Ten things I’ve learned from musical theatre

Note: I used to hate musical theatre; I’m trying to grow to understand it.

  1. The song in any musical is most powerful when it clarifies the singer’s want or emotion. You might think it’s cheesy, but try not to cry when you hear “On My Own“, “Somewhere That’s Green“, or my personal tear tsunami, “Sunrise Sunset.”
  2. Everybody in a musical has a “want”, and they live or die by what they want. Seymour just wanted to get out of Skid Row, and his strange and unusual plant is his ticket to freedom. Max Bialystock wants to make profit by shady business practices and loving old ladies. Timon and Pumba just want to hang out and eat grubs.
  3. If you are an innocent kid, there is a good chance that your mom might get sick and die or your dad might be stampeded by wildebeests. It’s ok, it builds character.
  4. A lot of people in musicals are crass or foul mouthed. Because musicals come from New York, and New York is like that all the time. They just think it’s normal.
  5. It’s kinda funny to see a group of attractive, physically fit people on stage playing foul, depressed, and often impoverished masses because they are wearing jaunty caps, ripped shirts, or have some dirt on their impossibly high cheekbones.
  6. My mom used to like taking us kids to musicals as a treat. Sometimes she still does…we went to see The Producers a while ago. It’s better to see something live, but more acceptable to cry in private.
  7. If you judged real life by the content of most musicals, you would assume that most people live in New York city, are 30-something, and just want an opportunity to sing or dance. If they have to fight, they do it through dancing.
  8. If you are a woman or a gay man, the default assumptions are that you like musical theatre and know all the words to “Part of Your World.”
  9. If you are a straight man, the default assumptions are that you hate musical theatre and know all the words to “Are You Ready For Some Football?” As Glee, High School Musical, and NPH  have taught us, musicals aren’t just for gays anymore.
  10. When you sing and dance honestly, you are opening yourself up and making yourself vulnerable. Musicals resonate with people because they cut to the chase, emotionally. There’s no dialogue or pointless exposition in the songs…just raw emotion.

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