Those who disdain musicals say they don't like them because "people just don't burst into song in real life."
But I do.
Most of the time I don't even realize it, which might account for the odd looks I get in public. I mean, you don't want to get caught in the men's room singing, "He's got the whole world in his hands...," or, "I'm hopelessly devoted to you..."
But singing out loud is good for you. It gets oxygen flowing. It relieves stress. You should do it, "When the dog bites, when the bee stings/But only after first aid."
For instance, when I'm searching for a parking space downtown, I always sing, "There's a space for us, a parking space for us..."
It works every time.
And what better way to get through a job you hate than by singing, "Five hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred minutes..."
You see, from the beginning of recorded time until the advent of recorded sound, lots of people burst into song. Literature, for instance, is full of merry wayfarers warbling as they, y'know, merrily way fare.
When I go to a musical, I am seeking a transformative experience; a transcendental one. When the emotion is so big, all you can do is sing.
"Don't tell me how to live, just sit and putter/Life's candy and the sun's a ball of butter/Don't bring around a cloud/ Don't rain on my..."
Well, you get the idea.
Today we're a world of cyborgs, plugged into our personal soundtracks. I blame the 1960s. In the first forty years of the Oscars, movie musicals won "best picture" seven times, a trend that ended during the upheaval of 1968 with Oliver! of all things.
I know, "Consider yourself anachronistic..."
No musical would win again until 2002 with Chicago. I guess after Sept. 11 we just wanted "the old razzle dazzle..."
So movie musicals have made a return while Broadway houses are fuller than ever. What's more, the shamelessly un-ironic American Idol and High School Musical are bona fide pop phenomena while MySpace, Facebook and YouTube have transformed belting into a hairbrush in the privacy of your room into a public act.
"Cuz I'm hopelessly devoted to me...."
In fact, two of this year's this year's Tony nominees for "best musical," In the Heightsand Passing Strange, actually star the people who wrote them.
The cynical among us might see it as another example of the self-absorbed "Look at Me" generation. But those of us who burst into song aren't a cynical bunch. We know that your "heart will be blessed with the sound of music/So you should sing once more."