Spectating Instead of Creating

Sometimes I feel like I’m the Queen of Getting Stuck in a Rut, which, as far as royalty goes, isn’t very glamorous. (And when I say “rut” I don’t mean a routine, either, because one of my ancillary kingdoms is the Duchy of Procrastination, neighbored by the Earldom of Wasting Time). For me, when I’m focused on a project I develop a strange fixation with having all of my “active” work rhythms–journaling, reading, listening to music, plus of course writing–be in service of the project I’m working on. Which means that when it comes to leisure activities–when I know I should be refilling the well in an intentional way–I don’t have the mental capacity left for anything of substance and turn to fluff. Bad movies, Regency romance novels, Candy Crush Saga. Not that there’s anything wrong with fluff! But (wo)man cannot live on fluff alone.

And then the next day I feel guilty for failing to refill the creative well, and I buckle down even harder on what I’m allowed to read and write during active work time.

Rinse, repeat. Binge, purge.

Sigh. Like I said, Queen of Ruts.


A few weeks ago, I bought a ticket to the pre-Broadway world premier of Moulin Rouge: the Musical. Now, even though I love musicals, I almost never see them live. First, there’s the price, which is always steep, especially if you don’t want to use binoculars to see the actors’ faces. Second, there are the crowds, which make me nervous on a good day and can induce panic on a bad one. And third, there’s the husband who hates musicals, which is usually an easy excuse to let myself talk myself out of going based on the first two reasons.

But this time was different. I kept staring at the glamorous poster and thinking about the extravagant movie and its bohemian ideals: Freedom, Beauty, Truth & Love. I knew I needed this. So–gnashing my teeth at the price–I booked a ticket before I could change my mind.

I’m SO GLAD I did!

moulin rouge

The venue–the historic Emerson Colonial Theater–was stunning, frescoed and gilded in true Fin de Siecle glory. And the show was magnificent! From the very first number I was completely swept away, transported to Paris and the Moulin Rouge. I laughed, I cried, I cheered, and I clapped along to a seriously dizzying array of elaborate pop-culture inspired songs and dances. I think I barely blinked for three whole hours, enraptured in the sensation of being a spectator to someone else’s art. And when the curtain finally fell and I walked out into the night, I felt full. I felt inspired, with stories and songs and images dancing in the darkened set of my mind, just waiting for the spotlight to shine on them.

So maybe the choice isn’t between gruel and fluff; rigorous work and mindless fluff. Going forward, I’m going to try and challenge myself to participate in other forms of art that will challenge, excite, and inspire me. My own art can only grow in leaving it behind for an hour or two.

Author’s Note: The original title was changed after a dear friend pointed out a problematic element that I had failed to register. I offer sincere apologies to anyone who may have been offended and I will seek to be better in the future.

4 thoughts on “Spectating Instead of Creating

  1. You get extra points for the great Princess Bride gif! I, too, love musicals (actually any kind of theatre, though I’m not keen on opera), but I don’t see them nearly as much as I’d like. Glad this one helped you!

    1. Haha, one of my all-time favorites! I do too, and from now on I’m going to challenge myself to seek it out more regularly, local and community as well as bigger productions!

  2. mphtheatregirl says:

    I am a musical theatre fanatic and do not see many a year. Each year, I always hope to go at least once. It usually is one average one to two musicals a year, but some years there have been exceptions.

    2015 is one of those exception years- I said on average 1-2 a year. This was a year of 4 musicals- that’s right 4 musicals, but it was a very special year. It started with Music Man at Gardner Webb University, a musical I knew some of the part and knew some songs.

    2nd musical was Pippin on tour, the last experienced of the batch and what I could the spectacle show of the year. In a way almost didn’t happen. Mom got the two of us tickets the week before- there was only one day left with seats together so that’s a close.

    4th musical- yes, I skipped the 3rd one for now, but I have my reason. The 4th musical was Sound of Music, which was the perfect ending since I loved the movie and musical since childhood. I just never saw the stage show.

    3rd musical- Les Mis, I wasn’t just seeing Les Mis. It was Les Mis in the West End- a dream fulfilled. When I found out I was seeing it in June, I ran to my mom crying. The day of on July 30th, the moment I saw the Queen’s Theatre, I really thought I was imagining it even when buying souvenirs even when noticing how close I was to the stage even looking at the set, but hearing the first note of the orchestra told me this is no dream- it was a dream becoming reality. Out of all four musicals, Les Mis gave me the most job. So 2015 was an exception to how many musicals I see on average.

    2018 is going to repeat the same pattern that 2015 did. The four musical thing. Oklahoma, Grease, and Newsies were inexpensive compared to touring productions- I saw those at community college and you never could suspect it. Now in September, I am seeing Lion King on tour. So this is the 2nd year I am seeing 4 musicals.

    But on average, I only see one to two musicals due to the price- I have to rely on touring on touring productions if you are an American who doesn’t live near or in NYC. So thankful that Charlotte is a popular touring production stop. I am a musical theatre fanatic.

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