The Message of the Musical
My friend in London, Jane, has just sent me a copy of a new book, “You’ve Got To Have a Dream: The Message of the Musical” by Ian Bradley published by SCM Press this year.
The thesis is that musicals are cultural icons of our age and that “they may be iconic in a deepers sense, with an almost sacramental, hymnodic, transofmring power to point beyond themselves to the realm of the spiritual and the divine.”
Bradley obviously loves musicals and presents them as incarnational theology, going through 10 theological aspects of the musical. Although there is no analysis of audience reception, he does present some hints about the religious experience from the audience/reception perspective. He points to the increasing inclusion of show songs in Christian funerals and actually claims that “data collected by the Co-operative Funeral Service, the largest providers of funerals in the United Kingdom suggest that such songs are coming to challenge the primacy of traditional crematorium favourites like ‘Abide with me and the 23rd Psalm. The top ten most requested pieces of music at funerals in Britain over recent years have included ‘My heart will go on’ from Titanic, ‘Bring him home’ from Les Misï¿½rables, ‘Wishing you were somehow here again’ from Phantom of the Opera, ‘You’ll never walk alone’ from Carousel and ‘Memories’ from Cats.”
Sing Halleluyah, Come on Get Happy!