Another moment I enjoyed was when he totally discredited an old saying in musical theatre. It is the saying that when a person sings in musicals, it is because their emotions are so strong that words can no longer express their feelings so they start singing. And that therefore we, as writers, need to only write songs where there is some overwhelming emotion. He said that notion is false, and comes from people trying to describe the concept of musicals in the early Broadway days. He said that more important than asking if a moment is emotional enough to be sung, is asking the question of whether the content would be more effective in song or dialogue. And that every song should be examined with this question: would this be more effectively communicated through dialogue, or song? I loved this explanation because I too have often found the old saying to be inaccurate, as there are many examples of excellent songs in musicals that aren’t driven by overwhelming emotion, but are just great ideas, and convey something clever or witty or genuine without needing to be compelled to sing by some overwhelming emotion.
In conclusion, it was an awesome experience. Awesome to be sitting right there in a small room, tightly packed with musical theatre professionals, gleaning wisdom from an incredible master of our craft.