There’s a classic musical theater axiom that states within the first fifteen minutes of any musical, the lead character or protagonist must have what is known as an “I want” song. Click here for a more thorough analysis or here to read Stephen Schwartz’s commentary on the subject.
I’m definitely a subscriber to this Lehman Engel school of thought, and look for it in all the musicals I read, write and produce.
But lately I’ve been thinking that as much as I love the strength and determination of a “want”, what seems to be necessary for a musical is more than just a “want”. I can want an ice cold coke. I can want to take a vacation. But that doesn’t seem like enough.
For a character to break out into song, the themes must be grander. Love, adventure, immortality, revenge, justice and so forth are more the kinds of things necessary to start a musical engine.
So, I’ve stopped thinking about what a character wants . . . and have started thinking about what a character dreams.
Since audiences love to watch a character’s dreams come true (because it gives them the hope that theirs may come true as well) it seems more fitting to hear about these in the first fifteen.
It’s a subtle difference, mind you, but an important one in my “book”.
Dreams are worth dying for. And it’s those kinds of grand themes that make for the most compelling musicals.
(BTW, if you’re looking for a great book on writing musicals, read Mr. Engel’s classic, Words with Music.)
(Got a comment? I love ‘em, so comment below! Email subscribers, click here, then scroll down, to say what’s on your mind!)
- Win tickets to see Stick Fly on Broadway. Enter here!
- Take a Broadway Road Trip! From Mass on 2/4 and From DC on 2/25! Click here!
- SEMINAR ALERT: Get Your Show Off the Ground Seminar: 2/18. Only 2 spots left! Sign up today!
SIGN UP TODAY
Ken’s Current Shows
MOST POPULAR BLOG POSTS
CATEGORIES10 Qs for Broadway Pros
Fun on a Friday
Invest in Broadway Shows
Overheard At Angus
Questions From Readers
The Most Popular Posts of the Month
Theater Things That Don't Make Sense
Things To See
Upcoming SeminarsMay17Sat11:00 am How To Raise Money for your Show @ DTE StudioHow To Raise Money for your Show @ DTE StudioMay 17 @ 11:00 am – 5:00 pmTo view alternate dates for “How to Raise Money for Your Show” Click Here. Ever since I started teaching my Get Your Show Off The Ground and Broadway Investing [...]Jun16Mon7:00 pm How to Nail Your Audition Workshop @ The Davenport StudiosHow to Nail Your Audition Workshop @ The Davenport StudiosJun 16 @ 7:00 pm – 9:00 pmTo view alternate dates for the “How to Nail Your Audition Workshop″ click here. Do you want to improve your chances of getting your dream role? [...]Jun21SatAug16Sat11:00 am How To Raise Money for your Show @ DTE StudioHow To Raise Money for your Show @ DTE StudioAug 16 @ 11:00 am – 5:00 pmTo view alternate dates for “How to Raise Money for Your Show” Click Here. Ever since I started teaching my Get Your Show Off The Ground and Broadway Investing [...]
Ken’s Top 5 Reads
Purple Cow: Transform Your Business...
The Writers Journey: Mythic Structure for Writers