My family is just not a musical family.
And I don’t mean that we don’t like or play music; there’s a cellist and singer, a guitar player, a drummer and uh… after several attempts with recorder, violin and saxophone, I now make mix tapes. And we all love music: my mom’s into classical, my dad is a Delta Blues Man with an inspiring knowledge of everything cool, my brother still believes in Brit Pop and I’m a Pitchfork Media Poster Child (including the goth-punk history).
Okay, so what I’m trying to say is that nobody in my family likes musicals. For years, while I was living in NYC, whenever my mom would visit, we’d make halfhearted attempts at getting tickets for Broadway shows – always opting to do something else instead.
So when we talked on the phone about the musical Hinterm Horizont (beyond the horizon) by quintessential Hamburg rocker Udo Lindenberg, we decided quickly to just order tickets online right away and just go for it.
Hinterm Horizont tells the “only in Berlin” love story of the West German big mouth musician and an East Berlin girl who cannot be together because of the wall.
So we probably would have done the same thing if we could have gotten tickets to 42nd Street when it opened on 42nd Street / Broadway back in the day.
This Sunday my mom came to Berlin and we made an evening of it. And you know what? Seeing the musical was awesome!
At first the dialogue and acting seemed a little low-brow and on the nose – but once the music and dancing kicked in, it was a really fun ride. The music by Udo Lindenberg is mostly straight-up rock music, which they didn’t “musicalize” too much I thought. After hearing what they did to the Green Day music for the musical American Idiot – I expected similar changes.
There were also a lot of ballads and the usual dance sequences. Oh, and if you go, bring ear plugs. Seriously, I didn’t expect it to be as loud as a rock concert – but it almost was.
The story is of course a little emotional, in part because it’s a tragic love story told in flashback from the perspective of the East German girl who in the present time doesn’t seem to be dating the musician she had loved – but mostly because it’s a story about the divided city and country and how cruel, wrong and sad that was.
Udo Lindenberg was known in the 1980s for writing snarky songs about Germany’s division with lyrics directly addressing GDR Head of State Erich Honecker. So it only seems right that his music would lead to a musical about Berlin during that time. And to me Berlin would be the only place to watch this musical, which otherwise might not be so meaningful.
What gave that evening the special touch is that after the show Udo Lindenberg himself came out on stage and sang two encores with the cast. I wonder if he does that every night or if we just got lucky.
In a way, what I liked best about the whole piece was the use of original historic TV footage (projected on what looked like The Wall, which could be moved) of the Berlin Wall being put up and later conquered by the peaceful protesters – and all the faces of soldiers, families, children… It made me want to watch a documentary about The Wall. Can anyone recommend a good one?