Some things are either good or they’re not, and there’s no way you can buy “magic.”
Greta Morgan of Springtime Carnivore (as well as other projects such as Gold Motel, and, most notably, cult-level-status The Hush Sound) would be so inclined to agree. In her 2015 interview with Drops of Gold online magazine, Morgan spoke to Graham LeBron about the “magic factor.” Having recorded in both multi-million dollar studios and bed room studios with one microphone, She declared that there will “always be a ‘magic factor’ that that overrides the equipment used.” She’s not wrong.
Quality matters, but quality does not automatically equate to having the most money to throw into something.
Take heart, dear high schools, college and community theaters, this is good news for you: if you have the talent, if you have the heart, and if you (and this is the most important part), pour the effort and care to detail into something, it doesn’t matter at which tier it is being done. There have been some Broadway shows (revivals or otherwise) that had all the money in the world, but were colossal artistic disasters and lazy offerings, designed solely as cash cows, and made absolutely no effort to conceal it. The same can be said of the music industry--the quality of the studio and its equipment, the “Big Name” producers who work on it, and the millions in marketing poured into getting in on the radio and convincing the public that it’s the music they want doesn’t, well, actually make it any good if it’s not good to begin with. (The Prisonaires had hit records that were recorded from jail with a tape recorder; even consider Kate Bush’s Phoenix Demos).
Compare to regional productions of the same shows, or even high school performances, who have carefully mounted the undertaking of doing these shows because they love them. I’ve seen shows that haven’t even had costumes, and even mere readings, done by high school students, who were absolutely captivating, and I didn’t doubt they were who they were portraying for even a nanosecond. That is “it.” That is the magic factor.
Yeah, we all understand that Industry is just that--an industry and a business and all, blah-blah-blah, but if you’re not making a quality product as a multimillion dollar endeavour, maybe you should consider getting into a new one?
Much in the same vein, if your show needs a “star” and cannot run on its own merits and unknown talent therein, it probably isn’t that good of a show. If it doesn’t have the “magic factor,” it just doesn’t have it, and big names can’t save it.
Have no fear community, regional and school productions of iconic shows--if you have heart, you will have magic. If you are good, regardless of how much money your theatre company has or doesn’t, it will show. If you pour love and care into something, it will show. If it has magic, regardless of budget, then it will have magic. You’re amazing, and your art is valid.
May you all strive for that magic factor in all your endeavours, artistic or otherwise.
(Final Note: just because someone is Equity and someone else isn’t, it doesn’t make the Equity person more talented than the Non-Equity. There are very many Non-Equity actors who are incredibly talented--on par with Equity “level” talent, if not better in many cases-- and who simply haven’t made their transition over yet for their own personal reasons, and some of them have the greatest “magic factor.”)