The paper is going to discuss a story role in musicals of the most famous composer - Lloyd Webber. Almost half of the musical structure is the story that glues up all musical parts in one great piece. …
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Musical Theater is an art form that combines the basic elements of speaking, acting, singing and dancing. It is a play that may have all the four elements together in varying proportions or it may utilize pure singing and dancing only and is considered as pure-music or sung-through form. Jesus Christ Superstar, Evita, Cats and Phantom of the Opera are almost sung-through musicals, a trademark of composer Andrew Lloyd Webber. When story and music are put together, the synthesis is an extremely powerful, expressive and stimulating work of art that is very effective in communicating a message and eliciting a warm response from the audience. All the ingredients of a story including the setting, characters, the plot, the conflict, the resolution and the message contribute to make a good story. It provides a time and place which may be real or imaginary; while a real-life setting is determined by historical facts, an imaginary setting however can make a story very interesting. Jesus Christ Superstar and Evita are based on real-life persons and events while Cats and Phantom of the Opera on fictional stories. A story also provides characters whose personalities, background and visions become the basis of songs. Information about the character becomes the source of the content of the lyrics and the basis of the styles to be used for the music. In Webber's musicals, songs have been written for and about the characters like Jesus, Mary Magdalene and Judas in Jesus Christ Superstar; Old Deuteronomy, Grizabella and Macavity in Cats; Evita, Juan Peron and Che in Evita and the Phantom, Raoul, and Christine in The Phantom Of The Opera.2
A story also layouts the plot, that is, the series of events arranged in a logical sequence and meaningful format that progresses interestingly to bring a clear conveyance of the musical's idea. The plot provides the structure or outline for the sequencing or ordering of songs and music for the musical while the context of the scene helps the composer to determine the type of melody, rhythm, tempo, dynamics or style of music to be used to suit the scene. Considerations like whether to use vocal or instrumental music, solo or choral; sad or happy music, for example, are influenced by the nature and meaning of the scene. Webber is very successful in this aspect which may be appreciated in some of his works especially in his musical Jesus Christ Superstar.3
The conflict is the core of a story, for without it a story becomes uninteresting and unrealistic. Human life is full of conflict and it is this aspect of a story which people relate and respond to. It is then a rich source of material for lyrics and music; conflict leads to the composition of intense songs and powerful music. Webber's song "I Don't Know How To Love Him" and the Overture of Jesus Christ Superstar are just some of his great works that manifest conflict. The resolution of conflict in a story is also a source of material for score writing. Conflict resolutions create wonderful, victorious and inspiring song and music. "Hosanna" and "Superstar" are examples of inspirational songs written by Webber.4
Lastly, the message of the story is a very important source of material and content for the making of song and music for a musical. A story without a message is useless and a song without a message is devoid of significance and meaning. Webber's musicals have great meanings and messages including love for fellowmen, romantic love, love for country and love for life. His musicals contain deep values like hope, love and loyalty.5
In musical theater, the Story is the ingredient that provides meaning and essence. It is the core and substance that endows the musical its development and evolution. It is the component that carries the message to the audience in a forward movement and making the play comprehensible; it is the constituent of the musical play that makes the mind think. Because of the story, actors and actresses have something to say, act, sing
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