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Printed from http://www.writing.com/main/newsletters.php/action/archives/id/3793-Musical-Plays.html
Drama: June 30, 2010 Issue [#3793]


 This week: Musical Plays
  Edited by: Joywitch
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"Musicals are, by nature, theatrical, meaning poetic, meaning having to move the audience's imagination and create a suspension of disbelief, by which I mean there's no fourth wall."
Stephen Sondheim

"I was always drawn to Broadway musicals, and obviously composers like Gershwin, Rodgers, Berlin and Porter were writing music that I found wildly impressive."
Marvin Hamlisch

"Mordred, I must remind you that I am a civilized man. With occasional lapses."
Arthur in Camelot

"What's wrong with wanting more? If you can fly then soar. With all there is, why settle for...just a piece of sky?"
Yentl in Yentl

Hello, I am Joywitch , this week's drama editor.
First, I'd like to welcome Fyntastic! to our drama editors' group. *Delight* Her presence made me think about music, and also, the 2010 Tony Awards were given on June 13; so this issue will be about musical plays. *Bigsmile*

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Welcome to the Drama newsletter

         A musical play is a dramatic art form. When stories can be sung, their plots and characters gain a stronger effect over the audiences. Musical plays contain fully developed stories with dramatic goals, and they are performed all over the world for the folks from all walks of life because these stories have plots and emotional content such as love, jealousy, hate, humor, and sorrow.

          Musical theater has sprung from the opera, while the opera can be called a descendant of the early Greek and Roman drama. It was Mozart who, during the 1780s, thought musical theater should be not only for the elite but also for the masses; so he composed Figaro, which became highly popular among the citizens of Prague who immediately started singing its melodies. Donizetti, in Italy, also followed Mozart's dream of bringing the musical stories to lower classes.

          Later on, in Paris, Offenbach leased a small theater close to Champs-Élysées, remodeled it and changed its name to Théâtre des Bouffes Parisiens, writing and putting on stage short musical pieces that became popular among the Parisians. Since Offenbach's gift of music was greater than the one or two act short musicals, he eventually wrote Orpheus in Underworld, which is considered to be a French Operetta. This movement continued in England with John Gay's Beggars Opera and in the United States with Gilbert and Sullivan's works and afterwards those of George and Ira Gershwin, Cole Porter, Irving Berlin, Moss Hart, an others. Thus the musical stories became common people's entertainment.

          The difference between an opera and a musical play is, while an opera's entire story is sung, a musical play mixes conversation and narration with songs that highlight the important points in their plots.

          Many musicals are adapted from novels. A few examples are: The Producers, Man of La Mancha, Hello Dolly, The Sound of Music, Camelot, West side Story, Chicago, My Fair Lady, and Les Misérables . Then, musical stories for children are called mini musicals, such as The Lion King and Beauty and the Beast.

          If you are interested both in music and writing and you'd like to write a musical play, here are the steps you might consider following.

          *Bullet* Jot down a storyline with all its twists, following the basics of writing a story. It could be your own story or any other story like a fairy tale, a story from history, or something from the Bible, like Andrew Lloyd Webber who has used the Bible stories a lot.

          *Bullet* Find the highlights, turning points, twists, and the most emotional points in your storyline. Write songs for those parts.

          *Bullet* To write the songs, think of the mood of the song. Make sure the song's mood fits the story's mood. The song should have a deep, strong effect as it forwards the story or explains something about the character or characters singing it. Omit the cliché and tedious words and phrases in your songs, and don't make the songs too long, but make them meaningful where every single word counts. For an example, see *I Dreamed A Dream lyrics from Les Misérables at the end of these steps.

          *Bullet* Write the rest of the story around those songs, following the rules and format for writing a play script. Put in the stage directions. Mark the parts where you think only the orchestra should be heard. At this point, you may not have the music in your head yet, unless you are also the composer.

          *Bullet* Read through your script to make sure of the flow among the songs and the storyline. The storyline should ease into the songs and songs into the storyline smoothly.

          *Bullet* Write the music or have it written for you by a composer. Professional playwrights often ask composers to write the music for them, as this is an accepted practice.

          *Bullet* Bring together actor-singers to perform your musical before you offer it to a local theater or maybe to a Broadway Wink stage.

* Example from Les Misérables: a short piece of libretto (musical play script) flowing into the song, I Dreamed a Dream.

         She's been laughing at you while she's having her men

         She'll be nothing but trouble again and again

         You must sack her today

         Sack the girl today!

         Right my girl. On your way!

