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how NOT to write a musical... NMI Founding Director JOHN SPARKS

words of wisdom from John

My blog takes the point of view that no one really knows “how to,” so we have to sort of back into success by studying what others have done, comparing classic shows with current ones, and applying litcrit values to works from Showboat to Hamilton, and beyond.  You will read some short posts devoted to points of craft, and some longer ones devoted to critical analysis and musings.  Please join the discussions.  I look forward to your comments.

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Naked Assessments of a Century of Musicals

My mentor, Lehman Engel was wont to say, “We all know it will sound better when Ethel Merman sings it wearing a green sequined dress – but for now let’s focus on the writing.” I have written four basic monthly essays. 1) How a musical lover’s first legit show is...

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Musical Theatre Lyrics

Hmmm.  It all starts with the book, But everyone wants to come out humming the music.  Still the fact is that, since the early 1920s, the American musical has always been distinguished by the sophistication of its lyrics.  There was a lot of word play in the...

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Music and Musical Theatre

If, as I believe, it all starts with the book, then what is the role of music in a musical?  Big topic. The well-made Tin Pan Alley tune (usually 32 bars in four 8-bar sections with the form A-A-B-A) was the preferred popular song form in the western world from 1925...

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It’s All About The Book!

Theatre, from the Greeks to the present day, is basically a narrative story-telling form. Certainly grand opera and modern musical theatre support that tradition. The revues and song catalogue shows that do not feature a story are greatly outnumbered by the bulk of...

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The First Time is Best

I’ve always loved musicals. First in the movies (I wanted to grow up to be Fred Astaire), then in summer theatres in New England (mostly in tents), and finally on Broadway. My first “legit” musical was a pre-Broadway performance in Boston in 1957. The show was...

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