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Musical Theatre Theory
Musical Theatre Theory
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Musical Theatre Theory

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The content of this powerpoint is not original in any way. The information and a good deal of the text can be attributed to www.musicals101.com and the book "How To Audition for the Musical Theatre" …

The content of this powerpoint is not original in any way. The information and a good deal of the text can be attributed to www.musicals101.com and the book "How To Audition for the Musical Theatre" by Donald Oliver. Likewise, I do not own any rights to the photography herein. This powerpoint was designed to consolidate info and stimulate interest among high school-level students.

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  • 1. Musical Theatre TheoryWednesday, May 22, 13
  • 2. The BasicsWednesday, May 22, 13
  • 3. A musical is a stage, television or film production featuringsongs—and possibly dialogue—to either tell a story orshowcase the talents of the writers and/or performers.Wednesday, May 22, 13
  • 4. TheCreativeTeam:Composer,Lyricist, andLibrettistWednesday, May 22, 13
  • 5. TheProductionTeam:TheProducerWednesday, May 22, 13
  • 6. Diane PaulusJulie TaymorTheProductionTeam:TheDirector+ AssistantDirectorWednesday, May 22, 13
  • 7. The ProductionTeam:TheChoreographer+the DanceCaptain TwylaTharpBob FosseWednesday, May 22, 13
  • 8. TheProductionTeam:The MusicDirector+the RehearsalPianist, theConductor, &Pit MusiciansWednesday, May 22, 13
  • 9. The ProductionTeam:The TechnicalDirector+Lighting Designer,Audio Technician,CostumeDesigner, MakeupArtist, PropsMaster, & SetDesignerWednesday, May 22, 13
  • 10. TheProductionTeam:ProductionStage Manager+Assistant StageManagers &Run CrewWednesday, May 22, 13
  • 11. ThePerformers:Actors,Singers, andDancers—butpreferablythose who cando all three—a.k.a.TripleThreats.Wednesday, May 22, 13
  • 12. Classification ofMusicalsWednesday, May 22, 13
  • 13. Critics often refer to the original incarnation ofmusical comedies—noted for their linear, climacticplots with happy endings—as classical musicals.Wednesday, May 22, 13
  • 14. What critics refer to as modern musicals debatablybegan in the 1950’s with more realistic stories and morecomplex endings to match the realities of modern life.Wednesday, May 22, 13
  • 15. Book Musical is a term used todescribe a musical that combines dialogue,song, and dance to construct a narrative.Wednesday, May 22, 13
  • 16. A revue is a collection of musical numbers arrangedinto a show. Often the pieces are thematically linkedor constructed of works by a single composer/lyricist.Wednesday, May 22, 13
  • 17. Sung-through is a term used to describemusicals containing little or no spoken dialogue; inother words, nearly all the elements of thestorytelling are completed through music and song.Wednesday, May 22, 13
  • 18. A concept musical is a musical wherethe shows metaphor or statement ismore important than the actual narrative.Wednesday, May 22, 13
  • 19. Rock operas are sung-throughmodern musicals featuring rock music.Wednesday, May 22, 13
  • 20. A chamber musical is a formcontaining a small cast and set in onelocation with minimal production cost.Wednesday, May 22, 13
  • 21. Jukebox musicals are a fairly new idea in whicha book is written to encompass a series of existingsongs either from one genre or one composer.Wednesday, May 22, 13
  • 22. Movicals is the term used todescribe the recent trend of themusicalization of popular movies.Wednesday, May 22, 13
  • 23. Song IncorporationWednesday, May 22, 13
  • 24. It is called mimesis when a musical’scharacters are not "aware" that they aresinging. Some musicals are completely mimetic.Wednesday, May 22, 13
  • 25. It is called diegesis when songs arepresented as a musical occurrencewithin the plot. Some musicals arecomplete diegetic.Wednesday, May 22, 13
  • 26. Some musicals combinemimetic and diegetic songs.Wednesday, May 22, 13
  • 27. Types of MusicalTheatre SongsWednesday, May 22, 13
  • 28. If you areinterested inbeing a musicaltheatreperformer, youshould preparethe following 7types of songs foryour auditionrepertoire:Wednesday, May 22, 13
  • 29. A ballad shows youremotional range andthe way you phrase alyric—your sensitivityto the words andthoughts. “Suddenly Seymour”Wednesday, May 22, 13
  • 30. An up-tune shows your sense of rhythm andhow exciting and fun you are as a performer. Theup-tune and the ballad should work together incontrast to show a vast range.“Cockeyed Optimist”Wednesday, May 22, 13
