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I saw a friend the other day at Two Sisters Bakery. I hadn’t seen her in a while, so we tried to do a bit of catching up. She told me she had been commercial fishing all summer, and I really had nothing to say about that, since I can count the times I’ve been fishing on one hand. (Besides, fishing is a job, and no one likes to be asked about their job.) Then she asked what I’d been up to. Working, parenting… oh, and I did a play this summer! It was so much fun, the most I’ve had in the theater since before I can remember! Little Shop of Horrors!! (Internal yay!)
“Oh,” she said. She turned back to the case of sandwiches and pastries for a moment. Then she looked at me again. “Isn’t that a musical or something?” I told her it was, and I gibbered a bit, because… a musical or something? A musical or something?? Little Shop of Horrors IS a musical, it’s true, but it’s so much more: comedy, science fiction, horror, schlock extravaganza… I could have gone on until the staff at Two Sisters put the stools up on the counter and cleaned the flour out of their ears on the way out the door, but I was so taken aback by my friend’s dismissive tone that I couldn’t find the words. I finally managed, “It was awesome.”
“I don’t like musicals,” she said, wrinkling her nose.
There was a time when I would have taken it personally. I would have seen it as a message that she didn’t approve of my choice of pursuits, that what I do, what I LOVE, wasn’t cool enough for her. Thank the gods that time has passed and I can respond appropriately to her statement. WHAT THE FUCK IS WRONG WITH YOU, YOU DON’T LIKE MUSICALS.
To me, it’s an inherently ignorant thing to say (unless you are deaf/Deaf or hearing impaired, in which case it makes perfect sense). It’s a bit like saying, “I don’t like oil paintings.” No one would say “I don’t like oil paintings.” Why? Because the MEDIUM is not important. Because the content, experience, and story contained within the oil painting is more important than the fact that it is a painting done with oils. Because the range of possibilities to be created with oil paints is so great that you can’t see one side from the other, and one oil painting might have more in common with an interpretive dance or the Gettysburg address than with another oil painting.
I don’t care if you’re talking oil paints, musicals, or a ball of god-damned twine. Someone, somewhere, is going to be able to say something moving and innovative with the medium.
That said, it’s true that there are a great many awful musicals that might put someone off of the genre. There are also a great many awful oil paintings, some of them hanging on the walls of the Duncan House right now. (If the… artist… who painted those is reading this, I’m not talking about your paintings. I mean the other oil paintings hanging on the walls of the Duncan House. Right now.) But the range of musicals is great. The admittedly somewhat bizarre tradition of getting on stage and telling a story through song and dance can hold just as much truth and beauty as any art form.
Singin’ in the Rain!
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Little Shop of Horrors!
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I understand that some people just don’t like musicals, the way some people just don’t like avocados (even though avocados are extra-delicious). It’s a matter of taste. But I believe that taste is much more influenced by our openness than is commonly believed. People who are ready to try new things, even things that are off-putting at first, are much more likely to enjoy things like monkey brains or macaroni and cheese with hot dogs than people who already know they don’t like those things. And people who already know they don’t like musicals are missing out on a unique way to tell and be told the stories of humanity.
But whatever, more avocado for me.