SAC Theatre ArtsFor me, I grew up around musical theatre. The singing, the dancing… All seemed normal to me. When I was young, I saw it more as entertainment. But, now I see that it has a deeper meaning.  Once you enthrall yourself into enough theatre you may find a show that you can connect with. My show is Stephen Sondheim’s “Company”. Never in my life had I felt more connected to a character, to a show, to music. This is what I tell all my acquaintances who dislike musicals: Just open your mind and let yourself become vulnerable to the show.

“I don’t think theater is dying, and musicals are a great American art form. We’ve got apple pie, jazz and musical theater.” ~Laura Benanti

Many people think that musicals are just pointless singing and dancing. Many do not realize there is a flexibility when it comes to musicals. They can be escapism musicals, being that people go to see it to forget real life problems. Or, they can be protest musicals, one of the most recent examples of musical protest is a “parody” youtube video where broadway stars got together to protest the Anti-gay laws in Russia. This video is a great example of how theatre can make a movement.

“The movie adaptations of stage musicals that I’ve seen, without exception, in my opinion don’t work. A lot of people would disagree with me.”
~Stephen Sondheim

I’ll be the first to admit that as much as I love some of the “movie-turned-musical” musicals, it is a bit of a cop-out to younger generations. As society becomes dumber, so do the musicals. What do we have today? King Kong, Motown, Rock of Ages, Aladdin, Spiderman. Musicals that have no substance. No meat. And, the shows that do have substance, shows that are amazing and visually pleasing are closed too early because no one would turn around and realize that that show was actually saying something. I am not saying that all shows on the Great White Way are bad. There are some choice few that do have substance and have survived. The Book of Mormon, for example is a smart musical disguised as a dumb one. Society rushes to get tickets because its written by the South Park writers but, when inside are given the message that “religion is all fake. Its just some man with a book making it up as he goes.” It is more musicals like that, that our world needs. Musicals that make us think. Musicals that make us feel.

“The dumbing down of the country reflects itself on Broadway. The shows get dumber, and the public gets used to them.”
~Stephen Sondheim

Yes, I realize that getting dressed up and going to the theatre is no longer “the norm” but, I really recommend it. Its an experience like no other. Behind it all, whether you like musicals or not, there is much beauty to this medium. These people are onstage living another life just for you and the few people around you. No one else can feel the way the show made you feel. No one else can feel if it changed something inside of you because and the end of the night the curtain drops, but the show goes on with you.

Here is a challenge: Watch a musical. You can go out and watch one, or look for one on Youtube. The point is, find a musical. Here are a few suggestions:

Sunday in The Park with GeorgeSAC Theatre Arts
Bare: a Pop Opera
Book of Mormon
In the Heights
Legally Blonde
Next to Normal
Spring Awakening

Watch the whole show through.  And, try and find a connection.  Come back and say how you connected with it! Is there a certain character you connected with? Or, if you have seen musicals live, what is one character you connected with and why?

Let me hear your story,

Diego Castro

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