Unless, perhaps, you’re a parent being made to listen to Frozen songs on a loop, there are not many people that don’t enjoy a musical. Whether it’s on stage with your local am-drams, on Broadway, at a West End theatre, or a movie version, we all have a soft spot for musicals – What’s not to like about a hero’s journey filled with song and dance?
What is it about a story set to music that gives us all the feels? These 9 reasons to love musicals may just provide the answer…
1. Musicals are made for a singalong
Showtunes are typically designed for a good old singalong, and there is nothing better than a song to which you can sing at full belt, no matter how awful a singer you are. How many of you have screamed out “Defying Gravity” and been so absorbed that you were sure you’d be able to fly by the time the song was over? NO!! Your hairbrush microphone could tell another story!
2. Musicals are an escape from day to day life
We enjoy musical theatre precisely because it suspends disbelief. It’s trying to be realistic (as theatre often is), and then all of a sudden someone breaks into song. We imagine a perfect world in which people are free to express their every thought and feeling without fear of repercussion. We all wish, deep down, that we might spontaneously burst into song at the supermarket, on the busy train home, or in the doctors waiting room.
3. Musicals bring emotions to life
There’s something particularly potent about using song and dance to convey feelings. A memorable chorus or a foot-stomping, swinging dance number can give expression to an emotion in a way that strikes a chord instantly. Emotional responses to music begin at a young age. There are some songs and lyrics that become indelible parts of our own soundtrack: a ballad that perfectly captures the pain of a breakup, a barn-storming anthem that incites an exultant surge of blood and warmly recalls a personal triumph. The genius of musical theater’s composers and lyricists distills the complete range of human emotion, from joy to heartbreak, into tightly wound three-minute explosions.
4. Musicals can help us deal with difficult situations
Then there’s the feel-good aspect of being entertained. But that’s not the whole story. Even though their stories are presented in a lighthearted way, they still deal with serious issues. There is anguish, sorrow, loss, and struggle. There is a lot of cruelty, misery, and unfair treatment in the world. It’s understandable to worry that putting them to music may dilute them, but it would be missing the point entirely.
5. Musicals are like therapy
Broadway showtunes provide solace, contentment, emotional release, and a means of feeling your own way through challenges in a world when so much is wrong and nothing goes one’s way. Listening to a musical is a surefire way to perk up your mood. If you’re looking for something more profound and enlightening, there’s Sondheim, the only way to solve your troubles is to blast some Les Miserables or Rent. Searching for the makings of optimism. You should listen to Rodgers & Hammerstein. Need to get your confidence in check? Sing “Don’t Cry for Me, Argentina” like Patti Lupone on the nearest balcony, fire escape, or deck. There is a remedy for every perplexing feeling and difficulty you may encounter. A musical number is less expensive than therapy.
6. Musicals bring out the diva in all of us
From Julie Andrews to Idina Menzel, the better the talent, the more people gather around their performances, and the musical theatre stage is the only place in the entertainment world where this has ever been the case. The fact that you can catch your favourite actors and actresses in person and maybe even score a signature after the play is just icing on the cake.
7. Musicals are binge-able (just like Netflix!)
The matinee performance is essential for those of us who want to see as many musicals as possible but can only afford to see one or two at a time. You can spend a weekend in London seeing a show every night, including Friday night, and still be home in time for an early night on Sunday. That’s because there are two shows on Saturday and one on Sunday. If you’re going to do anything, you might as well do it big style, and matinee shows are a perfect example of this.
8. Musicals are “must see”
When you buy a ticket to a musical, you’re investing in a one-of-a-kind experience that only you (and the other people in the audience!) will ever have. The magnificent transience of the stage, the fact that a cast may make the smallest or largest of changes to their vision, make musical theatre a medium that is important, fascinating, and totally crucial.
9. Musicals are quite simply magic being made
Seeing a musical performed is like witnessing the impossible. It’s unlike anything else in the world of entertainment media. Simply put, there is nothing more magical than being a part of a live performance because of the inherent goodness of being entertained, the joy, and the whimsy that come from the creativity generated by so many individuals sharing their self expression and collaboration, so many ideas, all crashing on the same stage, powered by the energy of a live audience.
Without a doubt, when words fail or language hurdles intervene, we can still communicate through movement and song. It reaches us on a more fundamental level, and our natural ability to communicate and express ourselves via dance and music begins to emerge long before we can put words to these experiences. It stands to reason that children would watch and sing along to their beloved musicals endlessly. Many of us, in fact, never get over that – Musicals have allowed generations to share the experiences of their favourite characters: Eliza Doolittle from My Fair Lady, Dorothy Gale from The Wizard of Oz, Fagin from Oliver!, and Fantine from Les Misérables. To paraphrase Hugh Jackman’s ringmaster, “the greatest show” best describes a wonderful musical.