It may seem bold to claim that everybody likes musicals. I know people who say that they won’t go near one if a gun was pointed at their heads. Yet, I still think that these people, deep down, like musicals, in some capacity at least. Musicals are a special thing, linking the two mediums of music and acting. Both of these sell tickets alone, so combined it would make sense that they are something special – which they are. I know that people can be put off by them. Put off by the break in story or the uncreative, plot driven songs, but that isn’t just what musicals are. They can be, and are, so much more.
For the first thing there are countless genres within the musicals subsection. While it may be the case for some of them, not every musical is just forcibly inserted songs into a story. Nobody would proclaim that Phantom of the Opera was anything close to Momma Mia, and that is just the start of it. On West End alone you have operatic and band adaptations (as previously mentioned), along with the likes of comedies (The Book of Mormon), book adaptations (Charlie and the Chocolate Factory), and (debatably) instrumental in the form of Stomp. There is so much range within the form of a musical that there is something to like for everyone –even if it is the fan service of having a musical based on the songs of a band you like (looking at you American Idiot and We Will Rock You). There is such a variety that it provides something for everyone but also means that musicals elevate themselves a level, showing that this medium can tackle a wide range of entertainment.
Musicals also bring an essence to them that a standard play does not; a song can provide a way to express something that is difficult to do in a standard play. A character can more effectively demonstrate how they feel through music than through a soliloquy, which usually breaks up a scene in order to convey the crucial thoughts. The songs also provide not just the thoughts of characters, but their feelings. A song that clearly states how the characters feel is easier in musical form than trying to portray the emotion through bodily expression, especially when a large portion of the audience cannot see the fine details of the face.
Even if people have gone through this argument and still believe musicals to be all bad, I direct you away from the stage into film. Musical films are marvellous, and usually are above average as they demand that time is spent in creatively writing them. All the animated Disney films of our childhoods are examples of this, and some of these stand with the greats of cinema – Beauty and the Beast (1995) got nominated for Best Picture at the Academy Awards. This goes even further when it comes to non-animated musical films, with multiple films (The Sound of Music, West Side Story, Chicago, and My Fair Lady to name a few) having actually won the award. These films show that musicals can be on par with both plays and films of the highest calibre, which in turn proves that musicals can be, and are, great. Even then if someone still doesn’t like musicals, and have seen all the productions I have listen, go watch La La Land – it’s pretty special.