Are Musicals a True Form of Art?

Many different things can be considered an art form. Of course, there’s “actual” art that includes painting, murals, sculptures, etc. Then there are movies and music. Another (more debated) form of art is musicals. Many people do not have a strong love for musicals because the songs can seem irrelevant or weird. Others say the plots can be weak. I am slightly biased in writing this, as I am an avid theater geek. However, both sides can be seen and understood. The question is,  should musicals should be considered a form of art?

Within a movie and most forms of art, many people are involved in the behind the scenes work, and work in front of the screen and the press. This is true of musicals as well. There can be hundreds of people involved in a musical, whether it be for costume design, the script, the music, stage crew, and of course, the actors. Each person can be involved with the show for several years, even before it hits Broadway. Some actors are with one particular show for 3-6 years, while the writers and lyricists are with the show from the beginning to the end of the writing process. This time and consideration is used to make each show precise and to also nail down what the show is, and who the characters are. However, this does not mean that there are no mistakes or errors on stage and backstage. What makes musicals their own category of art are the imperfections within them. In a painting, there can be imperfections with a stroke or a color mixture. In film, there can be editing issues or there can be messed up lines. For certain fans or observers, these errors are what makes the pieces of art, art.

While all of these are examples of reasons why musicals should be considered an art form, there are many reasons as to why some people think that musicals aren’t art. For one thing, the plot can be weak. Within a musical, most of the plot is expressed through singing. Many people find this not only annoying, but also pointless. It can be seen that art is expressed through human emotion, but with so much fluctuation, one may not be able to fully grasp the point of the plot and the point a certain piece of the musical. Sometimes, when things like this occur, people can have a misunderstanding of what the musical is; and consider it a form of entertainment, not art.

To be clear, it can be debated either way as to whether or not musicals are considered a form of art. To put it simply, art is the “[U]se of skill and creative imagination.”The work that is created onstage and backstage certainly meets these standards. The work of many goes into the production of a musical. Those who work in this field all have some sort of experience or training. Also, building a set and a story and characters requires imagination and creativity to help make the characters come to life.

Now, knowing that musicals are a real form of art, we are able to compare them to say the artistic level of movies. Movies are one of the most widely viewed forms of art. This is mostly because they are easily accessible and affordable. With movies, the actors do several takes and there is a lot of editing involved. Sometimes, things that should be impossible, are not with the modern technology and editing. So, when comparing stage and screen, it could seem like stage is less realistic. However, with a live show, the audience is more a part of it. It takes their creative imaginations as well, to engage with the plot and the actors. While the songs of musicals can seem annoying and not have the right feel or be boring to listen to without the story, much like listening to a movie soundtrack. Sometimes it can be hard to connect with the music, because you can’t see the humanity behind it. However, with both of these forms of art, with the music, the combination makes the experiences unforgettable. It just depends on how one chooses to use their imagination to see it all, as with any form of art.

So, to say the least, musicals are a form of art. They require skill and imagination put a show on and to keep it running. While to some it may not seem interesting or like it should be a form of art, musicals combine many forms of art; music, dance, acting, into one solid form. They provide a form of beauty that can only be understood as art.

by Emily Stanley