The Future of Musicals

Recently, I was thinking about the trends of Broadway-style musicals in animation. This art form was given stature, as we all know, by Disney, as well as by DreamWorks (in the case of the latter, only during the early years of the studio, and only with the hand-drawn films). The trend worked well for a while (all throughout the '90s, in fact, and early into the 2000s) but at some point they proved to have become rather predictable, so their popularity waned, but then re-surged with the release of THE PRINCESS AND THE FROG back in 2009, and with all of the films since.

This got me to wondering, though: Will there ever come a time when people loose interest in musical theatre entirely? Knowing that all who visit this site are aficionados of the medium, it's a disheartening thought, but is it even remotely possible that musical theatre will die out completely?


  • Let me state for the record, if that day comes, I hope I won't be around.
  • edited April 2015
    Let me put it this way: the "Broadway Musical" is sort of gone. Not entirely, and not musicals on Broadway. But so many of the current crop of writers have to come up from Off-Broadway. (Hell, so many of our legendary writers like John Kander and Stephen Sondheim have been forced to work Off-Broadway, though I think neither gentleman is upset by that. They want to see their work done as much as anyone else.) Years ago, when folks like Kander and Ebb and Sondheim (and Bock and Harnick, Jerry Herman, Cy Coleman, etc.) were coming up, they had the opportunity to be produced on Broadway, maybe fail, but probably get produced again and have an eventual success.

    But beginning in the 1980s and 90s, Ahrens and Flaherty, William Finn, Adam Guettel, Jeanine Tesori, and certainly Howard and Alan, weren't FORCED to work there, but found Off-Broadway to be a more welcoming environment. Producers aren't as willing to take chances-- weren't really then, especially aren't now. Of course, each of those writers have found success on Broadway, but not right away. That's not how it used to be, and not how it should be.

    Musicals will continue to be produced on Broadway, but the really good, really unique ones, with few exceptions, won't be originated there unless there's some known commodity involved. Some sure thing. I don't think the musical theater will die. People will continue to want to tell stories through songs, just as people will want to tell stories without them via non-musical plays. I certainly do. But things have changed, and not for the better. I missed the boat. Other folks feel the same way. Oh well. We'll keep writing.

    I still think that there's financial success to be found on Broadway of you write musicals, even if your work begin Off-Broadway and transfers. I think that's less so, maybe even nonexistent, for playwrights. The days of long-running Neil Simon (or Edward Albee) hits are very sadly gone. I think that's really a shame. But that's another matter...
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