  • 31. A comedy song is important in order to showaudition staff that you can handle comedy. The bestcomedy songs are ones in which the character has a hugeproblem and is trying to explain it. For the character, thesituation is serious. For the listener, it’s hilarious.“I Cain’t Say No”Wednesday, May 22, 13
  • 32. It wise to prepare a contemporaryBroadway song from a rock or pop opera.“The Bitch of Living”Wednesday, May 22, 13
  • 33. A patter songis one that has acomplicated,wordy lyric, with asimple, repetitivemelody.This piecewill show off theperformer’sdiction.“Everybody Says Don’t”Wednesday, May 22, 13
  • 34. Femaleperformers shouldprepare a torchsong These arestandards, whichare essentiallyfocused on theromantic longingsof women invarious states ofecstasy and/oragony.“The Man I Love”Wednesday, May 22, 13
  • 35. And lastly, prepare a rock song. Inchoosing a piece for yourself, consider howit will work with piano accompaniment atan audition. Think melody.“Paradise”Wednesday, May 22, 13
  • 36. Song FunctionsWednesday, May 22, 13
  • 37. The most memorable show songstend to gel around three kinds ofcharacter experiences:Wednesday, May 22, 13
  • 38. Transition: the character has amoment of change or conversion.“Epiphany”Wednesday, May 22, 13
  • 39. Realization:the characterreaches aninsight or newlevel ofunderstanding.“Rose’s Turn”Wednesday, May 22, 13
  • 40. Decision:after longwrangling, acharacter finallymakes up his orher mind.“Soliloquy”Wednesday, May 22, 13
  • 41. Traditional musicals carefully varied theplacement of song types, while musicals of thelate 20th Century showed an increasing relianceon placing ballad after ballad after ballad.Wednesday, May 22, 13
  • 42. If you are writing a musical, give youraudiences a variety of song types.Wednesday, May 22, 13
  • 43. The types of songs commonlyrequired in modern musicals can beillustrated with these examples fromLerner and Loewes My Fair Lady:Wednesday, May 22, 13
  • 44. Charm Songs - let acharacter beguile an audience.“Wouldn’t It Be Loverly”Wednesday, May 22, 13
  • 45. Comedy Numbers -aim for laughs.“A Little Bit of Luck”Wednesday, May 22, 13
  • 46. Ballads - usually love songs, but they canalso philosophize about any strong emotion.“On The StreetWhereYou Live”Wednesday, May 22, 13
  • 47. Musical Scenes - seamlessly blenddialogue and song, usually with two ormore characters.“You Did It”Wednesday, May 22, 13
  • 48. Bob Fosse said that from a directors point of viewthere were only three types of show songs:Wednesday, May 22, 13
  • 49. To illustrate,lets takeexamples fromBernstein andSondheimsWest SideStory:Wednesday, May 22, 13
  • 50. I Am songs—Any song that explains acharacter, a group of characters, or a situation.“The Jet Song”Wednesday, May 22, 13
  • 51. I Want songs—These tell us whatcharacters desire, what motivates them.“Something’s Coming”Wednesday, May 22, 13
  • 52. New songs—This includes any number thatdoes not fit the other two categories, usuallybecause they serve special dramatic needs.“Gee, Officer Krupke”Wednesday, May 22, 13
  • 53. From the 1800s on, traditionalmusicals tried to include at least oneor two songs that might find popularsuccess outside the show.Wednesday, May 22, 13
  • 54. Many a musical did better business when one of itssongs became a hit, but the rise of rock pushedshowtunes out of pop contention by the mid-1960s.Wednesday, May 22, 13
  • 55. While thismadeshowtunesless profitable,it also took aburden offcomposersand lyricists.Wednesday, May 22, 13
  • 56. Now they can concentrate on the dramaticneeds of their shows, rather than trying toartificially squeeze hits into a score.Wednesday, May 22, 13
  • 57. LyricsWednesday, May 22, 13
  • 58. The hallmark of good lyric writingis fresh use of language andsurprising, careful word choice,and careful word arrangements.Wednesday, May 22, 13
  • 59. Word choices are oftenmade based on the soundsthat make up the word.Wednesday, May 22, 13
  • 60. Lyricists think about what theyneed to say and find the mostamusing or graceful way to say it.Wednesday, May 22, 13
  • 61. Rhyme is one of a lyricists mostpotent tools, giving a song muchof its comic or dramatic impact.Wednesday, May 22, 13
  • 62. It is easy enough to find wordsthat rhyme—the trick is in howa lyricist gets from one of thesewords to another.Wednesday, May 22, 13
  • 63. Internal rhymes—rhymes within thelyrical line—can have a powerful impact.“Her hair is blonde and curly.Her curls are hurly-burly.Her lips are pips.I call her hips whirly and twirly.”— “Honey Bun”, South PacificWednesday, May 22, 13
  • 64. Obvious, tired rhymes, clichéd phrases,or forced non-rhymes are distractionsthat can ruin the effect of a show song."Yeah, just one shell and governments fall like flies, kapow, dieThey stumble and fall, bye byeBacks to the wall, aim highWere having a ballThe tank and bullet rule as democracy dies"Wednesday, May 22, 13
