BWW Blog: Musical Theatre on The Small Screen
There are so many ways you can absorb theatre but one of the most important and underrated ways is through television. We all know about Glee and the success it had, but most people aren't aware of the other genius musical shows such as Crazy Ex Girlfriend, Galavant, and even Smash, which is probably the most well-known of the three. There have been a handful of different shows with musical elements, but it is rather shocking and disappointing there haven't been more and that the ones that were created didn't receive as much love and admiration as they should have. Now, I never really got into Glee, but I respect what it did and how it got more people interested into theatre. My first musical show I fell in love with, however, was Galavant.
Galavant was a comedy-musical fantasy show on ABC created by DAN FOGELMAN with Alan Menken and Glenn Slater handling the music and lyrics. It was about a knight named Galavant who wanted his own happily ever after with his true love, who was kidnapped by the villain, King Richard. Sadly, it only ran from 2015-2016 for two seasons that consisted of eighteen episodes, but it was a great show. The songs were fantastic, and the humor was a perfect match with the story, even breaking the fourth wall like in season two when talking about their ratings and how people will probably record their show instead of watching it live. I truly believe Galavant was either before its time or it just wasn't probably advertised. It seems, with most musical shows, that they don't last long because the audience doesn't understand the genre or that they don't think they would be interested in something with musical numbers in it. I've always believed this should be different and if more people were exposed to great shows like Galavant, than theatre could be appreciated by a wider audience and more material could be created from it.
Another amazing show I found on Netflix one day a few years ago, was Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, which is now one of my absolute all-time favorite shows I've ever had the pleasure of watching. Crazy-Ex Girlfriend was a show created by Rachel Bloom, who is an absolute genius and an incredibly talented woman. She not only starred in the central role of Rebecca Bloom, but she had a hand in every aspect of the show from the creation to the scripts and to the music of every episode. This is not only hugely inspiring to me as a woman screenwriter and playwright, but she is also a huge inspiration for women everywhere regarding their career and being seen.
Crazy-Ex Girlfriend was about Rebecca Bloom, who is a lawyer from New York City that moves to West Covina, California to essentially stalk after her high school boyfriend Josh Chan. However, the show wasn't just some lovesick venture, it explored deep themes involving mental illness with not only Rebecca but the supporting cast, accepting abortion without shame, the normalization of female sexuality, the effects of parenting, and female empowerment. The show, over the course of its four wonderful seasons it had on CW, went from a cute show that dealt with a crazed love obsession to something so much more that changed TV as we all know it, whether we watched the show or not. Thankfully, we got four outstanding seasons and a completed storyline with Crazy-Ex Girlfriend unlike most other musical shows that get canceled after only one or two seasons.
The third musical show that I fell in love with was Smash, which many theatre lovers know well, but like the other two shows, not many average television watchers are aware of. Smash was a television show, which only had two seasons in 2012 and 2013, and was on NBC. It was created by Theresa Rebeck and was developed by Robert Greenblatt, and had numerous songwriters over the two seasons, such as Marc Shaiman, Scott Wittman, and the dup Benj Pasek and Justin Paul. The central plot of the story was that a theater community in New York City creating a new Broadway musical titled Bombshell, which centered around Marilyn Monroe. In the second season, the musical would compete against another musical called Hit list. The show shinned for two reasons; the casting of musical theatre icons and the well-crafted songs. The cast included major Broadway and musically gifted stars such as Christian Borle, Katharine McPhee, Megan Hilty, Leslie Odom Jr., Jeremy Jordan, Krysta Rodriguez, and Brian d'Arcy James to only named a few. What was great about Smash was that it introduced Broadway and musical theater to a new audience through television, by exploring the process of creating and putting on a show through all the trials and tribulations, even if they may have been exaggerated and dramatized for the sake of television. It was a refreshing and exciting idea to get to engage in this world of theater and find a new appreciation for it. Smash would go through the casting processes of a show, writing the songs, the rehearsals, and the producing troubles. The music was not only catchy but would be used as a plot device and in the actual productions of Bombshell and Hit List. While Smash did have it's set of problems and the reception to the show started to taint after a while, it was still something new and revolutionary for the television audience to experience.
Over the years, I've wished that more shows with musical elements would arise from the ashes of discarded pilot scripts and unappreciative audiences. I could never understand how there's only been a handful musical shows produced, and usually they wouldn't last very long. Musical shows hold such an importance because they are a way of not only getting people interested in theatre but they can also be your source of theatre when you can't make it to a Broadway show or a touring company or even a community theater. My wish is that if a young girl or boy can't experience a Broadway show or doesn't know anything about theatre, that they turn on a television show one day like Crazy Ex-Girlfriend or Galavant and their eyes are opened for the first time to this wonderful community and world of possibilities and that they are forever changed because of it. I have the upmost respect for those who create these wonderful shows and have the courage to try and bring something new and exciting from the theatre world to our homes against all the odds of previous attempts because they were once like those that didn't know about this community or they were like those young theatre goers that didn't have the money or the transportation to experience a show. They are trying to spread the love that comes with this magical and special world. Therefore, I urge not only people who haven't seen these shows but those who want to create musical shows to give it a chance. Musical theatre is one of the greatest gifts we have, and television is one of the great ways to explore it. All we need is more people to be willing to give it a chance.
Here are my five of my favorite songs from each show I mentioned above (in no particular order);
3. Maybe You're Not the Worst Thing Ever - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N8Ba-zsrgMk&list=PL2l-YHNP9imnP8ZgRuHSUWABXSFfEvIRs&index=9
5. Off With His Shirt - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T9rd82ZgE1M&list=PL2l-YHNP9imnP8ZgRuHSUWABXSFfEvIRs&index=31
1. Settle For Me - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IuBN_Nm-qEM
2. It Was A Shit Show (Explicit Version) - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4nlZy8zMN-s
3. Let's Have Intercourse - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-eime5h5eHw
4. Let's Generalize About Men - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QILthc63Hic
5. A Diagnosis - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=66T7w6MkxG8
1. Vienna (Cover) - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qCKhbZw9qSM
2. On Lexington & 52nd Street - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vH9ekEfb9ys
3. Mr. & Mrs. Smith - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m9gEI4NezfM
4. Let Me Be Your Star - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KQwmnn8oarg
5. Broadway, Here I Come! (Hit List Version) - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mDA8YGRHY4g