The whole "social networking" thing has, for the most part, passed me by. You know, MySpace, Facebook, Second Life, etc., all those sites where you sign up and invite your friends and interact with you online. I never really saw the point. (I find the title "Second Life" pretty risible. No thanks, I have a first life.)
The only reason I signed up for Facebook was so that I could match faces to names in getting to know my Boston Conservatory students. Then suddenly I started getting invites from friends and acquaintances long past to "write" on their "walls" and play Scrabble online and whatnot. I would politely confirm invitations to become online buddies with people, but I never really go to Facebook and actually "do" anything.
But a Facebook invitation that I recently received really caught my eye. A young lady I did a show with a few years back sent me an invitation to "National 'Act Like Your Life Was a Musical' Day." As of this writing, 2,671 people have confirmed their participation. It's not clear from the invite what "participation" entails, exactly, but I'd like to offer my suggestions to people who'd like to make their day today more musical-esque:
Let the song emerge from the drama. Take a tip from the masters, Rodgers and Hammerstein. One of their key tenets was to craft songs and scenes that arose organically from the dramatic necessity of the action, as opposed to artificially inserting some new song that was meant to be a hit, a la Cole Porter. I'm not saying you should write yourself a whole new score for today's musical (if you can, and you do, God love ya), but when you do burst into song, try to make it something that naturally fits the moment. For inspiration, think about such wonderfully organic songs as "Another Winter in a Summer Town" from Grey Gardens, "What Would I Do?" from Falsettos, or even "Show People" from Curtains.
Musicalize the emotional high point. Another Hammerstein innovation. Music should emerge when words alone cannot suffice to convey the drama of the moment. In the best shows, musical underscoring punctuates the intro scenes, and then the singing kicks in when there's sufficient love, elation, sadness, or just plain rambunctiousness. Think "I Have Dreamed" from The King and I, "Make Believe" from Show Boat, "Tonight at Eight" from She Loves Me, or "Luck Be a Lady" from Guys and Dolls.
Dance when words fail you. This one comes from Jerome Robbins, who used dance in West Side Story as a rich vocabulary for a bunch of spirited but uneducated kids. What the Jets and Sharks lack in erudition they more than make up for in kinetic expression. "Cool" may be the best example here. Also think Cassie's big number, "The Music and the Mirror," from A Chorus Line. The dance kicks in when the words and the music can no longer fully convey her frustration and desperation.
Put a button on it. Gower Champion taught us the importance of dressing the stage, creating stage pictures, but also creating a final moment at the end of a big number that indicated to the audience that the song was over, and that they might wanna start clapping at this point. In musical theater, we call this "putting a button" on the end of the number. Champion didn't invent the "button," but he certainly...well...championed it. Think "Telephone Hour" in Bye Bye Birdie, or "Put on Your Sunday Clothes" from Hello, Dolly! Audiences are willing to forgive a lot if the number ends decisively.
Hope this helps you make your day, and your life, more musical.
Oh, BTW, if I were going to be grammatically pedantic, I would point out that the title of today's festive event should technically read "National 'Act As Though Your Life Were a Musical' Day."
But I'm not one to quibble with good intentions.