined to my apartment. When I got back from work, she was watching a recorded production of “Into the Woods” on Netflix. Unless you happened to skip to this part of the column, you’ll know why I am ill equipped to recommend a musical. Still, I truly enjoyed it.

The film presents a handful of fairy tales that intertwine. The play examines different aspects of the traditional hero’s journey and asks what comes after that journey in the second act. My excuse for not watching musical theatre for a while was that I didn’t think I would enjoy such a grandiose, traditional sound. I was very wrong, as evidenced by a severe lump in my throat during the closing songs of the play.

I even found time to appreciate the medium a bit more while I was watching the film. Even though the film was edited, I found myself appreciating how much effort must go into producing such a large-scale piece live. Even for a somewhat dated play, the lighting and production were much more spectacular than I expected. I won’t wax over any more of my thoughts on the medium, but I was shocked at how perfectly the play shattered my preconceived notions about theater.

Whether or not you enjoy musical theater, I think it’s important to challenge yourself to do things you think you won’t enjoy. I can’t say I would appreciate theatre if I would have tried to watch a play even five years ago, but I’m certainly glad I did now. Now, I’m going online to find some tickets to a show before one of my theatre-buff friends chastises me for not having seen one live yet.