Friday, December 14, 2012

IKEA: The Musical

Truly Invar: A Musical Tale of Furniture, or as I call it IKEA: The Musical, is a show everyone should watch. Even those who think musicals are stupid. Even my ex-stepson who once said while watching Paint Your Wagon  (for all of five minutes) "No cowboy is going to randomly burst into song. This is stupid!"

We watched it on TV while staying with Leif's father. I happen to see it listed one day while I was pretending to read the newspaper and remembered that we'd seen commercials for it. It was definitely a "must see" even with the language barrier.

Accompanied by a violin and a pump organ on stage left, it's all dancing and singing (no speaking at all) AND it's educational. Seriously, watching a man who resembles Lurch on the Addams Family sing and play  the organ while basically running as fast as he can (reminder: pump organ) for almost 2 hours is worth the time alone.

I learned all about IKEA. How it started (mail order), how it grew, and how it became blue and yellow (to prove just how Swedish the company really was). I was reminded that Sweden gave us dynamite and ABBA, Pippi Longstocking and Vikings (although I disagree with this. Norway gave us the Vikings, but this is an ongoing debate between Leif and myself. What the larger intellectual community has to say means little to us.) I learned that dynamite funded the first Nobel prizes but not from the show, from Leif. I hypothesized that IKEA is responsible for the abundance of cafeteria style restaurants in Sweden, and Leif didn't tell me I was wrong. Then again he didn't tell me I was right either. As depicted in the show, Swedes were aghast at the thought of customers getting their own food and paying at a central location, just as they were at the idea of customers finding their own things in a warehouse and bringing it to the cash register themselves. Obviously they've gotten used to the idea.

I learned all this from a bundle of dancing dynamite, a singing meatball and a host of other characters. I was particularly enchanted with a Viking sporting the traditional horned helmet, knee length braids AND a beard ala ZZ Top. Ingvar himself danced with a midsummer pole in a way that reminded me of Fred Astaire dancing with a coat rack. This really was an entertaining way to learn about Swedish history and culture, capitalism in Europe, politics and Swedish musical theater. Oh yeah, and about IKEA. Almost forgot that!

Of course at this point you'd have to watch it in Swedish, which makes it somewhat of a challenge but worth your personal struggle and the stress on your trusty translator. I think early next year they're coming out with an English version. I'm guessing it will lose something in the translation but I still recommend seeing it.

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