Sunday, February 26, 2012

Tanz and Fans

I saw the Finnish version of Tanz der Vampire in Seinäjoken kaupunginteatteri yesterday again, for the fourth time. My last time.

That's a shame. I love Tanz. After seeing it for the first time, I rushed back the next week, I was that impressed. It's the most entertaining musical I've ever seen. What's more, the Seinäjoki production is so filled with insanely talented people that it's been pure joy to watch, every time.
The production closing is a shame for another reason, too.
Continuing the trend Wicked started, though with an even grander force... Tanz seems to have a huge fanbase, by Finnish standards at least. It's a musical that gathers fans wherever it's being produced, and I'm glad it's been brought here. I find it really nice that the standard Finnish way of going to theatre - the buses full of often uninterested senior citizens (I've heard of a play's start being postponed because they had to wait for a bus of seniors stuck in the traffic) - is changing a little, at least in some cases.

During the last few months, the ÅST Les Mis started gathering a small fandom. A small fandom: doing a headcount of the fellow fans I know, eight people. Seeing I can't know everybody, I guess it's safe to suppose the production had about twenty big fans by the end.
This Saturday alone, at least twenty big Tanz fans gathered in Seinäjoki. Probably more. Just sitting in my seat, I was surrounded by fans: behind me sat a kid with his mother who had seen the show four times. Next to me, a guy who had been there seven times. Chatting with them cheered up my day. Normally, strangers don't talk to each other in theatre (or anywhere else, for that matter) in Finland, but yesterday, it was surprisingly easy. "How many times have you seen this?" turned out to be a great conversation-starter!
What makes this, in my opinion, extraordinary, is that yesterday was just a normal day. It wasn't the last show or anything, just a standard matinee performance. With probably a half of the audience seeing the show not for the first time. Some with vampire makeup.

Talking to a couple of fans during the intermission, and just looking around, keeping my eyes and ears open... I'm actually a bit sad that I'm not a full-time member of the group. It seems like a fun fandom to be a part of!
I've seen Tanz and I appreciate it, but I don't love it in the same way I love Les Mis. That's also why I've been distracted from it. By normal people standards, four times is already a lot - but if Les Mis didn't exist in Finland at the same time as Tanz, I'd probably done twice as many visits to Seinäjoki during these past few months. As it it, however, I don't feel I'm involved enough to call myself a huge fan: I haven't seen any other productions, I don't have clear knowledge about actors who have played the roles before. I just enjoy the Finnish version. And even then - I haven't even drawn proper fanart of it...
Despite that, I'm in a state of refusal about having seen the show for the last time. Yesterday was, performance-wise too, the best time I've ever had seeing the musical. I want more! I feel there's still a lot for me to discover. I'd need a couple times more to observe all the details and then a couple more to think about what they actually mean.
But, unless a miracle happens, Tanz'll close next month. We got to keep the ÅST Les Mis for a year and a half. I've a feeling Tanz would have what it takes to keep going just as long, and probably longer. People from all around Finland were present yesterday, it's not as if only people who live near Seinäjoki come to see the show. And still, Tanz's fans can't even have one full season.
I don't know about you, but this seems unfair to me.

Dear Tanz fans, scream a little on my behalf in the derniere, too?

Picture from Seinäjoen kaupunginteatteri's website.
My review of the Seinäjoki Tanz: click!


  1. I think there are no requirements for being a Tanz fan; if you are one, then you are, regardless of if you can name the person who played Alfred's understudy in 2005 or not. I feel Finnish musical fans are one big group, anyway, and should stick together, even if we/they prefer some musical more than some others. :)

    It was great to meet you!

    1. I should've been more clear - I think I qualify as a Tanz fan, but not as a part of the fandom. That requires being more involved, I feel...
      But true that - Finnish musical fans are, in a way, one big fandom!

      You too! :)

  2. I only discovered this musical a couple of months back but I absolutely love the German soundtrack (Steve Barton's voice <3). I hope to see it on stage at some point.
    I've been hearing really positive comments about the Finnish production from other people as well. They actually do make really great musical theatre in Finland. It's a shame that it's not particularly accessible to foreigners due to the language (and I think this is one of the reasons why Finnish musicals and plays often have short runs: it is only seen by Finns, not tourists who are the chief reason for the long runs of some West End and Broadway shows) but it seems to me that these Broadway and West End hits are gaining popularity in Finland. I'm especially glad that they encourage the younger generation to go to the theatre.

    1. I'm hooked on the cast recordings, too. I've two, and I keep looping them, all the time... :D

      I feel sad for you, and for many of my friends, actually, who don't get the chance to see the Finnish Tanz! It's truely a production worth seeing...
      But yep, that makes sense. I know some people who have come to see theatre in Finland from other countries, but if Helsingin kaupunginteatteri for example subtitled their shows, maybe they'd have more foreigners in the audience? Then again - Svenska Teatern is following in National Opera's footsteps and will subtitle Kristina från Duvemåla in Swedish, Finnish and English. Maybe that'll become a more common practice soon!

  3. I'm hoping for another version, too! It'd be a lot of fun to see how different interpretation some other theatre could make of this!