A Musical By Any Other Name is . . .

A script came into our e-submission pile the other day that got my attention.  Unfortunately, not in the “OMG – I gotta read this one right now” way.

The title page was perfectly formatted.  That wasn’t it.  But there was a little extra something on it . . . like a double garnish on a dinner plate.

Underneath the title and the author’s name, it said . . .

“A dark dramedy with music.”

Excuse me for a moment, but WTF is that?

It’s unique . . . for sure . . . and I know, I know, I preach that the key to success with your project is making it unique in some shape or form.

But let the work speak for itself. Don’t feel that you have to come up with a moniker that actually just confuses anyone picking it up . . . and more importantly, makes the reader think, “This writer actually doesn’t know what their piece is.”

Want to label your show before you submit?  Here’s what I suggest you choose from:

– Play
– Musical

And scene.

Ok, if you feel your targeted reader is only looking for a specific style of show, you could say:

– Comedy
– Drama

But that’s it.

And what about if your Play has some music in it?  I still think it’s a Play.  I don’t think people jump to read “plays with music” more than plays, so I’d go with Play or Musical.

Keep it simple.  Otherwise you may just confuse your reader . . . or worse, make the reader think you’re confused.


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  • Frank says:

    Haha. This post made me literally laugh.


  • Dan Radakovich says:

    That is…odd, but perhaps it is just some incidental music. or orchestral only? Would one call “Bridge over the River Kwai” a musical just because the cast whistles the “Colonel Bogey March?” People going to it for that purpose would no doubt feel cheated. In the novel I adapted there is a fair bunch of music I just cut out of the play adaptation, from old frat and sorority songs [a pinning ceremony medley from “Sweetheart of Sigma Chi” and others] to another whistling chorus [“On Brave old Army Team”] and a probably fun rock parody song based on an old ad slogan[“You can feel the breeze in your BVDs”] mainly from length considerations not play vs. musical confusion. Or for example take Branaugh’s version of Shakespeare’s Henry V with the “Non Nobis” chorus at the end.[It should also have a “Te Deum” in it, for those unfamiliar the English variant is the old hymn “Holy God We Praise Thy Name”] but no-one should call H V a musical thereby.

  • Most of us hope a curmudgeon isn’t reading our play. “A dark dramady with music” is confusing Really?

  • Shannon D. says:

    I’m thinking the complete opposite …. “A dark dramedy with music.” makes me WANT to read that play, and want to SEE that play… but that’s just my opinion as a theatre goer.

  • RICK says:

    …….Keep it simple. Otherwise you may just confuse your reader . . . or worse, make the reader think you’re confused…..

    G….THE MUSICAL…or as some might say Everything you wanted to know about the character of the show that was so misunderstood that..I could go on and on and ooonnnn….wait!!!…. …OMG…will it ever end?…Rick STOP!!!!….Thanks Ken!

  • Brian says:

    I worked on the Toronto production of “The Phantom of the Opera.” We received a resume for a production position one day and the cover letter began, “It has always been my dream to work in horror musical theatre…”

  • Brian Mulholland says:

    If a reader’s format sensibilities are such that he feels it’s inappropriate to “over-specify” what a play is (“a dark dramedy with music”), that’s one thing. It’s also one thing for a reader to HIMSELF be confused about a label that falls into a category unfamiliar to him. But it certainly doesn’t explain how he could conclude that the WRITER is “confused” about what his play is. Being overly specific is hardly a sign of confusion — if anything, it’s the opposite. So what WOULD explain a reader reaching such a “conclusion”? Alas, the answer is that such a reader has something of a reading comprehension problem — and we all know that such readers ABOUND. The theatre today is absurdly populated with literary assistants who are utterly unqualified to hold such positions, yet even more absurdly, they are the Keepers of the Gate — if your script doesn’t get past them, it gets nowhere. Many of these are still pimply-faced early-twenty-somethings who’ve never read a play written before 1980, whose theatre/literary education is so deficient as to render them professionally dysfunctional.

  • Nancy Sharpe says:

    New Musical North American Premiere in Upstate NY, Auburn’s Merry-Go-Round Theater until July 20th.
    “From Here to Eternity” based on book by James Jones, lyrics by Stuart Brayson and Tim Rice. Really Good Theater.
    Catch it if you can.

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