How can you know about Broadway and about music theater on Broadway if you have never been in New York and never seen even one Broadway musical?
NEVER SEEN EVEN ONE MUSICAL ON BROADWAY IN NEW YORK.
That sentence boggles my mind.
I guess if you have seen a good professional quality “Broadway” show in your closest big city or town, with a cast that has substantial credits from New York, LA or London, or perhaps from Chicago or some other big city, then that would be better than nothing, but if you have never BEEN IN such a show yourself or at least been in a show with someone else who was, you wouldn’t be privy to the “lore” of theater. You wouldn’t know “what’s done” that isn’t written in any book. You wouldn’t have the experience of learning by being in the world of theater people (a special and unique experience). As is true in any field, when you “live the life” you pick up things by osmosis. You hear things and see things you couldn’t encounter anywhere else. Is there a substitute for that? I don’t think so. School, however, absolutely does not qualify.
These days, because there is so much influence from “outside” throughout “show business” and “entertainment”, you can easily find people directing, producing, and yes, “starring in” musicals even on Broadway who have NO experience of any kind in music theater, and likely no training. This is supposed to be a good thing, bringing in “fresh ideas” and “new audiences”, but only once in a while is that true. More often than not these people have no clue what’s good and what’s lousy because they have no background. They stick out and the productions they effect stick out as being less than wonderful. Chicago, for example, cares not who walks on that stage, so long as the person has a “name”. I’ve seen some pretty awful performances in that show, but it makes money, so the producers don’t care. Other people in the business, however, have very different opinions. It’s as if you ask people who have grown up exclusively eating cheeseburgers and cokes to create the menu in a gourmet restaurant. Cheeseburger a la mode anyone?
I have seen musical productions here in the New York City area, at some of our institutions of higher learning, where students were being trained in “music theater” programs, where most of the faculty had little or no music theater experience, and I have been unsurprised, but nevertheless disappointed, to find these performances very lackluster, unmusical or just plain unprofessional. If you spend upwards of $200,000 to send your child to a four-year training program that professes itself to be professional in calibre and your child was directed in a musical by someone who couldn’t sing, had never sung, didn’t know music, was not musical, and had no experience being in a music, but was nevertheless the person in charge of the program, would you be happy about that? Cheeseburger a la mode anyone?
If you are someone who has never bothered to come to New York City or go to London to see a genuine, real, actual Broadway or West End musical, and you also teach music theater songs to your students, I strongly advise you to get on a plane and get to one of these two places with enough money to see as many musicals as possible right away. I also urge you to purchase all the DVDs of Broadway performances that you can find and watch them. You can’t count watching movie musicals unless they are actual replications of the show (like “The Producers”), as they bear little or no resemblance to their staged counterparts.
All the telltale marks of those who do not know show up in the performances of their unfortunate students who come to New York not knowing they have been trained inadequately. The vocal and musical behaviors that belong in professional music theater could be completely absent. You can tell these students immediately, as soon as you hear them, and you will know right away — “teacher was classical”. Over-pronunciation of the consonants, very abrupt pitch changes at all times, more emphasis on vocal production than on conveying the meaning of the lyrics, singing a song in head register that was meant to be belted, standing absolutely still from the shoulders down, as if the singing came from the neck and head alone, etc. I see this over and over. If you actually GO to a Broadway musical, even just an “Encores” presentation that has no set or costumes, you will not EVER see these things or hear them, in the people up there on stage.
Some people have never seen even one musical on Broadway, and THEY TEACH MUSIC THEATER!!!
No, I don’t like cheeseburgers a la mode.