by Kevin Corlett
It seem that the heyday of the Broadway musical has passed. Although that statement holds a certain degree of truth, it all depends on a person's perspective. It is certainly true that the number of younger musical theatre fans, such as myself, is dwindling. Young people in general are guided by the group decisions of their peers. A young person would have to make a conscious effort to become a fan of musical theatre, and even more so to become a fan of Sondheim
A great deal of the music that young people listen to is not truly heard, but merely absorbed. By repeatedly showing a music video, or playing a song on the radio, the media controls the music industry. By repeatedly hearing a song as mere background noise, eventually the lyrics, and with them the meaning sink in. This is actually a convenient method of listening to music, for if you simply put on a CD while you are working on something else, after the disc repeats itself a few times, you will more than likely find yourself singing along. This happens to young people all the time, and since no musical is played on the radio stations that they listen to, they don't hear it unless they actually buy the album and play it over and over.
I would never have stumbled upon Sondheim if it were not for the drama teacher who showed me the American Playhouse video of Into the Woods. As the video began, my mind was closed, assuming I was going to hate it. You, see my entire experience with Broadway musicals had been through Andrew Lloyd Webber, who seems to garner more than his fair share of the media afforded to Broadway in general.
I believe that a great deal of young people would enjoy this music if it had received the same degree of exposure as the other music they listen to. But in a world where the star musicians are chosen as much by the music industry as by the general public, Broadway is not profitable enough to market. In conclusion, this downward trend is likely to continue for quite a while, unless more young people make a solid effort to expose themselves to these beautiful scores.
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