Thinking Out Loud: Musicals, and The Importance of a Good Story–Part 2

Excessive Comedy

Comedy and Tragedy

I understand that my previous statements are related to opinions about a musical that I have never seen, so excessive tragedy might not even be as big of an issue as I thought it was. However, I have a hunch that excessive comedy may, in fact, be truly serious.

Are you familiar with the musical Mama Mia? If you have seen it, you probably either love it, or you’re thinking… meh, the music’s good.

I’ve recently seen the sequel. While it is a little less risque than the previous movie, whenever the story jumped to the past, I never knew what was happening because the daughter and mother at the same age looked the same. The mother died, but I never knew why, or how. We, the audience, were looking back in time to the mother’s carefree dating life where she was making bad decisions. But this wasn’t what we were supposed to think about, because the characters were singing and dancing to Abba music. Abba music is good, but would the music have held up better with… a different story, or maybe no story at all? Because it sure seemed like the music was telling us how to feel about unknowns–just dance them away as if they don’t matter.

The first movie was worse at doing that. Do you remember what happened after the mother met the three plausible fathers of her daughter? Her friends told her through song that she was “The Dancing Queen!”

Something that many people, including myself, have been wondering about is the possibility that laugh tracks can be used to tell us what to find funny or light-hearted. If laugh tracks can tell us how to feel, can music do the same thing? Music provides many more emotions than the sound of laughter. Maybe it can tell us what’s cute and light-hearted, what’s comforting, or what is any of these happy feelings before our gut instincts have a chance to kick in.

Tomorrow I’m going to be discussing the use of the high school trope for musicals, and why I believe that it’s used too often.

 

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