7 Reasons Actors in Movie Musicals Deserve More Credit

In film culture, musicals are one of the most underappreciated genres. As a life long theatre buff and horrible singer, I have the utmost respect for actors and actresses who can successfully pull off a song and dance number. Here are seven of the many reasons why.

1. More Badass Than You Would Think

The Musical genre is often generalized as a collection of hyperactive dance numbers, irritatingly catchy melodies and Vaseline soaked smiles. Watch something other than Mama Mia though and you’ll see there’s a lot more substance beneath those neon unitards. Musicals have a history of dark material (Sweeney Todd, Les Miserables) and/or addressing social problems (West Side Story, Hair).  Musical protagonists often rebel against oppressive societies. The fact that Musical heroes can kick ass while carrying a tune just gives Jason Statham more reasons to be ashamed of himself. Great material can be found in any genre; don’t let your fear of feather boas restrict the roles you pursue. You risk the loss of career-making-role with this attitude.

2. Physical flexibility= Career flexibility

Advice for those with young boys; don’t force them into hockey- ask if they want to dance. There is such intensity, esteem and endurance in dance that I am amazed people find watching men throw balls at each other more impressive. The entertainment industry can be a shallow one, especially if you’re an actor. Being physically fit enough for a range of performances only increases your chance of being discovered.And hey, dance and fight choreography got a lot of things in common, so if Hugh Jackman can do it, you can too.

3. Only A Select Few Can Do It

I am a man who respects rare talent. There are only so many people who are really great singers- and many more who should be banned to the deepest depths of their basement singing karaoke for eternity. Dancing and acting are skills; a beautiful voice is a gift and to not share that is tragic. Don’t be embarrassed of your talents, be that special little snowflake you are. In life, everyone has something that will give them a unique advantage over you and its foolish not to use yours. If you still think anyone can sing, please click here.

4. Acting is fundamentally lyrical  

Acting is more musical than you would expect. Any scene follows a rhythm with emotional beats that are developed by the performer. Even if you’re not the best singer or dancer, physical training- learning how to move your body and effect your voice- makes you a better actor. Follow the rhythm!

5. Understand Passion  

You have to be fearless to bare your soul to an audience. People (Canadians) don’t generally wear their hearts on their sleeves, but no one hides their emotions all the time.  Don’t be melodramatic, but allow your character to be vulnerable. Musical sequences provide excellent moments for actors to, quite literally, sing their hearts out. Musical numbers serve as an outlet for emotions that dialogue just can’t quite convey. If you took the risk to become an actor, don’t let insecurity squander your potential- sing it baby!

6. Charisma Up 20 Points!    

NPH. He’s so popular I bet I don’t even need to write out his full name. Believe it or not, for the longest time he was simply Doogie Howser, child doctor. Where other child stars ended up working autograph booths at ComicCon, NPH spent years working on Broadway to showcase talents no one knew about. Musicals rely on their star’s charm and dedication to win the audience. When successful, they not only expose an actor’s talent but also their ability to entertain and charm.  Who knows, maybe that local production of Oklahoma is the stepping stone to becoming Hollywood’s next go-to host.

7. Refreshing Lack Of Irony

What attracted me to musicals as a child was their sincerity. The mixture of extraordinary spectacle and exuberant expression is a gigantic middle finger to a culture that praises restraint and stoicism. I’m sure there’s many times in your life when you wished you could  grandly declare your love for someone in public with a 12 piece orchestra and well choreographed dance troop as your backup. In this regard, a great movie musical is a small victory for all. As actors and as audience members, we are allowed to let our guard down and just enjoy. With all the stress and problems we have, why not have a couple of minutes to hum a little tune in the rain?