The relationship between love and art is complicated, and nowhere is this more true than the polarizing world of musicals. In films or on stage, musicals are often fervently loved or deeply loathed.
Those of you in love with this art form are no doubt singing with delight over the resurgence of so many great movie musicals. In the Heights, Tick, Tick…Boom, West Side Story, Disney’s Encanto, and coming later this month a musical adaptation of Cyrano de Bergerac starring the incomparable Peter Dinklage who is, in my opinion, the best actor of the generation.
For those of you less enthused by this trend, I lost you at the first sentence, and that’s ok. Not everything is for everyone and for this, our world is a richer and more interesting place.
If you are still reading, perhaps you are like me. I am on the fence in this area. In the words of my husband, “I don’t hate musicals, but if it’s between a musical and something else, I’d probably choose something else.” On the other hand, I must admit that I was forever changed in 1995 by a Broadway performance of Rent. More recently, I remember with vivid clarity the day that a friend asked “have you heard this?” and the first refrain of Hamilton broke my brain.
Musicals that win me over allow the characters to experience emotions so big, unbridled, and powerful that words alone cannot express them. Music, lyrics, and the actor’s performance combine to make something greater than the sum of its parts. When it is simply not possible to contain such intense feelings, a song bursts into the scene and we experience a connection that transcends language alone, like the unspoken communication in a hug, or a smile.
Although I am electrified by the prospect of a new Peter Dinklage film, this upcoming Cyrano is Schrodinger’s Cat; both potentially terrible and wonderful all at the same time. I cannot wait to see the romance and anguish of this beautiful story but I am on pins and needles about the songs. Will they seduce us or deflate us? Like a great love, we’re just going to have to take the chance to find out.