Welcome To Theatre
“Have you seen Billy Elliott? 9 to 5? Dirty Dancing?” These questions raise a counter-question: “The movie or the musical?” There is no longer a strong line between the film and the stage. We’re seeing numerous stories crossing the line between the silver screen and the boards of Broadway. There has always been a unification between the arts: literary, visual, graphic, performing. Theatre and film have always incorporated all of these.
Musical movies have been around since Gordon McRae and Shirley Jones first expressed their love for each other in both Oklahoma! and Carousel. Musical films may have gotten a little darker with the advent of Chicago, Rent, and Sweeney Todd, but they still capture the interest of moviegoers. Why is there such a fascination with the silver tones of the silver screen? What makes a musical movie-worthy? Is it the book?
It’s not just the big screen that has developed the musical element. Shows have introduced musical episodes. Buffy, Scrubs, Daria, Xena has two musical episodes, and let’s not forget the numerous musical numbers to be found on the Simpsons, South Park, and Family Guy, some of which are taken directly from Broadway itself.
Musicals have often taken their stories from books. That practice has continued through to more recent shows such as the widely popular show, Wicked, which is based on the book of the same name by Gregory Maguire. Books, however, have taken a backseat to movies as the basis for new musicals. 9 to 5 and Billy Elliott are on Broadway, Dirty Dancing is on tour, and Sister Act is onstage in London. All of these musicals started as movies. Now, granted, there are many movies that are also based upon books: Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, My Sister’s Keeper, etc. Even Lord of the Rings enjoyed the time as an onstage musical.
The youthful world has captured the stage as well. Disney got a foothold in the Broadway scene when they introduced Beauty and the Beast. Now, they’re firmly established with The Lion King, The Little Mermaid, and Mary Poppins. The Grinch Who Stole Christmas is a holiday show that appears every December. Oh, and let’s not forget Shrek. Children’s Theatre has hit the big time.
Actors have also crossed over from stage to screen and back. Ana Gasteyer, Amy Spanger, John Stamos, Chandra Wilson, Kristin Chenoweth, Alison Janney, Brian Stokes Mitchell, and others dance around the line, appearing at the Emmys, the Oscars, and the Tonys.
Why is there such an influx of movies to the Broadway stage? Have writers simply lost the desire to come up with original ideas? I don’t think so. I think that it’s strongly affected by the economy. In an attempt to get more people to attend broadway theatre, shows have been streamlined into recognizable formats with names that people can relate to. They know Alison Janney, John Stamos, and Chandra Wilson. Parents are more willing to take their children to see shows based on movies that they grew up with and love. People are excited to see a musical based on a movie, even if it’s just to find out how closely it adheres to the original. It’s easier to adapt the movie to the stage than it is to adapt the book because a lot of the elements have already been provided.
I do think, however, that it is harder to translate the movie to the stage because there are certain expectations. People are very critical when a well-loved movie is changed for the stage. This is the same as books, but the visual element is removed. A character may not necessarily look the way you pictured them to look, but that was your own interpretation, so you are more willing to accept it. With a movie, you’ve seen the character and you’ve heard the lines delivered a certain way. You’re on the lookout for that same delivery. It’s like a drug; you expect the same high you feel when you watch the movie.
Still, I think that movie titles will always have a pull for those attending the theatre because of the known factor. It’s familiar. It’s safe. You may not get what you expected, but at least you had expectations, to begin with. Going to see a show that you’ve never heard of in another forum is taking a chance. Sometimes, it’s worth the risk, but most people are unwilling to do so at $80+ a seat.
As for me, I’m still waiting for Harry Potter: The Musical Series.
Think about the grand benefits of entertainment, in general, can offer us. Whether it’s a comedy, a sport, drama, or other, important messages can be picked up from these options along with thrills!
A play, or performance can keep our curiosity high about what’ll happen next. This is what certain soap operas can be good at; sparking our anticipation to the point we want to see more and are curious enough to add the viewing to our schedules. A good story keeps it viewer or listener interested.
Entertainment, in general, can bring a family or/and friends closer together, and give them something to talk about and make references to (perhaps humorous ones). If you do enough research, you might find that laughter actually has health benefits. How about improving your health by sitting and watching a performance (perhaps most performances are likely to have at least SOME humor in them)?
The very idea of comedy, for instance, continuously having more added to it through comedians and writers amongst people is pleasing. It’s good to be sure that you can find fresh material if you ever want to go on a trip somewhere, or if you happen to find any during a visit somewhere.
