Every year we field a number of questions regarding what our musical theatre classes are and how they are different? Well, many students have taken a ‘musical theatre’ class at a dance or music school and come away pretty shocked when they get into a real musical or into proper musical theatre classes. At M&P, we offer the real musical theatre experience – no matter what their age.
Musical Theatre is the combination of music (singing), acting and dancing and performers in this genre are commonly referred to as ‘triple threats’. It is also one of the easiest forms of theatre to introduce people to as an audience member, as there as so many possible points of engagement.
As a student of it, knowing what musical theatre is – is important. Another way to look at it, given the diverse use of the term to promote classes within arts education, is also what it isn’t. Musical theatre is not:
- a dance class where you dance to a musical theatre song and lip sync;
- singing a musical theatre song in your voice lesson;
- doing a bit of movement in your theatre class; and
- if you can dance jazz, tap and ballet styles – you are not a triple threat performer – you are a dancer who knows three styles of dance.
For those choosing this path, the world of musical theatre is pretty amazing. It allows students to grow in new ways – but it takes real work to get good at it! That said, you will never stop learning in any art form and just taking a class or two in a specific discipline isn’t really enough to qualify as Musical Theatre.
As mentioned, Musical Theatre tells a story through more than one discipline. It blends music, theatre and movement and as such it is important to learn the proper techniques of each. This includes how to breathe and sing properly; a basic dance and movement vocabulary – and as you mature more sophisticated training; and finally proper acting instruction – that emphasizes exploration, creativity and building the trust needed to work as part of a team. Once you have some of the pieces of this puzzle, then you also need the guidance and opportunity to see and understand how they work together – and to practice them together.
In the musical theatre structure, music elevates a scene and dance elevates a song – each building on one another when appropriate to convey the message appropriately or with increased intensity. You’ve heard the phrase, why speak when you can sing and why sing when you can dance…well that is true, but you also have to learn how and when to employ these things otherwise it can just turn into one big Vegas talent show gone wrong.
See you in class.