Musicals represent a magical world which is not like our real world that we live from day to day. Therefore, experiencing a musical is an escape into a different, more interesting, more sonically beautiful place.
Musicals are best viewed in the theatre. They tend not to work as well in film - because our expectation of film is that it is a more realistic expression.
Musicals require a certain amount of freedom to imagine worlds which are unlike our own. They inhabit a world of heightened passions and heightened emotions where people are thrust into song by the events of the play.
This freedom gives musicals some wonderful advantages over other forms of storytelling.
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What is the key to this magical place?
First, SONG allows for a more emotional exploration of the character’s inner feelings and the song in a musical is like a close-up in a movie. How does that happen?
When you get a movie close-up, you see small emotional changes in the actor’s face, and these communicate emotion. On stage, there is no such thing as a close up.
The audience sees an actor on stage who is hundreds of feet away. How do you do a close-up?
A SONG is a fantastic way to do a close-up on stage. They sing their emotions and you get a close-up view of what the character is feeling - through music - which you would be unable to get in the same way as a movie close-up. And because it is a musical, you accept that they can sing about their feelings (because that’s what songs are - they are people singing about emotions).
And finally, musicals are amazing at expressing ‘the will of the community’.
How can a work of art express the feeling of a group of people?
Musicals do this by having actors singing as a group (a chorus). This gives voice to the community in such a powerful way that is practically impossible in any other medium.
All artwork, to some extent, requires you to relax a bit and enter the world being presented to you.
To enjoy a musical, you must agree to enter this heightened, emotional sonic world and accept it as ‘truth’....for about 90 mins!