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Discussions with Damaris

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  • Damaris Chanza

Why Are Musicals Not More Popular?

Why aren't musicals more popular?


When 2023 ended in phases of grief, bouts of sorrow, and the inability to chew, recovering wisdom teeth removal, I plopped myself on the couch and turned on the TV. I finished binge-watching Ugly Betty on Netflix. I saw her flourish and finally achieve her dream of running her own magazine. She left everything she knew – her family, her friends, her city – and took a pay cut and a plane to see her dreams come to fruition. I want the work ethic, the thrill, the talent, the recognition, and the opportunities that were written for Betty. But at that moment, all I had was prescription medication-induced relaxation on a semi comfortable grey couch that smelled like a ferret staring at a screen where Netflix asked me to rate Ugly Betty. I was left with the same question I'd been asking myself about my career, my life, my love: What's next?


In this moment, it wasn't so existential; it was more straightforward: what should I watch next?


I needed a pick-me-up, so I turned to the one thing that always brings me joy – Hamilton.


On the first day of 2024, desperate for joy and creative fulfillment, I watched Hamilton, Mamma Mia!, Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again, Taylor Swift's Miss Americana, Tick, Tick…Boom! I considered watching The Greatest Showman and Newsies - all musicals I've seen numerous times.


I was invigorated. With every song, I felt the edges of my lips curve upward into a smile for the first time without lingering pain from the procedure.


It made me wonder why musicals aren't more popular.


Why aren't people raving about the creative muscles that need to be flexed to string songs together in a way that makes a narrative ebb and flow so fluidly?


Why are the people who do rave about musicals looked down upon?


Maybe it's the "childish" nature of musicals. We grew up using music to learn everything from the alphabet to the state capitals. What people remember are the Disney movies. A musical is a fictional princess singing about her longing for true love. You know, the type of stuff not directed toward adults.


Musicals that are directed toward adults have women as the target audience. You know, that stuff that supposedly doesn't do great at the box office. As if romantic comedies, movies considered chick flicks, didn't dominate and flood the market in the early 2000s. It is as if Barbie, a movie made by and for women, didn't lead to the resurgence of cinema after COVID detoured towards streaming just last summer. It's as if the film version of Taylor Swift's Era's Tour or Beyonce's Renaissance Tour didn't prove to be complete successes.


If musicals can make a person feel this good, lifting them from months-deep trenches of despair where they can see a positive future on the horizon, why aren't there more of them?

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