19
May
15

Musicals

There is a fascination with musicals in the USA. We come to it honestly through music hall and burlesque. The unfortunate truth is that they’re popular and make money. What promises to come to Broadway is asfollows: American Physco, Groundhog Day, Tuck Everlasting, Heathers, and RebeccaIf it’s money-making film we should make it into a musical. 

 

No, actually we shouldn’t.

 

In doing a quick search as to what plays are being produced in New York there are three in development, and 4 revivals planned. The list of musicals,both new and revivals, are legion. For me this has a lot more to do with the commercialization of Broadway than anything else. We are not promoting the thinking man’s theatre to the out-of-towners.

 

Now let me be clear, I made my living for several years doing musical theatre, its hard work and these actors are just as committed to their craft as non-musical performers. Taking this into consideration, along with Equity’s decision to go against their voting base and demand a pay frame for 99-seat theatres that is unsustainable for those theatres, we see what is happening to the play in the US, and the news isn’t good. Most of the new work is coming from the UK, as good as that is, where are the American Playwrights? Why are we not hearing from them? We also have to realize that this new financial constraint on small theatres will make it twice as hard for emerging playwrights to get produced. We won’t even start on the subject of female playwrights getting produced.

 

We are distracted and sold entertainment in the form of musical theatre. We are not challenged to think, or to wrestle with current affairs; we are seduced into humming along and watching the big production numbers.  I always get Les Miserable or Evita thrown up to me as examples. How many people who see Les Miserable make the comparison bwetween the struggle within the story and what is happening in the outside world? Evita is a love letter to a tyrant; lovely music but she and Peron murdered thousands of their own people, it’s almost as good as Springtime for Hitler.

 

I have nothing against entertainment or musicals, but the balance has shifted and we are not challenging our audiences on a larger scale, we are not asking them to think. 

 

If we do our jobs well we can challenge and engage, without preaching, we can promote discussion, we can make trouble. We can stop placating and start provoking. According to the corporate producers there is no money in this, so it is up to the small theatres and the fringe theatres and independent theatre makers to keep up this tradition.

 

As someone who has produced I see the economic and understand that rent must be made, but I’m an artist first. I didn’t follow a career in theatre for the money. I followed and continue to follow theatre as my craft and as a way of communicating and starting a conversation with the audience. Yes, to entertain is a worthy thing but at what cost do we continue to drink the Disney Kool-Aid? We have big issues to face and address and its time we started to look at them through different lenses, before its too late.

Advertisements

0 Responses to “Musicals”



  1. Leave a Comment

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


RSS notes 4 stage blog

  • Interpretation July 10, 2017
        So I have responded to two blogs on this subject and felt like I needed to hash things out on my own turf. The subject has come up regarding several different productions and plays that I have either seen or directed myself. First I want to address two Shakespeare works that Jeremy Cole […]
  • Pride June 23, 2017
    As this is actually Pride month I want to reflect on the state of the community, because some ugly truths are surfacing and we need not only to address them but also to grow up a wee bit. I promise to go back to writing about the theatre but this feels too important.   The […]
  • The perks of cross casting April 6, 2017
    So no its not a fad its been going on since theatre started. There are many arguments and stances about how we cast regarding gender especially concerning Shakespeare. The Globe wants to do what they refer to as traditional or historical casting of the female roles If they stayed true to historic accounts they would […]
  • What is our role? January 27, 2017
    As artists and builders what is our role in the current world order with fascism on the agenda for America and across Europe? Do we play our instruments and entertain as the ship sinks or we are marched to the camps? There are many who do not want to cause trouble they see their role […]
  • Drag in Theatre and Performance August 8, 2016
    What is the definition of Drag? According to Wikipedia it is as follows: A drag queen is a person, usually male, who dresses in drag and often acts with exaggerated femininity and in feminine gender roles. Often they will exaggerate certain characteristics such as make-up and eyelashes for comic, dramatic or satirical effect. While drag […]

%d bloggers like this: