Musicals Make Me Miserables

Ever since I was six, my very sweet and very accomplished Jewish grandmother has insisted on spending quality time with me multiple times a year. Now, I love the effort to stay connected with me and be involved in my life. And I love spending time with my grandmother – she is a kind, intelligent, albeit intense, woman. What I don’t love, however, is the outlet she uses to express her affection for me. Musicals.

Musicals are the bane of my cultural existence.

The choreographed singing, dancing, acting. It’s more of a spectacle than a play, but has none of the realism of a movie. It’s a novelty act, a buttered-up shtick with no substance, and  nothing but style. How serious can something get when, in the middle of a pivotal moment, a grown man takes to song to express his innermost feelings?

My hatred for these abominations has deep roots. The first musical I ever saw was “Fidder on the Roof.” “Fiddler” is the classic story of a Jewish man attempting to maintain family and Jewish traditions while outside forces infringe on his life.

I’d like to emphasize that I was six.

My grandma had (and still has) the crazy idea that musicals “enrich me” and make me “cultured.” But I was confused why this random old man who was actually the main character, Tevye was so forcefully singing. I was frightened. The tears came 20 minutes into the first act.

Even after that embarrassing performance, my grandma still insists on dragging me to multiple musicals a year. “The Lion King,” “Mary Poppins,” “Bye Bye Birdie” – I could go on and on.

Now, at this point, I sound like an ungrateful and haughty snob, but I swear there is some method behind my madness.

For one, musicals are so clearly artificial that it oftentimes sickens me. I’m not currently aware of any people who say, “Hey, instead of saying what I mean in a simple sentence or two, how about I explain it to you in song???”

Oh, wait. I forgot. The reason why I don’t know anyone who does that is because it has never happened.


Nor will it as long as humankind has some semblance of sanity. The abrupt singing takes me out of the rhythm of the story – I remember that I’m seeing something false, something that could never happen.

Now I admit, I have enjoyed some musicals. I recently saw “The Book of Mormon” and was delighted to find that I was, well, delighted. But the “The Book of Mormon” worked because it is a comedy. It uses decadent singing to highlight its own absurdness, and satirizing of other musicals, like “The Lion King.”

Musicals have their merits. They can excite, add comedic fodder, and overall mildly entertain. However, the negatives outweigh the positives. They awkwardly interrupt the flow of a story, are unnecessarily showy, and unrealistic. I appreciate the effort made by my grandma, but over the years, the only thing that has been enriched is my hatred for musicals.