By Emily Portalatin
Sorry, everyone. I don’t have time to write this article, I have rehearsal… is what I would say if I were a theatre kid! Got ya!!!!!!!! Okay, I am a musical fan, but we’ve all heard harsh rumors about the stereotypical “theatre kid”: a fan who publicly breaks into song, makes theatre their only trait, and expresses jealousy toward others in the theatre setting; a Rachel Berry type.
I am no stranger to enjoying musicals, having some related phases in my life. In recent years, I’ve listened to a few, but not frequently enough for more than a couple to stick, and I only know one or two songs from the most famous musicals. Maybe I didn’t indulge much out of fear that I’d look like that musical theatre caricature. No one wants to feel disliked! Plus I’m sure you need some semblance of talent to be a theatre kid, another reason why I choose to be inactive in anything theatre-related.
Recently, however, I was delaying academic responsibilities and grew tired of UQuiz personality quizzes telling me whether I have “okokok” or “lalala” vibes, whatever that means (…I got “lalala”). I took to Youtube, which randomly recommended a musical theatre video comparing actors singing a high note from Jesus Christ Superstar’s “Gethsemane.” I knew it was a musical about Jesus but had never listened to it, so I curiously clicked. Upon watching, NO ONE beats Ted Neeley and Ian Gillan! I am also insane now.
I’ve listened to this musical practically every day, and am gaining a newfound interest in Bible stories??? A musical about the events preceding Jesus’ death played to the tune of 70s rock opera did what Mass and religion classes couldn’t: get me OBSESSED with Bible stuff. At one point I exclaimed “This makes me wanna go to church??!!” but quickly remembered I do not particularly enjoy real church and don’t know how connected I feel to it anymore. They don’t sing 70s rock opera there 🙁
In all seriousness, this is not to say I am not religious at all: religion can be a lovely thing. I was raised Catholic and, admittedly, occasionally talk to God (although I can’t always tell if I’m praying or completing a compulsion since I repeat the “Sign of the Cross” a lot). I may be a hopeful, semi-religious Agnostic? Jesus Christ Superstar isn’t exactly the “come to Jesus” type of musical anyway; it’s true enough to the source material but also quite secular, with Judas being a narrator of sorts. It provides interesting, nuanced points of view besides “grrr I hate Jesus!!! I will betray him!!!!” since that is obviously not what happened but is how some remember Judas for some odd reason. Regardless, I’m not sure if I ever found any part of the Bible as interesting as I do right now. Maybe I could appreciate my Catholicism more again, casually or otherwise. Even if the MASTERPIECE that is Jesus Christ Superstar doesn’t totally revive me religiously, I may delve into relearning some more Bible stories thanks to this *epic* musical. I may even listen to Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat next for some Book of Genesis action. To quote a line from Jesus Christ Superstar, “One thing I’ll say for him, Jesus is cool.“
Overall, my point is to state something we all already learned when Hamilton blew up, but is still important to remember: musicals can make learning more fun??!! Hamilton may be associated with “cringe” and Lin Manuel Miranda’s lip bite, but it undoubtedly made people care about the founding fathers and learn some history. There are other great musicals based on parts of history, but Hamilton opened the present-day mainstream’s eyes to this in a way bigger than before. Musicals are obviously not 100% accurate—I’ve watched enough “Historical Errors in Hamilton” videos that I can “UM ACTUALLY” anyone if needed—but they are a good starting point for learning information most would not normally seek out. As long as you recognize that Biblical figures didn’t jam out to 70s rock opera and the founding fathers didn’t rap and Thomas Jefferson didn’t wear a Miku binder (or did he?), the history within musicals can be valuable and fun, especially when musical creators do their research. If you’re an auditory learner or music enjoyer that understands cognitive dissonance, I implore you to give a historical musical a try. They are catchy, utilize different genres, and teach in an entertaining, albeit dramatized way. And now you have the whole summer to give it a whirl, just like I have the whole summer to muster up the courage to scamper into a Binghamton Review meeting next Fall!
I’d like us to break away from the fear of enjoying things. Cringe culture is dead, and theatre kids are not that bad in actuality. As long as you’re respectful and harmless it should be no big deal. And who wouldn’t be passionate about well-crafted things that bring them joy? It’s like that quote I love from the Bible: Let he who is without, uh… ever being annoying about his passions… cast the first stone! Yeah… I’m sure that’s how it goes.
Anyway, if you hear pained screaming, I may be attempting the high note from “Gethsemane.” But you should probably still call authorities for help just in case someone else is actually hurt, or I busted my larynx or something.