The Fight Against Cynicism And Musical Myth
| By Harriet Wilson
How often is it that you find yourself battling to defend the good name of Musical Theatre? Arguing that there really is more to it than The Sound of Music. Whilst the popularity of Hamilton has done something towards proving that musicals can be “cool”, the fight against the cynicism exuded from musical muggles remains an every day struggle. Here are five classic musical myths, and my advice on how to prove that they are completely and utterly wrong.
“People burst into song for no reason.”
There's always a reason (and, incidentally, a rhyme). What were Sandy and Danny supposed to do, talk to their friends about their Summer romances? I don't think so. If you're allowed monologues in plays, then why not add some music into the mix and liven the situation up a little? Besides, who would want to buy roses from somebody who just shouted “TWO BLOOMS FOR A PENNY”?
“Musicals are way too cheesy.”
*Insert a ream of cackle-like laughter.*
Right. They're waaaaaay to cheesy. Isn't that what we're all thinking, say, for the duration of Chicago? She shot her husband? Predictable. There's a giant plant trying to take over the world? I saw that coming. American independence? Okay, I really did see that one coming – but it's hardly a cheesy subject.
“Show tunes are just a group of people singing … really happily.”
*The laughter increases in both pitch and intensity.*
Can you imagine a group of people happily singing Stay Alive (Hamilton), or Not my Father's Son (Kinky Boots) … maybe Les Misérables would be a better place to start, with all its jovial group singing – I Dreamed a Dream, A Little Fall of Rain, On My Own, Empty Chairs at Empty Tables … need I go on?
Well, I'm going to anyway: The Movie in My Mind, and Maybe (Miss Saigon); the entirety of Rent, but particularly One Song Glory; Surrender (Sunset Boulevard); Endless Night (The Lion King); The Music of the Night (The Phantom of the Opera); I'm Not That Girl (Wicked) … I really could go on forever.
“Musicals don't talk about important issues.”
I completely agree with this one. Musicals only talk about shallow, unimportant issues – like the French Revolution (Les Misérables), American Independence (Hamilton), prejudice (Kinky Boots), AIDS and prejudice (Rent), the fall of Saigon (Miss Saigon) … We're in dire straits – can somebody please write a musical with depth?
“Famous actors / singers never do musicals.”
I am sure that Beverly Knight (currently starring in The Bodyguard), and Pixie Lott (playing the lead in Breakfast at Tiffany's) would agree. Not to mention Sheridan Smith (Funny Girl) … And, if we were to look back a little, we might notice names such as Imelda Staunton (Gypsy) and Glenn Close (Sunset Boulevard) on the scene as well. And that is only to mention a very select few.
On the other hand, who actually cares if the people on stage are “famous” for off-stage work? Everybody knows that the most talented performers end up in theatre, right?
Have you been bombarded with more mythical madness? Let me know what the cynics have been saying to you by tweeting @Harri_L_002, and I'll do my best to dispel some of the myths in my next blog.