Christian Clifton wonders why it is so strange for a man to enjoy musicals and wants more guys to be willing to embrace them.
Yeah I said it, I enjoy musicals. There is something special to me about a well written and well produced musical, whether on screen or stage, that other big screen escapades just can’t keep up with. I’ve shared this before with several different groups and for the response was usually either a jest or awkward silence. Musicals have such a rich history in our culture, so why is it weird for a guy to like them?
There are plenty of things that make guys shudder when they think of musicals; singing, dancing, and most of all tights. There is a general disdain amongst men for this type of entertainment, one that is jested at in sitcoms all the time. Men tend to avoid them and the ones that gladly go to a musical are generally labeled as being a little off or in a more brunt manner, gay.
This needs to stop. Shunning such an important part of entertainment and those who enjoy it is foolish and can cause us to miss out on some truly marvelous works.
Musicals are a superb art form that can convey messages in ways that a normal movie simply cannot. There is true power in putting thought to verse and hidden meaning is much more fun to find buried under melodies. Whether you like it or not singing and music are a very important part of human civilization and should be celebrated.
Music has been crucial in the developing of culture as early nomadic tribes would use song and dance in calling out to their respective deities. It was used as communication between distant family groups, outpacing the fastest messengers. Distinctive tunes and sounds even became strong enough to force us to recall an entire era by a single note. We cannot deny that music and singing are as much a part of our history as war is.
Going back only a hundred years it was a sign of dignity to be attending the latest opera, which are not all that different from musicals, and yet now the thought seems odd. Now a man going to a musical at the least tends to get a second glance and the very worst may be at the ire of a distasteful joke. Is there a way to take back this art form that was beloved for so long and still holds much value today?
We can as long as we remember that there are musicals that can rival, if not out class, the best that Hollywood has to offer. There is more to entertainment than watching the gruff hero defeat the baddie, deliver a catchphrase, and ride off with the girl. If you think they are nothing but silly singing and dance numbers there is so much more to many of these stories.
There are quite a few I enjoy and some I would even venture to say I love; here are some of my personal favorites:
Les Miserables, the musical based upon the novel by Victor Hugo, tells a story of redemption and the power of the human spirit to endure. The book is a great read but Jean Val Jean’s mourning becomes that much more real and earnest when sung to a well crafted tune.
Rent weaves tales of love, self discovery, discrimination, and change into a wonderful tapestry that would be torn to bits if allowed to reach a Hollywood editor before production. The joy and pain of the characters is expressed through powerful lyrics that have a way of staying with us forever. Plus it made every one able to remember exactly how many minutes are in a year with the well known song “Seasons of Love”. (It’s 525,600 minutes in case you didn’t know, and yes I sang that in my head as I wrote it.)
The Phantom of the Opera, one of the worlds’ most well known musicals (and another based upon the work of a French author), tells of the life of the eponymous character that is first thought a specter but ultimately becomes a main player in the life of the leading lady, Christine. It is a timeless lesson in the power of love, both to create and to destroy our very lives.
These and many more carry wisdom we all want to know and messages we would gladly share with sons, brothers, and friends. They do so in a way that delights more than just the eyes with fancy special effects and pretty faces but are capable of moving in us something far deeper, our souls.
As children it was OK for us to sing along with Disney and Barney and yet as we age there is something that changes. The coming of testosterone disallows us from delighting in musicals for fear of social rejection, casting those that would openly accept them into hiding or to become the butt of a joke.
I have no problem saying out loud that I really do love going to musicals and not because my wife is dragging me a long. I long for the warmth that arises at the subtle clues an overture leaves on my mind, stories that are artfully crafted into verse in ways mere dialogue could never match, and find awe in the ability of stages to be transformed beyond their small sizes to whole other worlds. Just writing this made me set up a playlist of great musical numbers and now has me wanting to go watch one right now.
There is trouble with a capital T, there are points of no return, and there are dreams to dream if only we let ourselves be captured up in these phenomenal works of art. So go out and rent one on DVD or, if you can, catch one performed live on stage and thank me later.
–Photo Credit: muuuusic/flickr