Thursday, November 8, 2012

The Overture is About to Start

Remember when you would attend a musical and the lights would go down as the overture started to play? There was a certain excitement about hearing the music, humming along, and knowing the show was beginning.

Recently I read several posts on a popular theater forum blasting the latest revival of the musical Annie (opening tonight) for not having the overture played during the previews. (And some even took credit for the fact the producers put it back in.) 

As much as I love an overture on an old-time musical, I have mixed feelings about them in the more modern musicals. If they are done correctly and set the tone for the performance we are about to witness - I'm all for it. But I think the musical Once does a great job without one because they have a 'bar party' happening prior to the show starting. And I recall Next to Normal setting the tone with the rock music playing prior to the show (without giving us snippets of several songs to come.)

Lilla Crawford in ANNIE revival.
I think that some people tend to forget Broadway musicals used to have songs playing on the radio from hit shows. So when an overture started, you would recognize the song. That is no longer the case and somewhere along the way, overtures have all but disappeared. If they did play a medley of songs, we wouldn't even know that it was songs from the show.

I suppose - like everything - even the musical art form has changed. But when it's a revival of a classic, there is nothing like hearing that overture played as the lights go down. The child in me gets pretty darn excited again. Break legs, to the cast of Annie on their opening night!


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