The dashing John Barrowman before he sold out
So this week I was introduced to the wonderful world of Spotify. I thought it was going to be another of these last.fm type deals where everything caters for emos and my little sister. Boy, was I wrong. I started off by searching a few things that they probably would have, easy things like Hair and Les Miserables but then I got more and more adventurous. I looked up Raul Esparza and Hunter Foster and got linked up to some great albums. I decided I wanted to seriously test this system to see how far I could go. Fair enough, no Imagine This although I don't think the album is actually out yet but yes to Marguerite (obviously I didn't select any of Ruthie Henshall's many god-awful ballads) and an even more excited yes to A Class Act (I may blog about this in the future). Hell, I even added the original Starlight Express album just so I could giggle at the penis references in "He Whistled at Me".
And then I found it. The Fix. Original London Cast. 1997. Oh My God. Anyone who has the superb "Hey Mr Producer!" DVD has caught a glimpse of this show, it was that bit where a plaid shirt clad John Barrowman plays air guitar with his leg. Anyone who (like me) has been slightly more curious may have found the four videos on youtube (the air guitar song, topless-John-Barrowman-song, John-Barrowman-ballad-song and song-without-John-Barrowman. Yes, I did make those titles up.). Well I was hooked by the small snippet on the DVD, it was a pre-smug John Barrowman singing a catchy song with a real rock band! See, there are more rock musicals than you think!
The Fix ran for a few months at the Donmar Warehouse in 1997 (damn it, I still need to get to the Donmar, although they haven't done any exciting musicals for a while). Unfortunately I would have been nine years old at the time, a tad young for the subject matter. Hmm, subject matter, rather important for a show. The Fix is based around the life of JFK (but shh don't tell anyone) as young Cal Chandler is thrust into the political limelight by a power hungry mother and uncle after his father dies. He falls into bad habits such as drugs, ex-strippers and the mafia. Can you guess what happens at the end?
Mmm...plaid shirts... 1990s chic
The Fix was a Sam Mendes production, so featured a few quirky production values such as the whole thing taking place within a metal cage. I guess this is a metaphor for the way Cal is imprisoned within the political system and its corruptness. Aside from John Barrowman, The Fix boasts Australian stalwart Phillip Quast and Kathryn Evans (currently starring as Norma Desmond in Craig Revel Horwood's Sunset Boulevard. If I weren't so busy with a chemistry degree I could have interviewed and we could have had a lovely conversation about The Fix, which most interviewers wouldn't know about- ha!). So that's the awesome cast, the story was stolen from someone else so that wasn't too shabby. I like the music, its a nice mixture of rock anthem with more lyrical patter type songs and a few nice ballads thrown in. Personal favourites include the aforementioned "One Two Three" which is just lots of fun and allows me to use my leg as a guitar when it comes on Spotify, and Child's Play, a haunting ballad about the mistakes Cal has made in his life.
I wasn't around the theatre scene at the time so I don't know why The Fix doesn't have more of a legacy. Maybe it was just one of those limited engagements at the Donmar or (as is the case for many serious musicals) it couldn't find an audience. There was a recent production of it by Mountview, I did intend to go but I got bogged down with costumes, publicity and labwork. It was also all the way in bloody Deptford.
Next time can someone please do it a bit nearer so I have an excuse to see it? And could I possibly have been born ten years earlier? In the mean time I'll just have to go back to finding musical theatre gems on Spotify.