There is so much to learn from working on classic Broadway showtunes. I’m devoting this post to learning traditional, classic musical theatre for kids of all ages (and yes, this can even include those who are young at heart).
As a voice teacher, it is extremely important to me that my students know songs from the Golden Age of musical theatre. While searching for audition material, some students are so focused on finding obscure or new songs and avoiding “overdone” songs that they somehow miss learning about Oklahoma, The Music Man, and My Fair Lady. This is certainly an impediment to their progress as performers. We can learn so much from these classic musicals about the history of this American art form as well as the development of healthy vocal technique and song study.
I encourage all of my students to study at least one song by each of these classic Broadway composers and lyricists: Rodgers & Hammerstein, Frank Loesser, Lerner & Loewe, George Gershwin, Cole Porter, and Comden & Green. If you are unfamiliar with any of these musical theatre writers, please find out more! Look up the names and see if you recognize any of their shows or songs. If you don’t, find and play this music at home, in the car, or wherever is best for you and learn through listening!
Here is a video that explores two classic Broadway songs for young performers:
I had the absolute privilege to see Starlight Express at West Potomac High School this past Friday night. To be completely honest, it is a show that I knew very little about and have never seen before. Here’s what I knew coming into the theatre on Friday night: the title song (I think I heard this on a demo cassette tape when I was in elementary school), roller skating, Andrew Lloyd Webber, and that’s it.
Let me say right now that I do not write reviews and that is certainly not the purpose of my blog. I had an idea of what I would write about (vocal characteristics of Andrew Lloyd Webber and finding audition material) and have completely changed direction. On Friday night, I was blown away! I do not say this lightly. Starlight Express is a rarely performed show (at least in the United States) and is a story that is great for all ages. West Potomac High School’s production is visually stunning, full of energy, and moving in the best possible ways. If you auditioned and were cast in this show , it was an extraordinary opportunity for students to learn to roller skate. The skate choreography was exciting to watch and kept the audience fully engaged in the show!
I could certainly hear Andrew Lloyd Webber’s musical stylings throughout Starlight Express. He has a way of using different styles of music (pop, opera, country, even hip hop) to tell a story through music alone. The ensemble cast showcases their vocal abilities through strong harmonies in the group showstoppers. It gives me goosebumps just thinking about that sound resonating throughout the theatre.
The overriding theme of this post: seize your opportunities! If you can learn to roller skate, sing with some twang in your voice, travel to another country, work with a director or teacher that is passionate about their work, see a new show, hike to the top of mountain, DO IT. It will make you a better actor, a better performer, a better human being. And if you’re in the DC Metro area, RUN to West Potomac High School’s production of Starlight Express. It is not to be missed!