By reading this article, you are going to discover the technical aspects of musicals and in the process, understand what it is really about. Technically speaking, this is the form of musical theatre art has a blend of dancing, music, songs as well as spoken dialogue. It is a bit related to opera while it intentionally avoids conventions of opera in order to give it a general appeal.
As for the musical components used in a musical, it is all called as a score. Sung lines are being referred as lyrics compared to plain spoken dialogue which is just dialogue. The person who writes the lyrics of the musical is not the same person who has written the actual storyline. Well in reality, this is what happening in the industry.
Musicals can last for few minutes all the way to couple of hours long. Average running time for the modern musicals on the other hand is around 2 hours and 30 minutes with intermission halfway through the entire presentation. Some musicals however go straight through if it isn’t that long. Intermissions when presented are about 10 to 15 minutes long and the average musicals have 20 or 30 songs with some short pieces while others are long.
Most of the musicals often starts with overture that is used to highlight some songs that will be played and at the same time, used to set the mood of the audience for what they’re about to expect. Since it’s a musical, a song is used for highlighting the most dramatic moments in the play. The main reason for this is, these moments are the ones that the creator would want the audience to remember most and it is a lot easier to remember if it’s well done in a 3 to 4 minute song rather than in a 3 to 4 minute spoken dialogue. Say for example that song alone won’t be enough in conveying strong emotions, what the director normally does is accompany it with dance choreography.
Whether you believe it or not, striking a balance between spoken dialogue and song may appear to be a walk in the park but it’s actually the opposite. On top of that, the writer needs to be careful in writing songs for every character that fits. To give you an example, it is unlikely to see the protagonist singing songs of sorrow and anger. It is hard to establish drama in a musical too since a 5 minute song has fewer words to say than a 5 minute spoken dialogue. The only way to make the musical have higher rate of success is by planning things very carefully and executing it cautiously.