This thought-provoking book is as much about encouraging those love musicals to be more open minded as well as passionately highlighting the joys of musical theatre.
Adam Lenson is certainly someone who is a champion of new musical theatre as both director and producer, his credits include recent musicals such as Francesca Forristal & Jordan Paul Clarke’s Public Domain, Luke Bateman & Michael Conley’s The Fabulist Fox Sister and Wasted by Christopher Ash and Carl Miller. All of these musicals are so unique and distinctive – showing just how diverse in style they can be.
This is something that is equally highlighted in this passionate and thought-provoking new book which is formed of a number of essays that explores every aspect of this particular brand of theatre. In each section he concentrates on a particular element involved with the creation and staging a new musical, while also highlighting how new productions from upcoming musical theatre writers aren’t being shown and celebrated as much as they could be.
It is a really eye opening read that helps broaden the readers mind – from changing our perception of how a musical can be used not just for entertainment value but on a deeper level how we see the world and change our perceptive. He makes it constantly clear that a musical is not so easily defined and are extremely complex to create but they don’t necessarily have to have to have big budget to put on stage – it is the writing and the work of those artists creating it that should be at the centre of any new musical production.
With each chapter, Lenson makes his points in a clear and concise way – but at times it does read as though some of the points are being repeated heavily. With every word his passion and drive to support new work and to give it a larger platform is never in doubt – and you can understand where he comes from when he talks about how the long running shows can be seen in the exact same form across the globe – it does seem restrictive and lacking in boldness in taking a chance on new works by new writers.
As someone who loves musicals, this book has left me questioning as to whether I’m as open minded when it comes to the shows I choose to see as well as making me re-evaluate what they mean to me. There is no judgement in Breaking into Song – rather its encouraging and hopeful about the future of the musical if we only give it room to develop.
This is a book that has been written with great care and insight to provide a unique and fascinating look at this type of theatre in a way that hasn’t been explored before while championing new musical theatre writing. Worth a read whether you love musicals or not.
By Emma Clarendon
Breaking into Song is available to buy now.