Two weeks ago, I posted 20 bits of advice that I gleaned from my time with Stephen Schwartz last year during the Festival of Broadway. Today, I bring you Part 2!
Again, these thoughts are very much aimed at the writer/composer of musicals, so I hope you find them useful!
Words of Wisdom from Stephen Schwartz:
- Who is the protagonist of the show — whose story are we meant to follow?
- What do you want to do with the music — who’s the target audience and how do you hit the widest market?
- When writing you need to discover what you’re going to leave out and keep in. Choice, by definition, restrict you — but you need to make them, and work within their constraints. Restricted choice is vital.
- When somebody wants something, they do something, and an effect occurs.
- Writing a show is a journey of discovery as you are writing.
- Is your lyric true to the character’s voice?
- People don’t care about the past, they care about the present.
- Writing musicals is a collaborative venture.
- Songs teach us who the characters are — they illuminate us.
- If you start a song at Point A, you cannot finish it at Point A.
- Aim for perfect rhymes when writing in musical theatre style — don’t be lazy when developing the rhyme scheme.
- Be specific in your songs — avoid ‘general-isms’.
- Make sure your opening number serves a purpose — it must make the story move forward.
- You need to maintain the audience’s interest in the show — you cannot afford to lose them at any stage.
- When you make the audience do work, they are engaged. Don’t tell them everything.
- Show the action, don’t “tell” it.
- What do I care about? Why should I care about your show? If you can’t answer that, you don’t have a show.
- You cannot introduce a second protagonist to solve a problem or create a “work around”.
- The more characters you have, the more chances of cliches you have.
- The more you have a character sing to someone, the better.
Well, I hope this has helped all you composers and writers out there!
Until next week,
Blog ya later!