Sports can help ensure anticipation about which team will score, and what’ll happen at seemingly important moments (such as whether or not someone will make a 3-pointer in basketball). With the variety of sports to view, a person can have anticipation more.
Sports, in general, can be reasons for friends visit each other; whether it’s to watch them, play them, or discuss them. Of course, a person can typically favor certain sports over others, but there is still more that he or she can at least appreciate, or even resort to partaking in for boredom relief. Think about the different sports there are basketball, baseball, football, hockey, golf, tennis, and soccer for instance.
Music can SURELY be entertaining to listen to! Think about how awesome it might be to go to a concert of a favorite band or/and solo artist with your friends! Or the performers can be singers who do not (generally) produce their own music, but are pleasing to listen to nevertheless! From POP to Rock and Roll, to Techno/Electronic, to R&B, to RAP, to Heavy Metal amongst options, there is obviously a variety of music for you to choose from if you want to. Perhaps you prefer certain ones over others, or have at least some taste for most if not all of them! Either way, concerts of these can be a BLAST for you and others!!
Think about seeking out the performance of your preference. It could be an unforgettable topic for friends or/and family to discuss in the future. It could be a spectacular memory for you to look back on. It could increase appreciation for whatever artist(s) or/and performer(s) you’d viewed. Who are your favorite entertainers? Will they be in your area soon? Perhaps they’ll be in an area you plan to visit eventually, or plan to visit soon. Regardless of the possible answer(s), arrange what could be one of the best times of your life as soon as possible, before it’s too late! There’s no telling when, or even if the entertainer(s) will visit that certain place again.
For certain concerts, check if there are plans for seats available on the main floor if you might prefer to sit most of the time, or at least for a bit of rest. Expect LOUD noise. Of course, in a typical stadium for instance there are also areas around the main floor where you can sit or stand.
Sound and performance have gone hand-in-hand since the dawn of time; cavemen used sound and music as a way of evoking certain emotions when performing dances. Indeed, any tribal chant you may have heard will be full of certain textures and sounds designed at evoking emotion, be that anger, envy, or lust.
Although sound and dance have long been comfortable bedfellows, the theatre only really adopted sound in the late 19th century and has endured a somewhat odd relationship with it since.
Unlike lighting, which is widely embraced by most theatre practitioners and is considered as essential to the theatre as the performers, the sound is sometimes shunted into the background and left as a secondary consideration. There are two principal approaches to sound in theatre, naturalistic and non-naturalistic.
Naturalistic sound is pretty much as it sounds – sound effects and music used to root a performance, in reality, to impose a strong sense of ‘this is really happening’ onto the audience. That can take the form of a gunshot sound effect when a gun is fired or a low din of jukebox melodies in a pub scene.
Taking a naturalistic approach can have its benefits, particularly if you are staging a ‘kitchen sink drama’-type show which trades off gritty realism. It does limit the ways in which you can use sound, however.
Your use of music will largely be limited to instances wherein characters would play music, such as in a car or on a stereo, otherwise, your carefully constructed reality could shatter completely.
Non-naturalistic sound can offer a great deal to production in terms of emotional impact and in contributing to the overall performance. When it comes to non-naturalistic sound, the aim is to affect your audience emotionally and psychologically rather than use sound as a way of adding a layer of reality.
The great thing about sound is that it still maintains that ability to shock and disturb or soothe and reassure, in a way that visual elements don’t. Thanks in part to the internet, it’s hard to produce an image so shocking that it causes audience members to cover their eyes or look away without either being too gratuitous or even potentially breaking the law!
However, a grating sound like nails down a chalkboard will always cause people some level of disturbance – evidence of the power sound potentially holds when it comes to conveying emotions and feelings to your audience.
Despite the distinction made between the two, naturalistic and non-naturalistic sounds aren’t mutually exclusive elements; in fact, most performances benefit from a combination of the two. You can construct a realistic world and bring it down again within a few minutes – in this respect, the sound is quite unique.
There are quite a few ways in which one can pump sound into a theatre, from a CD containing sound effects played on a stereo to an MP3 player hooked up to a speaker.
However, there is a lot to be said for having a full theatre sound system set up and storing a bank of effects and music on a laptop. It’s easy, produces the best quality sound, and leads to seamless sound integration which won’t derive from the flow of the performance.