Article in the FT arguing that musicals are changing to having weaker plots but more substantial music.
Musicals come, musicals go. Does it matter? Financially, yes; but I leave that to other commentators. What about what the money buys? The musical scene in London and New York is changing. But how? And why? Miss Saigon, Cats, Starlight Express - behemoths, fixtures in the West End since the 1980s - have gone. Mamma Mia, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, We Will Rock You, The Full Monty, and now Bombay Dreams have arrived. Can this new wave of musicals match or surpass the generation it replaces? MORE
What strikes most is that the new musicals are less substantial in terms of plot, but more substantial in terms of music. The change is marked; it may just mean a whole shift of method for the musical as a theatrical genre. We Will Rock You, which, at the massive Dominion Theatre seems set to be London's next juggernaut, has come in for much criticism. Its plot is cartoonish: fake sci-fi thriller, campy retro survey of rock (verging on gross historical inaccuracy), and so on. If you think great musicals all have great stories, then We Will Rock You just won't do.
My own thoughts are that musicals are being divided up into more categories than ever. Can we really describe Mamma Mia and We will Rock You as true musicals? Are they not just glorified tribute shows? I haven't seen We Will Rock You but I have seen mamma Mia and it was great entertainment but can we really compare it in the same category as shows like Oklahoma and West Side Story?
<small>[ 26 March 2003, 04:31 AM: Message edited by: Stuart Sweeney ]</small>