The Bluffer’s Guide to… the 10 people you meet at musicals

Ah, the romance of musical theatre! The roar of the greasepaint, the smell of the crowd! Ever since Mamma Mia! reignited our interest in plays-with-singing-in-them, we’ve experienced a second — or is it third? — Golden age of dramas and comedies with rousing and memorable soundtracks. And it’s not just the pop-based jukebox musicals that have packed them in. The ABBA and Queen songbooks proved to be ‘gateway drugs’ for whole new audiences to the joys of the musical.

Mind you, one can meet some strange characters at any musical. Let our friends from — what busy people read to sound smart and funny — introduce you to a few…


1. The ardent fan of the show

The ardent fan cannot get enough of her favourite show. She’s seen it 30 times and counting, lived through every cast change, has her own fan page on Facebook and knows every word of every tune. Hunts in packs: there’s a dozen of her in Row B. Young, free and, until this thing blows over, single.


2. The musical aficionado

Musical theatre is the aficionado’s lifeblood (and specialist subject on Mastermind). He makes it his business to catch every production’s first preview and heads straight home for a caustic session in the chatrooms. Nostrils tend to quiver at curtain up. In agony or ecstasy two hours later. Immaculately turned out. Ageless.


3. The woman who came in a coach party

She’s been bussed in from out of town on the promise of a good night out with other like-minded ladies. Though not entirely sure what she’s booked for, she loves a love song and a heaven-sent tap routine. Scours the actors’ biogs for TV shows she might have watched. A bit raucous in the Stalls bar before the show.


4. The husband who hates musicals

The golfing fifty-something in a blazer has been dragged along by the missus who heard about the show on Radio 2. Groans every time someone stops talking and, yet again, starts singing. He sits glumly through the redemptive torch songs and the high-kicking chorus lines quietly praying for the interval pick-me-up or, better still, the final curtain.


5. The international tourist

The international tourist is in town for the sights and the shows, even though the show toured through their home town last year. Tends to be found clustering at indestructible 80s blockbusters and mega jukebox musicals. Can’t quite believe the beauty of the Victorian auditorium and the price of interval ice-creams.


6. The fan club secretary

The fan club secretary is the big star’s most loyal cheerleader. She turns up — often alone — to everything he does, never fails to give a standing ovation and, after the curtain, heads for the Stage Door where she waits as long as it takes for a photo with Him, who knows her by face if not quite by name. Patrols the cybersphere for negative coverage, and pounces like a hellcat.


7. The child on the family night out

They’re either loving it or hating it. There’s no in-between. Either way he or she tends to commentate throughout to his or her mum and kick the chair in front. Very smartly dressed. Fights off tiredness to queue for autographs at the Stage Door.


8. The actor with a mate in the cast

The newer the show, the more likely is a sighting of the actor with a mate in the cast. Not necessarily a fan of musicals, unless he’s in them. Even if he hates the show, he’ll cheer ostentatiously so his mate can hear him and then go backstage afterwards and act his socks off. Late twenties, lean and scruffy.


9. The triple threat teen

By day this boy or girl studies acting, singing and dancing, but in the evening is to be found in the cheap seats of the Upper Circle hanging on every word, note and step. Big-eyed and hungry for his or her turn. Likes absolutely everything.


10. The matinee snoozer

The amplified music is deafeningly loud these days but it’s amazing what the matinee snoozer can sleep through. He’s not as young as he was and a day out in town must include a good lunch and they will insist on starting the show around the time of his regular postprandial nap.


Find out more about theatre, music and, well, everything at or get tickets for Cats, Memphis or Dirty Rotten Scoundrels and see all these creatures in their natural habitats.