Musical Theater Professionals Who “Don’t Really Like Musicals”

I’ve heard it more times than one would expect.  Someone asks an actor, or producer, or director, or especially a writer of musical theater what their favorite musicals are, or what they recommend on Broadway, and the theater professional says something to the effect of “it’s funny, I do musical theater, but I don’t really like most of it.”  This answer baffles me.  Do they say these things to sound cool in a world where they see their art form as low status?  Did they really pick our medium arbitrarily, or just because they happened to be good at it?  Have they become disillusioned?  Out of touch?  Resentful of shows that have had success?  Do they really just dislike their job?

I work in musical theater because musicals are my favorite thing.  I like them better than movies.  And TV.  I like them better than a good meal.  I like them better than the things I could buy with the money I could make in banking or medicine.  If poetry were my favorite thing I would be writing it, and not musicals.  To those people who can’t say this, I’d love to tell them “go!  Chase your real dream!  And stop taking up stages that the rest of us could be working on!”

I don’t mean to say that artists shouldn’t be striving to change the genre, or make their mark on it.  I don’t think they should indiscriminately like it all, or even that they should like most of it, but somewhere along the way there must have been that show or that moment that made them decide this was what they wanted to do with their lives, right?  It saddens me to think there might be people toiling along in this brutal, ego-crushing, usually poorly paying, always extremely challenging industry who are not guided by an overarching love of it.

Andrew Lloyd Webber has said, “I think you’re very lucky in life if you know what you really want to do, which I was lucky enough to know when I was very young.”  For those doing what they really love, best of luck in pursuing your passion.  And for those who don’t much like musicals, I hope you find yours soon.

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