What is it about Musical Theatre?

Last week I found myself at a local brewery with some friends with a live band playing. I found myself “head-bopping” to the beat as a form of socially awkward “I don’t know how to respond to this music” participation. The brewery was filled with all ages: 20-somethings to 70-somethings all drinking more brews than needed. I was concentrating on the 8-person band wondering how they came to be when a 60-something man pulled me aside and asked, “Do you like this music? If you could have any band here instead, who would it be?”

I immediately blanked and stared off into space. I could not think of one relevant band I liked. All I could think about was who I would want to see perform at 54 Below. I then took a second to think of what I listen to on my phone or Pandora and realized: “Ohhhhhh…I’ve turned into that girl.” That girl who only listens to musical theatre. I responded by rattling off a band my friend had talked about earlier that day and moved on.

That conversation it got me thinking about why I prefer musical theatre. What is it about musical theatre that keeps me listening for hours and enables me to forget about other music entirely?

One of the reasons why I listen to musical theatre is that it is my passion, whether I’m on stage or a part of an audience. However, aside from that, I think musical theatre enables us to explore and discover. Musical theatre tells a story; it furthers a plot and develops characters. While I listen to musical theatre, I can feel myself slip into that character with a new set of eyes and a new perspective. I compile ideas and wonders about who that character is and why they are telling their story. The often passive activity of listening to music then becomes active – an active ball of energy with ideas and inspiration. I ignite with energy as I make connections with a character or I hear words sung that seem more relevant than words spoken. Those are the magical moments that make musical theatre special.

Musical Theatre also has such a variety of styles and genres. Sometimes I’m on a Cole Porter kick and sometimes I’m binge listening to Kerrigan-Lowdermilk. Whether it’s past or present, there are so many options to listen to within the musical theatre world. From hip-hop to pop-rock, there is a style of musical theatre for everyone.

That being said, it’s also important to explore the unfamiliar. The fact that I was unable to respond to the man’s question motivates me to take time to see what other music is out there aside from musical theatre. Maybe there is music out there that will take me on a similar journey. Either way, regardless of what genre of music you listen to, music is such a powerful universal experience that guides us through our entire lives.

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