Considering musicals

Two of my kids saw a production of Legally Blonde at Griffith Regional Theatre earlier this year as part of their high school excursion

My son has been involved in a number of large musical productions and didn’t say much more than “it was okay.”

I didn't really pick up at the time that my daughter Neve said it was her first musical.

If I had I might’ve been prompted to remember seeing Pirates of Penzance while in primary school and adoring the songs.

By year seven I was acting in a high school musical in Canberra, which won a peace prize and was attended by the Governor General.

Anyway, last week I noticed Neve was watching Legally Blonde on Youtube and it turns out she's been watching it a lot.

This led me to realise how little opportunity local kids have to see a variety of arts in regional NSW and appreciate that Griffith City Council are creating opportunities for students outside of their shire boundary.

Neve and I have been talking over the weekend about musicals and last night she asked “What does it mean when people break into song in a musical?”

The magic realism of those moments — music realism? — led me to remember the wonderful musical episode of Buffy, in which a curse means the characters can’t help but to express their innermost thoughts through song.

Within the musical genre music is a method of exposition that is part of a tradition going back to the choruses of ancient Greece.

I wonder if musicals also illustrate the creative expression that people often describe as a benefit of the arts.

This leads me to remember this wonderful observation about poetry from Harrison Young:
Poetry is full of metaphor, and metaphor is where one thing means another, it is saying two things at once. And this to my mind is like reality, there are often two aspects. Or more.

The role of the arts seems to be diminishing in contemporary society and I worry it will be to the detriment of our abilities to hold a range of views and see issues from other perspectives.

Art has an important role in building empathy as the viewer assumes the perspective of the artist.