In this article, I’ll try to explain you what musical is about and at the same time, talk about the technical aspects that come with it. Well by technical definition, it means that musical theatre is a form of theatre that is combining dancing, music, songs as well as spoken dialogue. Some would say that it looks like an opera but, it intentionally avoids its convention to be able to give it a universal appeal.
Score is the term used in referring the musical’s musical component. The sung lines are referred to as lyrics than plain spoken dialogue which is simply as dialogue. It often happens that there are two different people who wrote the lyrics of the musical and its storyline. As a matter of fact, this is a very common practice amongst various musical plays.
Basically, musicals range from few minutes to couple of hours long. Average running time for the modern musicals on the other hand is around 2 hours and 30 minutes with intermission halfway through the entire presentation. Some musicals however go straight through if it isn’t that long. Intermissions when presented are about 10 to 15 minutes long and the average musicals have 20 or 30 songs with some short pieces while others are long.
Most of the musicals often starts with overture that is used to highlight some songs that will be played and at the same time, used to set the mood of the audience for what they’re about to expect. Oftentimes, the highlights and the most dramatic moments of the musicals are carried out in a song. The main reason for this is, these moments are the ones that the creator would want the audience to remember most and it is a lot easier to remember if it’s well done in a 3 to 4 minute song rather than in a 3 to 4 minute spoken dialogue. If the emotion that needs to be conveyed is strong for a song only, then dance will be used to express what is wanted to be shown.
Many think that achieving balance between spoken dialogue and song is quite simple but it is the contrary. On top of that, the writer needs to be careful in writing songs for every character that fits. For instance, an evil villain character isn’t going to sing songs pertaining to love and happiness. It is hard to establish drama in a musical too since a 5 minute song has fewer words to say than a 5 minute spoken dialogue. With this said, everything has to be planned and laid down properly in order for the musical to be carried out flawlessly.