Differences between art forms are fascinating to me.
Reading and writing are my favorite things in the world, so literature is the art form that I understand best and relate to most. But I love looking at everything from dance, music, visual art, film…you name it. Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about musical theatre in particular. I find it incredible how it combines so many different art forms into something new. I thought I would share some reasons that I love musicals.
- Musicals are varied. They do not rely on one way to tell a story. They combine writing, music, dance, acting, and scenery. All these aspects come together into one coherent experience.
- They provide a master class in storytelling. Because they combine so many different forms, a good musical depends on every aspect of it to be in sync. This means that the arch of the story has to be strong and clear (something that some novels could benefit from…). This clarity can bring cohesiveness and helps make it easier for us to suspend our disbelief while we’re watching character randomly burst into song or dance.
- Musicals are very efficient. They can say more in less time than nearly any other art form. In a single song, we can learn everything we need about a character. Even film, which is very much about time, can’t say quite as much as musical theatre, because it doesn’t have as many tools that it can bring together.
- They are the ideal way to illustrate and/or show off the human voice, even more than music on its own. In a similar way to how dance illustrates what the human body can do, musical theatre illustrates what the human voice can do.
- Musicals are more interactive than most art forms. Every art form is interactive to some degree, but musical theatre is uniquely so. I mean, who hasn’t sung along to a Disney animated musical? Or tried to imitate Idina Menzel’s belting? Or rapped along with Lafayette?
- From a writer’s perspective, there is a lot to learn from musical theatre, particularly as it concerns characterization. Musicals are very good at introducing characters and making sure the audience cares about them.
I know that not everyone loves musicals, but I find that every time I listen to or go to see one, I come out with a smile, and having learned a little bit more about how to tell a compelling story.
What do you think about musicals?