Being a person who loves musicals (most, because I can’t say all–that’s being presumptuous), I often deal with people who aren’t as…shall we say…passionate about them as I am.
I’m fine with this.
But as I was talking to a friend last night about musicals, a friend who I grew up with but haven’t been able to really spend a significant amount of time with since before college, I realized that I know far more people like this than I thought.
I’m one of those people that is pretty much an open book. Obviously. I feel like stating this might in fact be completely and utterly unnecessary. But I realize too that because I do this myself–overshare, talk quickly with my hands and make grand gestures and weird facial expressions and get super pumped with very little stimuli–a small part of me also expects other people to do the same.
And the thing is, sometimes they don’t. Sometimes, even my closest friends confide in me things about themselves years down the road or maybe are comfortable with not filling the silence and here I’ve been, the whole time, wide open for the world to see.
But what does that have to do with musicals??? Good question.
I feel like–and maybe I’m wrong–that musicals are easily one of the most easily misunderstood art forms. You have things like painting or sketching or drawing, art that is very visual and physical and relies very much on the interpretation of the viewer, as well as the intent and imagination of the artist.
You’ve got movies and television, which rely on the direction and lighting and scriptwriting and acting and everything else, and the people that fulfill these jobs have to be tuned into the subtle nuances of performance and perspective. They have to see everything from all angles and figure out the best one.
With musical theatre, it can sometimes be difficult to see the real life in it. I say this because the conversation I had yesterday with a friend, who shall here remain unnamed, basically walked this line. I was discussing musicals, as per my usual, and she expressed her opinion that it has always been difficult for her to watch musicals and take them seriously for one reason:
She feels like the singers, no matter how talented, are showing off.
I thought this perspective was interesting, to say the least. Isn’t being talented in their job description? I thought perhaps that she would say that she couldn’t get behind the whole “breaking into song at a moment’s notice” thing. But that was a non-issue.
Really, her problem was that she feels there are many talented people who don’t call attention to themselves or their talent, therefore never achieving the kind of status as those who actively participate in professional theatre.
This isn’t a thought I’ve ever had. Ever.
However, performing my due diligence as the musical friend, we continued to talk about it. And I realized that because I am so open with my loves, my passions, my vices. Because I’m me and no one else. Because I don’t see the point in hiding, I give others the opportunity to have conversations that they would never have. And then, if I’m good enough, I’m able to talk about the thing about musicals that makes them, for me, one of the most profound experiences a person can have.
And those are what I like to call little human moments.
There are a lot of definitions out there about what it means to be human and I’m not sure I agree with any of the above when it comes to musicals. The closest I would say would be words like “mortal” and “tolerant” and “humane.”
I talked in a previous blog post about the humanity of theatre and how the performances can touch on what makes people…people. Musical theatre explores the human experiences, all the joy and the pain and the hurt and the beauty and the humor and all of that. Musical theatre, if done well, can touch the heart.
And what I love about being the musical friend is that I’m always the one talking about how musicals make me feel. I’m always the one who can find the one moment in a musical, even a bad one, that shines and somehow captures a rare glimpse into our own humanity.
I’m not sure if that makes sense or if that was a little existential for today, but I do know that my job is to share my passion with the world. And so that’s what I’m going to do.
Until next time…