Musical soul
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Musical theatre saves souls

by Maren Fischer

Last month, I wrote about how musical theatre is underrated in today’s world and that everyone should try to go see some. But this month I wanted to expand on that. Musical theatre is not only part of how I make my living; it’s how I feed my soul.

Sometimes when we throw around words like “heart”, “life”, “spirit”, or especially “soul”, they can feel cheesy, over dramatic, and cliché. Being that they are abstract universal concepts we humans are often afraid to confront, we belittle them to feel more secure. But that’s when we wake one morning to notice an ever so slight omnipresent hum of dissatisfaction, a lingering buzz of uncertainty, and a slow echo of fleeting happiness, and wonder, “How did I get so far from peace?”

I challenge you to brave the word “soul” and the full baggage that comes with it, and open yourself up to how important it is. And I’m not talking in terms of religion or afterlife — although if you’d like to think of it that way you can — but about that true, deep essence: the entity that’s both buried unfathomably deep inside you and floating infinitely out toward the stars; beyond your cells and molecules, and yet painted on each one.

Musical theatre is also often dismissed as being cheesy or over dramatic, but when done skillfully, it can be a really beautiful tool in unlocking that caged soul. When a character in musical theatre finds that words alone are no longer enough, they sing. When they can no longer just sing, they dance. Words, movement and music are combined to capture mind, body, and soul, respectively. These are not the mere trivialities of shallow entertainment. These are what human beings must do to express emotion, or they will break.

If I can make just one person leave the theatre leaking a little of their soul down the aisle, then I have done my job.

Because exposed souls are vulnerable souls, which means they can be healed.

A surgeon can’t complete a heart surgery until he cracks open the ribs. And my brand of surgery is through words, music, and dance.

I asked my friend, up and coming director Joshua Kelley, to chime in on why he feels musical theatre is important. Josh directs musical theatre because “the expressive possibilities of that medium are much more vast than any other approach to storytelling. Whether it’s text, music, or movement — even visual images — a musical has the potential to unlock more of the human experience than non-hybrid art forms. It’s like a kaleidoscope instead of just a plain, old telescope!

“There are some aspects of the human experience that are so intimate, complex, private, and — let’s face it — emotional that they cannot be captured by words alone. Enter: music. Sometimes what I feel seems so silly to me… but then I hear a song about it and for some reason it sounds much less silly.”

With the use of both song and dance, “the sheer potency of musical theatre is completely unmatched. If the process of storytelling is an unlocking effort, musicals have more of the keys.”

To that I say yes, yes, yes. But the audience must be willing. Hence the importance of not shrinking from the responsibility we have to our souls. We need to feed and water them properly, and not just according to what our brain has decided.

That’s why I do what I do. Connecting to people’s souls is what makes my own soul happy. So have the courage to break open that ribcage. Try musical theatre. You might just find fulfillment flooding in.

Maren Fischer

About Maren Fischer

Maren Fischer is an actress, writer, dreamer, and popcorn lover in New York City. Originally from the good ol' Mitten State (Michigan), she graduated with a BFA in Musical Theatre from Point Park University, and now does way too many things at once, including Shakespeare, musicals, screenwriting, teaching, and even some inventive baking. Her favorite quote: "Ginger Rogers did everything that Fred Astaire did, but she did it backwards and in high heels." -Faith Whittlesey. Follow Maren on Twitter @MarenBFischer

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