Written by: Kaitlyn Burkhart
It seems as if the death of the arts has been the latest trend, from Katy Perry and Kanye West slaughtering any integrity that the music industry had left, the Twilight series bringing a marked end to literature as we know it, and ‘innovated, recolored, enhanced, revamped, IN 3D NOW’ Frankensteins of Disney classics both hitting us in the childhood and any aspiring screenwriters’ right in their creative little hearts. No exception to the rule, Theater has been quietly slipping away into something-that-Seniors-do-on-Sundays, or the novelty off-Broadway rendition of Wicked that is rolling through your closest venue that you desperately have to see because it’s SUCH AN AMAZING SHOW.
It doesn’t surprise me that the general public believes that the good musical theater that’s around now is Spiderman: The Musical or American Idiot, it’s what they’ve been conditioned to believe. With the absence of any groundbreaking shows, the classics are lost to all but those who truly love the art itself, and the ones that can appeal to a teen-novel sort of audience are thrown up on front pages around the US in a last ditch attempt to reiterate that ‘Yes, you can relate to Musical Theater, see!? She’s flying, this is WAY better than your flat screen HDMI whatchamacallit!’
Perhaps the worst clamor for attention by the Theater community was to attempt the adaptation from stage to TV, in the form of a show supposed to trail-blaze the way for tolerance, the arts, and musical theater itself. The beginning was a fairly harmless, humourless, brainless sort of stretched out music video, including the computer processed voices, that wasn’t going to bother you with making you think, known as Glee. People ate it up, they absolutely loved it.
And then it happened.
The critics hailed them as having been the thing that held the heart of Musical Theater everywhere, and was making it applicable to the masses. And then Glee tried to take itself seriously.
The end result was the Industry presenting the public with a washed out, plot-less television show that began slowly ruining great classics by ‘modernizing’ (running them through Lea Michele’s voice which is actually a computer), glamorized stereotypes and calling it ‘The New Musical Theatre’. And even with the Arts community essentially crying ‘Uncle!’, Glee keeps on rolling, having, in it’s three season run, desecrated the sanctity that was Michael Jackson, completely removed any artistic integrity from Rocky Horror Picture Show, and made Barbara Streisand look less like one of Theatres’ most talented women and more like a Disney Princess to be adored for her shoes or Prince.
The way Glee is representing Musical Theater to the masses is an insult to every person who has ever set foot on a stage, had to make it in an auditorium on their own vocal cords, ever spent days delving into the mind of a character with the hope of maybe beginning to understand, or slaved over any technical end of a production. Theater is an art that can adapt with the times, and has, and should not be left dead in the hands of Hollywood.