One of the last shows I worked was a student showcase. A bunch of college students— maybe 25 of them or so?— had a few weeks of master classes and what have you, and I got to run a spotlight for their culminating performance. There were a number of excellent voices and some very, erm, interesting choices of songs, and frankly a few terrible monologues, but then the kids didn’t write the things themselves so that’s not on them at all. One of the songs came from a show I helped to premiere, and the young lady did a fine job on it, so that was fun!
The thing is that shows like this always leave me feeling unsatisfied. It could be a string of history’s greatest divas, and I’d still feel weird about the whole show, and I finally figured it out halfway through the tech rehearsal. It’s that every single number in the whole show was written specifically to support a story, and it’s been ripped away from its foundations to attempt to stand on its own. There’s nothing to hold it up, and it doesn’t much matter how amazing the voice of the singer, or the acting abilities of the performer, the song is just going to hang out like a flag on a windless day, limp and kind of sad.
It’s a shame, really. Since these kids deserve to get the experience under their belt and a chance to prove themselves as performers. But I’m willing to bet that the audience isn’t going to care at all about my concerns. They probably go home humming their favorite tune from the concert, and perhaps when that show tours through town or is put on by a local theatre, they’ll get tickets. And really, in the long run, it’s all just for fun, isn’t it?