“Does Anybody Have A Map?”: The Impact of “Virtual Broadway” on Musical Theatre Composition

Chandler, Clare (2021) “Does Anybody Have A Map?”: The Impact of “Virtual Broadway” on Musical Theatre Composition. The Journal of Popular Culture, 54 (2). pp. 276-300. ISSN 0022-3840

Full content URL: https://doi.org/10.1111/jpcu.13013

“Does Anybody Have A Map?”: The Impact of “Virtual Broadway” on Musical Theatre Composition
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Song form, structure, function and ideology are culturally and genre specific. Boiled down to its most basic elements, a pop song is about emotional connection and engagement, whereas its musical theatre cousin is concerned with narrative progression; ‘pop songs are to adjectives what musical theatre songs are to verbs.’ (Lambert, 2015) Lambert articulates a binary perspective on genres, which are actually overlapping in unprecedented ways, in terms of authorship, style, means of distribution, and popularity. This paper explores, not the distinctions, but the points of contact between song forms, with a view to understanding the current creative moment, and, perhaps, anticipating future trends. In contemporary popular music, ‘There are no longer subjective gatekeepers controlling who gets let “in”, promoted and exposed. The choice is ours. Now, anyone can be famous.’ (Price, 2011). This is a transformation also evident in musical theatre, where an upsurge in ‘YouTube musical theatre composers’ (Pasek & Paul, 2015) and social media engagement challenges the dominance of the book musical. Opportunities for self-promotion on the internet are vast, and allow composers to reach a more diverse audience (or wider network), but in what ways do these emerging opportunities also influence the form of works produced. If humans on-line have an average attention span of 8 seconds (Riecke-Gonzales, 2015), for example, this paper considers how musical theatre is evolving to meet the requirements of millennials. The popularity of Dear Evan Hansen - arguably the first truly ‘digital age’ musical (Takiff, 2016)- and Be More Chill provide timely examples of the impact of ‘virtual Broadway’ (Pasek & Paul, 2015) on the musical theatre model. It is both possible and timely to debate the extent to which this hybrid has ‘democratized access to creation and distribution tools’ (Bhargava and Klat, 2017), allowing new voices and models to break through, or has actually limited the genre’s scope. As networks of influence diversify and democratise and the number of people engaging with digital Broadway rises this paper considers the next steps for musical theatre as it discovers the internet.

Keywords:Composition of music, Musical Theatre, Virtual Broadway
Subjects:W Creative Arts and Design > W440 Theatre studies
W Creative Arts and Design > W350 Musicology
W Creative Arts and Design > W300 Music
Divisions:College of Arts > Lincoln School of Creative Arts > Lincoln School of Creative Arts (Performing Arts)
ID Code:50882
Deposited On:08 Sep 2022 15:45

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