Skip to main content Skip to footer site map

BWW Blog: Telling Orginal Stories

Theatre is a tricky business. You want to tell new and original stories, but at the same time you want to make sure the money invested in a new show is well spent, and you'll make that money back. So what do you do? Well as the case has been lately for a good portion of the musicals on Broadway, you rely on content people already know and love. How many musicals do we see nowadays, that are based on movies? How many of them are jukebox musicals, where they take the music of a singer/band's life and use it to tell their story? How many of the musicals that are shown today are from Disney? How many upcoming musicals all fit these descriptions? Most of them do. Mean Girls, Beetlejuice, Tootsie, Spongebob the Musical, Mrs. Doubtfire, Aladdin, Moulin! Rouge, the list could go on. All of them and more based on already existing content, such as movies, or songs. More and more of these types of musicals are overwhelming Broadway, and it is becoming harder and harder to find these original stories.

Now I do understand that these are creative in their own ways for they are taking something that already exists, and presenting it in a new format, whether it be adding songs to an already existing story, or taking songs that already exist and forming a story based around them, or even finding a way to translate the story that exists onto the stage. That all takes a form of creativity.

However, I have to acknowledge the fact that these are stories people already know, so it is a guarantee that no matter the quality of the show people are going to pay to see their favorite movie come to life on stage. That musical's of this caliber are guaranteed, money makers and will provide a good profit for those involved in it. People will shell out money to see the story of their favorite singers and hear the music they grew up loving. People will shell out money to see stories they already know but with songs added to it. In the end, the producers will pick the shows that people are guaranteed to pay for. And if that show is a story the people already know versus an original show that no one can guarantee it will be a success, the producers will pick the show people already know.

It all boils down to what will make the most money. Parents will pay to take their kids to see a Disney musical, or Spongebob the musical because it is something the kid will know. It is guaranteed to be a moneymaker. Musicals, like Beetlejuice, Mean Girls, Mrs. Doubtfire, and eventually Back to the Future and The Devil Wears Prada, are being made into musicals because they are movies that most people enjoy and will pay to see over and over. Musicals such as Jersey Boys, or Tina Turner will make good money because it is based around music people already love and enjoy and will want to hear live.

I understand in the end the show must make money so it can keep going, but if broadway just keeps turning out musicals in this fashion, there will be no more room for original shows, with original stories, and original plotlines. You can present the argument that shows like Hamilton and Hadestown, are based on already existing content, and therefore are a part of the problem. Yes, both shows are based on existing content, but here is how they differ from shows like Mean Girls, and others. Hamilton and Hadestown took the existing content of history and ancient Greek myths and created something brand new from it. They told those stories, but with such a twist it created something new that has never been done before.

Theatre in the end is about pushing the boundaries, not playing it safe with shows that you know will sell, and make money. Theatre was based on telling stories that no one else dared to tell. It's about redefining what it means to tell a story. I think somewhere along the way we as artists lost that spark. The spark to create something, and be unsure whether it succeeds or not. It doesn't matter if a show is a success or not, and rakes in millions of dollars. What matters is you are pushing the boundaries, and daring to try something new.

So what I hope what you all take from this, is to not stop creating. Keep writing your original songs, music, and scripts. Look for those original stories. Take chances on musicals you've never heard just because they are not on broadway. Look for those original stories. Write those original stories. Be the artist you know you are and dare to do something more than making easy money, and don't give up on them either. It is hard to get original stories out there but if you keep working on it, and find ways for your voice to be heard. Then people will listen. Make your voice heard. Tell your story.

Related Stories

From This Author - Student Blogger: Maria Pauer

BWW Blog: Putting on A Show During The PandemicBWW Blog: Putting on A Show During The Pandemic
October 2, 2020

This week is our first and only week of rehearsal as I get ready to help put on the production of Waiting for Lefty for my college SUNY New Paltz

BWW Blog: College Theatre Amidst the PandemicBWW Blog: College Theatre Amidst the Pandemic
September 10, 2020

I have been at SUNY New Paltz for about two weeks now. I am currently staying on campus, and I will admit I am nervous about everything. How can you not be? COVID-19 is still a huge problem, and people are still not taking it seriously.

BWW Blog: Advice to My Younger SelfBWW Blog: Advice to My Younger Self
August 24, 2020

I am going to get straight to the point, theatre is not easy.

BWW Blog: An Interview with Brittany ProiaBWW Blog: An Interview with Brittany Proia
August 13, 2020

I had the absolute pleasure to interview SUNY New Paltz Professor Brittany Proia who has taught me Speech for the Stage and Acting One in my time at the school so far.

BWW Blog: The Artist Versus the TechnicianBWW Blog: The Artist Versus the Technician
July 28, 2020

The technician provides foundations that are necessary to be an actor.