There are the hyped up ones, those that got away, those you wish you hadn’t bothered to catch an early train for, the ones you thought would be your next obsession,but weren’t; the long runners you might pop along to once every 12 months to check up on, and then there are the those that somehow grab you unawares and suck you in.
Let’s talk a little about those unassuming productions that pull at you; those productions for which you simply can’t rest until you’ve seen them again, and again countless times. These are the shows that pounce when least expected and sooner or later you’ll be trying to drag along friends, family, mere acquaintances; to hell with it you’d probably drag a complete stranger in off the street if you could get away with it!
There have been many plays and musicals (in London and on tour) where I’ve left thinking ‘I’d go again, I need to go again’ but do little to follow-up that feeling; perhaps a casual lottery entry, or 10, as in the case of Hamilton or a cursory look into tickets for a date six months ahead that when I see the price of tickets I feel I can’t justify the return. How then and for no real discernible reason can one production suddenly get you in it’s clutches when others can’t?
The causes and consequences of being a repeat attendee can be varied. In the extreme it starts with the show’s general feel good factor, the humour, escapism, interaction with cast on and off stage and the friends you make during its sojourn. Then, before you know it you’ve trekked around the country in the course of a year, the show ends and you’ve been left with a gaping hole that, if you think about it too much, is still there.
So you swear that none of that will happen again but you’re not entirely immune. Once again, and with the case of Our Ladies, you find a show and visit only couple of times because you came to it late. Then, and only then do you realise that you love it. You’d serial attend the show if only it was still there and constantly wish for it to be back in town for your own personal repeat visits. You know that if it were on during those times when plans change or when you couldn’t decide where else to go, you’d be there. BUT ITS TOO LATE!
Then one day at the very start of the new year you pop along to see a show that you (now regretfully) didn’t make the effort to see before it’s West End transfer, sit back and prepare to see a production that you know very little about, save for the songs. Then it hits you! You are fully aware that you’re back in repeat attendee mode. But why? The combination of book, musical arrangements and flawless performances is striking but that can be said for many other shows. Once again there’s something in this show that makes you feel a range of emotions, escapism, comfort and an ache that means the repeat visit won’t be a thing of the past, well for the three months that The Girl From the North Country is playing anyway.
It’s difficult, even for the repeat attendee, to understand and explain what makes your own choice of show to return to stand out from others that are currently drawing in their own repeat visitors. In fact I’m almost inclined to say that the production feels like its choosing the repeat attendee rather than the other way around! Certainly there is more than one show currently in the West End that I was convinced I would repeat visit but surprisingly have not felt the urge. Everyone has their own personal need that these productions go some way to meet. Don’t knock those serial attendees for you may indeed be bitten by the bug and have no real explanation for it!