Favorite Quotes Volume XXXIV: The difference between movies and theatre.
Some people think Michael Riedel is only good for gossip.
Not so, not so!
Last week, Riedel’s column about the soon-to-be-made-for-walking Kinky Boots featured a gem of a quote from Harvey Fierstein that should be featured in every musical theater writing textbook there is (which is probably only about two (I love this one on the subject, btw)).
This is what the award-winning book writer of La Cage and the more recent Newsies had to say about the difference between movies and the theatre:
There’s a huge difference between movies and theater. Movies are about story. Theater is about ideas. You’ve got the story going, but you have to have something more to keep people in their seats for 2 1/2 hours. You have to have something bigger to say than, ‘Oh, we have a shoe factory, let’s make it a hit shoe factory!’ That ain’t really a reason to go to a musical.
Musicals and plays require grander themes or big ideas. Simple stories don’t usually work. We need French Revolution type stuff, or squatters living in the East Village and living with AIDS. We need Producers who try to produce the biggest flop on the planet about Adolph Hitler, or an entire village of people leaving their village and their ‘tradition’ behind.
I’ve often said that movies are about action, and the theater is about characters.
But as Harvey sums up above, you need big stakes if you want your show to succeed on a stage.
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