Looking Back on a Year of Starry

There are a handful of musical theatre albums that can make me cry even though I've listened to them a hundred times. After listening to it for a year, I can confirm that "Starry" joins the likes of "Les Misèrables" and "Natasha, Pierre, and the Great Comet of 1812" in having a finale that will suddenly make me tear up out of the blue, no matter how many times I've heard it. 

The concept album for the new musical about Vincent and Theo van Gogh was released in January of 2020 and the deluxe physical CD was released just before Christmas. Last March, I wrote a review of the album, but watching the recent listening party on YouTube with the writers and some of the cast made me want to revisit it. 

Revisit writing about it, that is. I can honestly say that a week hasn't passed since the album's release that I haven't listened to it. When my best friend Lexi told me about the album just before it was released, I couldn't have conceptualized how important it would become to me. 

One of the last shows that I saw before coronavirus hit and shut down theatre was the "Mean Girls" national tour with Mariah Rose Faith as Regina. At the time, I was loving her vocals as Jo Bonger and was so excited to see her live. 

In April, I asked Lexi if she'd want to watch a StarKid show together over Skype since she's a fan and I'd never seen any of them. (What was I doing in high school? I have no idea.) Over the next couple of months, I ended up watching all of their shows and it was so exciting to see actors that I was familiar with on the "Starry" album like Dylan Saunders, Jeff Blim, Mariah Rose Faith, and Lauren Lopez in other shows. (I'm even now a patron of Lauren's on Patreon.) 

Matt Dahan and Kelly Lynn D'Angelo's music and lyrics have truly been the saving grace of my quarantine. The album helped pull me out of some quarantine-induced existential crises and was what I comforted myself with when I was in pain from a sudden small surgery I had in November. It's the thing that has encouraged me to continue to push myself as an artist, to dare to actually call myself "a writer," and even to foray back into creative writing after many years. 

The more I listen to this album, the more I find to appreciate in it, from musical motifs to small acting choices I hadn't noticed before. The way in which Kelly managed to weave in so many references to van Gogh's and Gauguin's art is amazing. I got a biography of Vincent and Theo for Christmas and I'm very excited to read it and find out all of the actual historical things that Kelly was able to include. 

In some ways, it's weird to think that there was a time before I knew "Starry." For me, the best shows are the ones that feel both fresh and exciting and somehow impossibly familiar when you discover them. I now consider "Starry" to be one of my top five favorite musicals of all time and I look forward to a day post-quarantine when I hopefully will get to see it onstage. 

My friends and family are likely very tired of hearing me talk about "Starry," but it's one of those shows that I knew was special as soon as I heard it but have only realized after a year with it just how magnificent it is. As a historian and an art history lover, having a musical that recognizes both Vincent van Gogh's brilliance and Theo van Gogh's work as well is so important to me. Despite the current state of theatre, I have high hopes that the show will have a long future and introduce many to its beautiful story, music, and lyrics. As the line goes, "Even in the dark, the road is bright." 

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