         I Dreamed a Dream
         There was a time when men were kind
         When their voices were soft
         And their words inviting
         There was a time when love was blind
         And the world was a song
         And the song was exciting
         There was a time
         Then it all went wrong
         I dreamed a dream in time gone by
         When hope was high
         And life worth living
         I dreamed that love would never die
         I dreamed that God would be forgiving
         Then I was young and unafraid
         And dreams were made and used and wasted
         There was no ransom to be paid
         No song unsung, no wine untasted
         But the tigers come at night
         With their voices soft as thunder
         As they tear your hope apart
         And they turn your dream to shame
         He slept a summer by my side
         He filled my days with endless wonder
         He took my childhood in his stride
         But he was gone when autumn came
         And still I dream he'll come to me
         That we will live the years together
         But there are dreams that cannot be
         And there are storms we cannot weather
         I had a dream my life would be
         So different from this hell I'm living
         So different now from what it seemed
         Now life has killed the dream I dreamed.

In addition:

          If you missed watching the Tony Awards Ceremony on June 13, Sunday, here are the plays and musicals that won:
          Best Musical: "Memphis"
          Best Revival of a Musical: "La Cage aux Folles"
          Best Play: "Red"
          Best Revival of a Play: "Fences"

          The full list of winners are here:

          For further information on Musical theater's history:


          My Sources for this newsletter:


Lerner, Alan J., The Musical Theater, A Celebration
1986, Da Capo Press Inc.

Green, Stanley, Encyclopedia of Musical Theater, Da Capo.

          Until next time... Smile

                    *Gold**Pencil**Pencil**Gold* *Reading*    Enjoy!    *Reading* *Gold**Pencil**Pencil**Gold*

 Art of Opera Composition  (E)
The art of writing opera is dying because no one knows how to write them.
#1221821 by Fernando1981R

 Ghostlight  (E)
A poem that explores what happens when the theatre closes for the night.
#1295978 by Gilnara Tindomme

 Invalid Item 
This item number is not valid.
#585927 by Not Available.

 Grim Fairy Tale  (13+)
Donkey gets more than what he asked for - courtesy an obliging Ogre.
#1483542 by Just an Ordinary Jyo!

 Invalid Item 
This item number is not valid.
#1637584 by Not Available.

 Invalid Item 
This item number is not valid.
#1651440 by Not Available.

 Pastry Goods served with tasty twist  (E)
A review of the Sydney Opera House performance of 'Sweeney Todd'
#1226999 by Misha

 Spotlight  (E)
This is about the first big play i was in.This paper is for english
#1522853 by AddieSpunk

 Whispers, 5th Row Center, Off-Off B'way  (13+)
A couple is underwhelmed by the latest Off-Off-Broadway smash.
#1583732 by Scott

 Every Type of Person: a comparison essay  (13+)
An essay comparing the opera, La Boheme, to the Rent musical.
#1330730 by A. Schaunard

An excellent story submitted to this newsletter Smile
The Dust Jacket  (13+)
Like threads woven into a jacket, that what we touch adds a shimmer before we pass it on.
#1676761 by Fyntastic!

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Your Drama Newsletter Editors: esprit Adriana Noir Fyntastic! Joywitch
Thank you for reading our newsletters and for supplying us with feedback and encouragement.

*Bullet* This Issue's Tip:
Create motion in your descriptions and narratives by using active, dynamic, high-energy verbs rather than the static to be and other common verbs. Also, choose sensory words with emotional cues. For example,
A tattered plastic bag whistles in the wind.

And a Dare Fitting This Issue's Topic:
Take a story or play you have already written or write a new one. Then change it into a musical play. Send me or to the Drama Newsletter a link for your musical. I'll showcase it in the next issue. Smile


WitChi Woman

One of the best newsletters EVER. Specific theme, great examples, and the questions regarding the lost object are especially useful.

"lost item as the catalyst for solving a problem"
I'm working with this idea at the moment and having a ton of fun.

Glad you mentioned symbolism. I consider the themes of the story like a painting but symbolism is more like working with clay--a 3D effect--light and shadow and depth. I find we write in symbols without realizing we do so. Uncovering them and tying them into the structure creates more opportunities for drama.

Thanks so much for the newsletter.

Thanks for the feedback, Kim. Smile
I'd love to read what you did with the lost item theme. Let me know when you finish it. Smile



Sure wish I'd seen this newsletter before I started this short story, but I was happy to see that I did hit some of your 'lost points' *grin*

Excellent newsletter!

Your story is excellent, too, Fyn. I loved it. Thanks for sending it in and special thanks for the feedback, too. Smile



Wow! Thank you so much for the highlight! And wowzers, I think I might sign up for this newsletter, 'cause this one's really good!

All the best,


Thanks, Andrew.
Here in the Drama NL group, we'd surely like to attract more readers. Smile


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