Susan Boyle: The Global Ambassador of Good Will

If there ever was a Global Ambassador of Good Will, Susan Boyle, the woman who has wowed the world from her “Britain’s Got Talent” performance is it.

Ever since I saw the video, I’ve been enamored. First, there’s the song. Who hasn’t dreamed a dream of days gone by? The first time I saw “Les Miserables” I was living in Singapore. That musical seemed to seep into my pores. Hearing Susan Boyle sing reminded me of my first impressions, but more importantly, about what I think most world travelers know.

The world is filled with astounding people who surprise you when you have time to absorb the nuances of their lives. It might be the shopkeeper who puts fruit on a scale with a certain hand movement and a smile–or the way a woman sweeps a sidewalk in the early morning. It could be the way a group of school kids throw their arms around each other and tilt their heads back in laughter when they ask you your name. It could be that woman who could be age 40 to 80 who scoots over to make room for you to sit down on a bench. It’s hard to tell how old she is because her days are spent out in fields in the sun and wind. There’s something about the way she sits and how kind she behaves that is alluring.

Those people that attract us to them might be wearing threadbare clothes, have a tooth or two missing, and not have a decent pair of shoes, if any, but there is an essence about them that travel with us long after our taxi or bus has pulled away. When we go through our photos, we look for them–, and if we didn’t have our camera, wish that we had just in case the good feeling could be absorbed into a photograph so that we would have a prop to help us recall it at will.

Watching an inteview with Susan Boyle is a peek into a normal person’s life–the woman who might live in the house down the block or in the apartment on the third floor. She’s the one with the cat whose life seems to move through days like clockwork. If you stop by, she’ll invite you in for tea and you’ll feel comfortable and sane.

When we get busy about our days with billboards and TV commericals and the marketing of celebrity sameness, and stories about just what’s wrong, we can forget about what’s right. That a person like Susan Boyle can walk out on a stage, belt out a song with a triumphant lift of her arm during the high notes, and remind us just how great we can be. In today’s word, it’s also astounding that such a message can reach millions around the globe almost as soon as the magic begins. What better Global Ambassador of Goodwill is there?

Here’s a video I found with various shots of Susan Boyle in her world

And another one of her singing “Cry Me a River” that was published on a fundraising CD. Her performance wasn’t a fluke.

Antwerp, Belgium’s train station musical surprise: Everyone does The Sound of Music

Not since Improv Everywhere’s Food Court Musical have I been so pleased by a surprise musical number in a public place. This time the setting is Central Train Station in Antwerp, Belgium and the vehicle is Julie Andrew’s voice singing “Do A Deer” from The Sound of Music over the loud speaker. First, just a man and a young girl start to dance as if drawn in by the song. Gradually, the few become a crowd that exudes joy.

Although this singing and dancing number might have been inspired by Improv Everywhere’s antics, particularly Frozen Grand Central, this stunt is part of an ad campaign for a reality TV show. Regardless, the result is superb. This starts out slow and then builds as more and more people join in. I dare you to not hum a few bars.

Food court musical by folks who cooked up frozen Grand Central

A friend and I were looking through a few Improv Everywhere videos, the folks who created Frozen Grand Central, and loved this one so much we watched it twice and then showed it to others.

For anyone who has ever eaten in a food court anywhere in the world, imagine what it might be like if folks broke out into song, but not just any song–one that fit the location and the situation. This particular food court is in a shopping mall in Los Angeles.

One of the details I liked about this effort is the diversity of the entertainers, as well as, the audience members who had no idea what exactly was taking place as they chewed their food.

I loved the woman with the “baby.”

Can I get a napkin, please?

Oklahoma is O-K

L-A-H-O-M-A , Oklahoma! Yow!

The fact that the song Oklahoma is playing in my head at this moment is John Ur’s fault. Of course, I do still know a song medley of the musical by heart thanks to high school choir days, but over at Intelligent Travel, John Ur’s mention of the lyrics to “Oklahoma” in his post about movies filmed in this state, put me in a red gingham dress and cowboy boots looking for a surrey with fringe on the top.

When I read Ur’s post, I flashed back to my own Oklahoma experience sitting in the audience of an outdoor production of “Oklahoma!” This outdoor theater in Tulsa uses real horses and wagon and a building was set on fire. At least that’s what I remember. Discoveryland’s season runs June 6–August 16, so you still have time to plan your trip here.

This is a professional production with crowd pleasing appeal. It’s also kid-friendly. I only went to the main production, but you can add a western-style dinner and before show entertainment.

Les Misérables: Cross-cultural wonder

I saw Les Misérables the first time in Singapore when the touring company came through. There were Chinese subtitles of the lyrics projected on screens at the sides of the stage or across the top. I can’t remember which. Three of the cast members came to the school where I was teaching to talk with students about their lives as actors and about touring internationally. Afterwards, for a brief while, I had Les Mis fever. The symptoms being: the songs play over and over and over again in your head; you feel deliciously depressed and uplifted at the same time; and you feel like stopping repression somehow–somewhere–some way.

One of the wonderful things about living overseas is being a part of something that has universal appeal, even if it just means sitting in an audience. Here’s something that tops the feeling I had when I sat in the 12th row of the orchestra to the left of center stage.

For the 10th anniversary celebration of Les Misérables there was a concert at Royal Albert Hall that included 17 different Jean Valjeans from different countries, each singing a few lines of “Do You Hear the People Sing” and “One Day More” in their native language. I found it on YouTube. Watching it gave me a touch of Les Mis fever.