Is it just me, or do musicals seem to be having a bit of a renaissance?

I guess they've always been popular in New York and London, with endless shows running for months on Broadway and the West End, but musicals seem to be enjoying greater popularity in New Zealand than they have in years.

Highly acclaimed classic rock 'n' roll musical Jersey Boys is just about to finish a record-breaking ten week run at the Civic Theatre on Sunday, and is the first musical to run that long in eight years.

Next up we've got Disney's production of Mary Poppins arriving in October. It has grossed more than $600 million worldwide so far, most recently breaking box office records in Australia, so it's bound to give Jersey Boys a run for its money.


We've also got the movie musical Rock Of Ages opening this week, Tom Cruise showing off his 80s glam rock moves alongside Catherine Zeta-Jones. And Les Miserables (arguably the most successful musical of all-time), looks set to be a pretty big deal when it's released in Hollywood movie format this December, with Anne Hathaway, Hugh Jackman and Russell Crowe in starring roles.

It's almost as if musicals are becoming cool. Wolverine is keen to be in one - surely that ups the cool factor? Daniel Radcliffe (aka Harry Potter) has been showing off his chops on the West End, and even Sacha Baron Cohen (aka Ali G, Borat or the Dictator) is getting involved (he's in Les Mis too).

Plus, they've made Spider-Man into a musical - a $75 million musical, which makes it the most expensive one ever made.

Even Lady Gaga's getting into musical stage show territory with her elaborate sets and costumes, and somewhat unfathomable storylines.

There's plenty of you out there who will probably insist that musicals are the exact opposite of cool.

Glee-like young folk belting out songs, all melodramatic, dressed in ridiculous costumes, over-pronouncing their lyrics and playing out fanciful stories possibly grinds your gears (and your ears).

But it's not always about annoying types dressed in sequins.

I remember the first musical I ever went to, courtesy of my grandma, around the age of 9, was the rather dark, and surreal Cats. After half-time, having taken up my seat again, icecream in hand, the various "cats" emerged from nooks and crannies among the audience and one came crawling along all the knees of everyone in my row, and took a cheeky lick of my icecream.

You don't get that kind of experience at the movies.

That's not to say I don't love films - special effects, CGI and 3D glasses make just about anything possible - and make everything seem impossibly real.

But in an age where we consume so much of our entertainment through a screen, seeing someone fly through the air or dance on a ceiling, or hearing someone sing a beautiful ballad, for real, right in front of you, on a stage, can be quite an involving experience.

So sure, the cheesy Abba tunes of Mamma Mia may not be for you, but maybe the spectacle of Spider-Man, or The Lion King might be your thing. Or it could be the old-fashioned tale of a father struggling to connect with his kids, saved by a nanny and a chimney-sweep.

So give it a whirl, head along and marvel at people who can somehow belt out a pitch-perfect tune while being swung around in a harness. You might find it quite entertaining.

- TimeOut