Caitlin Learns Musical Theatre with Lorinda
Updated: Jun 30, 2022
I am back with another week of lessons here with our wonderful TKAM staff. Today I had a drama/musical theatre lesson with Lorinda. Lorinda studied musical theatre in her undergraduate degree and has also directed a few musical shows! Lorinda was a pleasure to be taught by, she gave me such a rich history of musical theatre and how it came to be, which as she says, is important to understanding musical theatre in itself and how it has developed to what it is today. Musical theatre is a triple threat, including singing, dancing and acting. Having an equal skill level in all three is important because each is an essential part to the storyline of the musical.
Lorinda discussed the history of musical theatre, directing me to its origin, seen through shows by groups who would travel town to town putting on performances whether this was acting, signing, playing an instrument or demonstrating a talent. Fast forward to ancient Greece, where theatres were created and where much of our modern day understanding of acting comes from. She explained the common belief of thespians which is what some musical theatre performers will call themselves from the traditional belief of an actor named Thespis defying the chorus of the musical theatre in Greece and stepping forward to say his own lines, which was unheard of as the group named the chorus, would recite the story as the performers performed. She also explained Greek architecture and how the Greeks were able to create a theatre-like sound for performances through the creation of the stone steps that provided the foundation for an outdoor amphitheatre. We all knew the Greeks were ahead of their time in their architecture, but wow it is astonishing to see just how advanced they were. At the turn of the 20th century is when our present idea of music came to be, music that tells a story in the form of a musical that carries the music on until the end. The 1920s was the golden age for musical theatre, Lorinda says, this is when the book musical came, the book is the story, lyrics and dialogue, the score is the music that accompanies it. Lorinda explained the musical as an ongoing story, when you cannot say what you want to anymore you move into singing and then to dancing when singing cannot continue the story. The music and dance helps continue the story, they are not randomly placed there, but rather continue moving the story forward.
Lorinda then moved into talking about the songs in the musical. She said there are two kinds of songs, “I am” songs and “I want” songs. “I am” songs focus on the individual, sending the message that I am this person, and this is who I am. “I want” songs, focus on what they are striving towards, the goal or good you are pursuing. When you choose a song, you can’t just read it, but you have to go through it and gain a grasp on it’s meaning and its history. We chose “Show Yourself” from Frozen 2, a wonderful musical that I honestly only watched for the first time this year (I know I am a disgrace). Lorinda told me the first thing to do is to find out how you can connect to a piece, there’s two ways you can do this: the magic if, which puts you in the position of the character imagining yourself in their position and how you would feel, and then there is emotional memory which would be keying into a personal experience that was the same or similar. We went through each verse of the song dissecting the message from the song, this allowed me to have a better understanding of what was going on at this point in the story, and also gave me an idea of what would be expected if I was to be performing that piece. I thought this was a very effective way to connect to a piece, as Lorinda says, if you cannot make these connections the performance will not feel or look genuine.
Lorinda was such a pleasure to be taught by, she kept things fun and exciting while making sure to give me a rich understanding of the history of musical theatre and its importance to our modern conceptions of musical theatre. From now on, I will definitely be paying more attention to the message in the lyrics. I am looking forward to spending more time with Lorinda and working alongside such a delightful person!