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Why The American Musical Theater Is Doomed

 

 

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WHY THE AMERICAN MUSICAL THEATER IS DOOMED

One word: Disney.

Disney is both the musical symptom and the disease, a brightly colored cancer poisoning your children's minds and what there is left of American "culture."

Their Baby Einstein products turned out to be a fake, a mere marketing ploy designed to get you to spend your money with them in the hopes of a smarter child.

Disney executives saw that "childhood musical development" was selling well to the American mind, and looked for a profitable product they could hang it on.

Baby Einstein, a nice use of buzz words like Mozart, was really all marketing and no substance, and headed by a marketing genius. So Disney went all the way with a childhood development project.

But good marketing does not necessarily make a product good for your child's musical development.

And that is Disney's modus: worthless products marketed as education and entertainment.

They have done the same for Broadway, with Disney and other corporations taking over almost all production and putting out of work the real theater artists who took lifetimes and decades to master the craft, substituting talentless Hollywood yes-people who will do their bidding and make the most profitable show, regardless of real theatrical quality.

A Disney Broadway show may fool kids but it doesn't fool me. 

Disney hires the least talented artists who will:

  1. Toe their line and turn out bland, meaningless material that they can SELL
  2. Work at the lowest possible, sweatshop rates

When they hire theater composers now, they hire the blandest, most conventional hacks who turn out Shrek 8 in the perfect knowledge that it will sell almost as well as Shrek 7.

The public has no idea of the wealth of American musical talent, which has been disenfranchised by mega entertainment companies like Disney.

People whine about, "But where are the Bernsteins and Richard Rodgers of today?"

I'll tell you where: they're either dead from starvation or sitting by their phone trying to figure out how to get SOMETHING produced and performed.

But the "Circle of Life" for theater composers today is CLOSED, open only to the weak talents and minds willing to turn out the corporate slop Disney creates, unless of course you're a celebrity, in which case Disney is eager to present your anything you dare to call your "work."

What is the difference between a musical of today and the classic period of Broadway?

Let's take a look:

  1. Disney musicals are written by celebrities and performed by other celebrities. Go ahead and see an Elton John musical about the life of Elvis starring Tony Danza. The real musicals were written by NOBODIES who had talent. Talent and integrity were qualities composers actually possessed, regardless of their social position and tabloid credentials.
  2. Thinks about it: you are a Disney executive and are presented with two possible projects:  an Elton John musical about the life of Elvis starring Tony Danza OR an original, worthy piece of theater written by an utter, desperate nobody. Even an idiot knows which project the executive chooses. This has been going on since the 1980s, and the pool of real talent is GONE from Broadway, replaced by tinseled yes-men who promote the Disney celebrity show model or its clones. (And by the way, that original, worthy piece of theater presented by the nobody above will probably appear as a clever piece three years later starring or written by a celebrity. At the top, people like Disney steal your material because they know you are too poor to sue, and they are smart enough to change the material and cover their tracks. The next time you think a CONTRACT will enforce your rights in the shobiz-theater world, think again: your opponent will have more lawyers than you, and far more money to protect their rights. You will lose, my friend. Goliath wins in shobiz, sorry, kids) 
  3. The new Disney model has zero social or artistic adventurousness. They often take a movie that has sold and make it into a musical, regardless of the appropriateness of that setting, because they can people it with celebrities and those phonies that cater to celebrity. The PACKAGE is far more important to the Disney executive than the actual content of the musical. Do you honestly think you can produce another WEST SIDE STORY in that production atmosphere? 
  4. Real musicals were written by teams of writers, usually two. Disney musicals are written by committee, with a money man calling the shots. In the words of my friend, Rupert Holmes, the author of a fine musical, EDWIN DROOD, and the composer of the pop song PINA COLADA, "The production of a musical nowadays is the process of dilution. Whatever composerly idea you had in the beginning better be very strong indeed, because the Disney guys will file off the edges, sand down the detail, all in an effort to make it saleable and please ALL the members of the committee. What you get is mush, but it sells because Disney can make anything sell." Pardon my paraphrase, Rupert.

Thus Americans have only the culture that Disney has paid for them to have.

Americans should not whine about "There are no more Leonard Bernsteins." The Bernstein's of today are out there, silenced by the idiot production methods of the big corporations and gangsters that now control Broadway and ALL of the pitiful American culture. 

In the old days, you could walk in off the street, and if you had a good idea, you might have a shot at getting it produced in the American theater.

Today if you go into Disney the same way, and they will look disdainfully at you (if you can get that far past the agents and the cronies and the sycophants and the flacks, all wanting their piece of your pie) and say, "It's a wonderful show, but you're a NOBODY. We're doing Eminem's Shrek 9 with Tony Danza." 

By John Aschenbrenner Copyright 2010 Walden Pond Press All Rights Reserved

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THE COMPLETE BOOK PACKAGE: 

1. 107 page illustrated THE CHRISTMAS CAROL KIT Book with 44 songs, Play Along Audio CD, and removable stickers   

2. 120 page illustrated PIANO IS EASY Book with 50 songs, Play Along Audio CD, and removable stickers 

3. 50 page I CAN READ MUSIC Book 

4. 132 page TEACH YOURSELF PIANO STEP BY STEP Book, 56 minute DVD Video and removable stickers 

5. 141 page THE BIG BOOK OF SONGS BY NUMBER Book with 130 songs, and removable stickers 

6. 88 page EASY CLASSICAL PIANO BY NUMBER Book with 10 songs, and removable stickers, and 29 minute Play Along Audio CD 

6 BOOKS, DVD AND 3 PLAY ALONG AUDIO CDS 

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