Musicals Thread (Imagination)

Welcome! The purpose of this thread is to talk about all things related to the wonderful world of musical theatre. I post a thread with a topic/question for everyone to respond to, but you are always more than welcome to discuss other topics! This is also a great place to mention any new musicals you’ve discovered and/or general recommendations for other musical fans. Heard any good shows lately? Have any theatre news to share? Tell us about it!

While you’re not likely to be seeing any shows right now, that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy musical theatre from home! If you’re yearning to escape into the world of a musical, you can immerse yourself in the experience of listening to one. Or even watch a movie musical! I’ve talked about listening to recordings before, but I thought this would be a good time to go over my “process” when picking up a new musical. If you haven’t been able to get into listening to a new show this way in the past, give it a try!

Let’s use a real musical as an example: The Light Princess. I’d recommend giving this musical a listen right now because it has a very distinct world that you can easily immerse yourself in, a fairly simple plot, a great cast of characters, and incredible music. Close your eyes and you’ll find yourself in a fantastical land full of dragons, a floating princess, friendship, love, and, mostly importantly, stories. I’ve written about this musical a couple times, so feel free to check out those posts to give yourself some more background about the musical. In fact, that’s a good first step to listening to a new show!

Sometimes I jump straight into a recording knowing almost nothing about a show. But usually I’m introduced to it by watching a performance on the Tonys or reading about it here, so I have at least some idea of what it’s about. You don’t have to read an entire plot summary yet (although you can). Personally, I like to go in not knowing all the details about where the story is headed.

So, I press play. And I do something that allows me to listen without just sitting there. For example, this is a great time to do a little cleaning or organizing around the house. Or put your headphones in and go for a walk. Get in your car and drive along a scenic route. There’s no wrong way to listen to a musical! As I’m listening, I embrace the fact that I might not know everything that’s going on. That’s okay! A lot of times the story sorts itself out the more I listen, but I also like to try and fill in the blanks myself. Imagine what’s happening on stage. Try it, it’s fun! Don’t get too hung up on the little details.

If you want a little more guidance for The Light Princess, they are these great summaries on YouTube. This covers Act One:

After I’ve listened to the show once, I start to do my research. For The Light Princess that meant searching for any live performances I could find on YouTube. That helps me get a clearer picture of what the stage looks like and can show me how certain scenes played out. Next, I start reading plot summaries. But if there are still holes in the plot, I go one step further and actually find the script and read parts (or all) of the show. I did that for The Light Princess because I had a very specific question about one scene that I couldn’t find the answer to online.

Then I listen to the show again. This time I can picture so much more! I can see the stage, the characters, the lights, and everything comes to life. I close my eyes and imagine that I’m there, and I start to learn the words and suddenly I’m not just watching the show, I’m in it! And when it’s over, I’ve just been to another world, outside of my living room, and I feel a little better (sometimes, depending on the musical, A LOT better).

Give it a try! Pick a new musical and try to experience the show using your imagination. Here are a few more musicals that I highly recommend giving a listen: The Drowsy Chaperone, You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown, Little Shop of Horrors, Natasha, Pierre, and the Great Comet of 1812 (also written about here), and Hadestown (sorry, still haven’t written about this one because I have a million thoughts on it). The great thing about being in this community is that if you do have questions about the story, you can ask them here, and someone will probably know the answer! I’d also very much like to know what musicals you’d recommend listening to right now. Please share!

Okay, I’ve given you some tips for listening to a new musical for the first time and provided suggestions for musicals to try. What about you? What’s your process for experiencing a new musical? What musicals do you recommend people listen to right now?

Of course, you could always watch a movie musical as well! Any recommendations for musicals to watch from home?