  • 65. Every lyric mustcontribute to tellingthe story.Wednesday, May 22, 13
  • 66. Parts of a SongWednesday, May 22, 13
  • 67. • Intros: The beginnings of songs.• Verses: A repeating section of a songthat usually tells the story.• Pre-Chorus:A lead up to the chorus• Chorus:The focal point of the song—usually expresses the thematic oremotional core of the song. Dependingon the type of song, this section isoften the most hooky.• Bridge: The musical/lyrical break in asong. Lyrically, it usually gives a newperspective. Often referred to as the“Middle Eight” if it is 8 bars long.• Extros: Lead outs or endings of songsWednesday, May 22, 13
  • 68. Showtune StructureWednesday, May 22, 13
  • 69. Typically showtunesfollow this structure:A-A-B-AA is the main melody,and B is the bridge.Wednesday, May 22, 13
  • 70. AABAWednesday, May 22, 13
  • 71. Other variations:A-B-A-B,A-B-A-B-C,A-A-A-A,andA-A-B-A-B-C-BWednesday, May 22, 13
  • 72. Song PlacementWednesday, May 22, 13
  • 73. The opening number mustestablish the tone for the musical. Itoften introduces the setting, some ofthe characters, and the basic situationprior to the inciting incident.West Side Story’s “Prologue”Wednesday, May 22, 13
  • 74. Usually occurring fairly early on in the firstact, the main character clarifies his/heroverarching internal dramatic need for theplay in the main “I Want” song.“Maybe”Wednesday, May 22, 13
  • 75. Reprise:All or part of a song isrepeated to make a dramaticpoint, tie things together, orenergize the end of a scene.“Look at Me, I’m Sandra Dee (Reprise)”Wednesday, May 22, 13
  • 76. Dream Ballet:A fantasysequence wherein theprotagonists dream ornightmare is acted outthrough dance—no lyrics.Oklahoma’s Dream BalletWednesday, May 22, 13
  • 77. Eleven O’Clock Number:This is usually anup-tune, charm or comedy piece mid-way throughAct Two to invigorate the audience, leading up tothe climax and resolution of the conflict.“Hakuna Matata”Wednesday, May 22, 13
  • 78. Finale: The last song of the play. Itmust deliver an emotional wallopand leave the audience with a clearand powerful last impression.Pippin’s “Finale”Wednesday, May 22, 13
  • 79. The BookWednesday, May 22, 13
  • 80. The book—alsocalled thelibretto—is themanuscript of thecompletemusical,containing stagedirections, lyricsand spokendialogue (if thereis any).Wednesday, May 22, 13
  • 81. It is the least appreciated yet mostdramatically important element of a musical.Wednesday, May 22, 13
  • 82. It is the narrative structure that keeps thescore from being nothing more than adisjointed medley of songs—which had oftenbeen the case until the 1940s.Wednesday, May 22, 13
  • 83. The first job of every musicalis to tell a good story.Wednesday, May 22, 13
  • 84. Musicals with great scores and weakbooks tend to fail, while those withmediocre scores and solid books havea better chance of succeeding.Wednesday, May 22, 13
  • 85. Key Book ElementsWednesday, May 22, 13
  • 86. Keep the story lineclear and easy to follow.Wednesday, May 22, 13
  • 87. Create characters that areeasy to relate to, withoutresorting to stereotypes.Wednesday, May 22, 13
  • 88. Create situations that callcharacters into song.Wednesday, May 22, 13
  • 89. Move in and out of songs assmoothly as possible.Wednesday, May 22, 13
  • 90. Hand over much (and sometimes all)of the plot and character developmentto the songs and choreography.Wednesday, May 22, 13
  • 91. Make the audiencecare at all times.Wednesday, May 22, 13
  • 92. Scene StructureWednesday, May 22, 13
  • 93. The ending of each scene in a bookmusical must project the actionforward, pointing the audiencesinterest into the scenes to come.Wednesday, May 22, 13
  • 94. Librettists must work closely with composersand lyricists to determine where songs fit andhow to get into song as seamlessly as possible.Wednesday, May 22, 13
  • 95. Audiences cringe atobvious song cues.“Tell me about it, stud.”Wednesday, May 22, 13
  • 96. Ending Act OneWednesday, May 22, 13
  • 97. The modern musical libretto isalmost always written in a two-act format with an intermission.Wednesday, May 22, 13
  • 98. The first act does not have to endwith a cliff-hanger, but we should becurious to see what happens next...Wednesday, May 22, 13
  • 99. If you have not hooked an audiencebefore intermission time, odds are youhave a flop on your hands.Wednesday, May 22, 13
  • 100. Ending Act TwoWednesday, May 22, 13
  • 101. The end of Act Two is evenmore important. It is whataudiences walk out with.Wednesday, May 22, 13
  • 102. Having a great “finale” song helps—manyshows reprise their strongest ballad—butthe book writer must structure the play sothat the last scene is dramatically satisfying.Wednesday, May 22, 13
  • 103. FINWednesday, May 22, 13

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