Interpreting Musical Theater

February 24, 2016

  So this week, the contestants of The Cyber Academy are hard at work preparing for the musical theatre show. Inspired by my trip to New York, they are all...

 

So this week, the contestants of The Cyber Academy are hard at work preparing for the musical theatre show.

Inspired by my trip to New York, they are all working on learning songs that are currently are being performed on Broadway. For a lot of the singers, this is very different than their usual styles and so tensions are running high. So to help them, I thought do my blog early this week and give them a loving hand.

So ….. interpreting — so when you’re doing a musical theatre number, it’s a little different than a cover of a song. It’s not just singing – it’s also acting!  You have to become that character — yes you can add your own touches (and you should) but you have to be true to the character that you’re creating.

So what do I mean? Does this mean mimicking? Not at all! There’s different ways you can approach it.

Wikipedia had a great little write up (https://en.wikipedia.wik/List_of_acting_techniques)

 

  • Classical acting is an umbrella term for a philosophy of acting that integrates the expression of the body, voice, imagination, personalizing, improvisation, external stimuli, and script analysis. It is based on the theories and systems of select classical actors and directors including Konstantin Stanislavski and Michel Saint-Denis.
  • In Stanislavski’s system, also known as Stanislavski’s method, actors draw upon their own feelings and experiences to convey the “truth” of the character they are portraying. The actor puts himself or herself in the mindset of the character finding things in common in order to give a more genuine portrayal of the character.
  • Method acting is a range of techniques based on for training actors to achieve better characterizations of the characters they play, as formulated by Lee Strasberg. Strasberg’s method is based upon the idea that in order to develop an emotional and cognitive understanding of their roles, actors should use their own experiences to identify personally with their characters. It is based on aspects of Stanislavski’s system. Other acting techniques are also based off Stanislavski’s ideas, such as those of Stella Adler and Sanford Meisner, but these are not considered “method acting”.[1]
  • Meisner technique requires the actor to focus totally on the other actor as though he or she is real and they only exist in that moment. This is a method that makes the actors in the scene seem more authentic to the audience. It is based on the principle that acting finds its expression in people’s response to other people and circumstances. Is it based on Stanislavski’s system.

 

So what does this mean for someone singing a musical theatre — it isn’t about you — it’s about the character you’re singing, the character you are creating. You have to become a vessel for the character to come out through you. It’s your chance to step out of your comfort zone and really try new things.

Personally, I’m a student of a few methods: Classical, Stanislavski, Method, and Meisner techniques. I find if I have a clear understand of my character, am able to put myself in his/her shoes, and then focus on the other actor as if it is real and authentic moment – I can create a real moment in time and be true to the music and the scene I am creating. And for me, Classical is more about all the training I’ve done and continue to do — what I use to do able to do the other methods.

 

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Hope this helps the contestants, and anyone who loves to sing musical theatre!

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