A Lesson from the Theater: What’s Essential

Theatrical productions, especially musicals, are exercises in addition. Begin with the text, add blocking, add choreography, add pit, sets, lights, microphones, costumes, and finally add an audience.

The most essential elements are the ones added first and last: the text and the audience. Good directors know to keep the audience in mind from the beginning and to never let an added element obscure the text.

We could stand to follow the theater’s lead in choral rehearsals.

In the choral rehearsal, the first and last are emotional content and audience connection.

In between we add unified vowels, correct alto lines, articulations, sforzandos, staging, continuity, and on and on.

Let’s never let those additions obscure our emotional connection to the work or our intent to share that connection with our audience.