I’m going to say something that may be seen as quite controversial in the musical theatre world. Okay here it goes… I’m not a big fan of serious musicals.
Now hear me out (I can already hear some of you sharpening your pitchforks), I love Les Misérables as much as the next person and you’ll probably hear me belting out the lyrics to it once and a while.
However, what annoys me is when I constantly hear some MT die-hards putting down musicals that are happy or upbeat. Many argue that they are frivolous and meaningless or that they lack depth but who said musical theatre ever had to be serious? These ridged views can lead to whole eras of content, particularly those produced in the 50s, being regarded as inferior to the more dramatic or ‘deep’ musical.
And don’t get me started on how many times I’ve been lectured about how a jukebox musical isn’t a ‘proper’ musical. Please just let me enjoy my pop tunes in peace!
Personally, as an active theatregoer I seek escapism from reality and look for an addictive love story (I confess to being a romantic at heart). Forgive me, but I’d much rather use my time in the theatre forgetting about my issues and listening to some show tunes than crying my eyes out because half of that cast have died. Right now, you could give me the option of watching any musical in the world but if Seven Brides for Seven Brothers is in the mix, you can bet what I’ll be watching. Why? Because there’s no seriousness or drama, just a soundtrack to die for and a great storyline – oh yeah and a cast full of devastatingly handsome men.
There have been situations where I have been engaging with other musical geeks and had them physically roll their eyes when I have told them I’m not a big fan of Miss Saigon because it’s just too heavy to watch. Not to say that I don’t think that the queen of theatre Lea Salonga did an amazing job as Kim, it just wasn’t my personal favourite and that should be okay. We all have that one song, musical or even composer that we don’t like for one reason or another and different tastes are what makes the musical theatre world so diverse. There are so many different genres and types of musical out there which means that everybody gets to enjoy the experience of theatre.
How about we just celebrate and enjoy musicals without getting into pointless arguments about which one is better.
Photo: Playful Productions, Helen Maybanks