It’s a very ancient saying
But a true and honest thought
That if you become a teacher
By your pupils you’ll be taught …
[From "Getting to Know You", The King and I, Richard Rogers and Oscar Hammerstein III)]
I’ve been intending to do an article on my first impressions and learnings as a new musical theatre blog writer for a while, but the first 3 months passed, and then the end of the first theatre season and the end of the year … and now here we are 100 posts later. That seems like a suitable milestone, and since February and March are even lighter than usual on the musical theatre scene (producers take note), I figure now’s as good a time as any.
When I launched this blog December 31, 2011, I had a few goals in mind:
- Increase the awareness of musical theatre in Calgary and provide a central place people can go to when trying to find out who’s doing what and when
- Increase my networking with the Calgary musical theatre community in support of my own career in musical theatre as a playwright/composer
- Get out to more musicals than I would otherwise
I’m happy to say I accomplished all those goals. Having committed to trying to go to every musical in Calgary last year, I saw fifty (sometimes three a week!), including many I would never have chosen otherwise, thus increasing my own awareness of what’s happening on the scene. As far as I know, I only missed three musicals due to my personal schedule. Not bad, if I do say so myself.
On top of that, much to my surprise, I also managed to get in roughly one additional non-musical play or opera per month, partly because I’m more in tune with the theatre scene generally, but mostly because in conjunction with this blog I started The Calgary Musicals+ Meetup Group, and the members are interested in more than just musicals. When someone says “Hey, would you like to go see X”?, my usual answer is “yes, why not?” I have to say that the Meetup Group has been one of the biggest side-benefits to this gig. Although I’ve never been one to mind going to the theatre alone, it’s always nice to have company, and having different company every time adds to the pleasure. Through this process I’ve increased my own awareness as much as anyone else’s.
No surprise to me, I was favourably impressed with the caliber (and quantity) of musical theater in Calgary in 2012, at the professional and particularly at the amateur (community theatre) level. I saw many great shows, and even more that were better than I expected. Where I wasn’t particularly fond of a show, it generally had more to do with the show than the production. I’ve covered some of my thoughts on this years shows in my “Lynnie” awards post in August and my December post on the Fall season, so I won’t go over them again here, but will do a 2012-2013 season wrap up next summer.
Speaking of reviews, when I launched this blog, I intended to use this blog to talk about my experiences about going to the musicals I saw, but somehow that naturally fell into doing reviews of the shows, because I couldn’t figure out how to talk about them without judging them in some fashion. However, I have found that this is my least favourite part of the blog, in part because I’m more promoter than critic, and in part because I find it difficult to fit the reviews into my schedule and get them out early enough to be of value. For 2013, I am switching to previews and interviews (one of my favourite activities) instead. I realize I may lose some readership here, since a lot of people come here for reviews, and the better reviews get posted on the theatre company websites, which gives me added exposure, but we’ll see how it goes.
To be honest, I struggle with the whole concept of reviews, since so much is about personal taste. Just because I like something doesn’t mean you will, and vice versa, and I find I disagree with the professional reviewers almost as much as I agree with them. So, if I have any advice to people out there who are looking to go to theatre, if you have any doubt about going or not going to a show, damn the reviews or anyone else’s opinion (including mine!) and go anyway.
On the whole, I’ve enjoyed this gig so far, and my 2012 blog stats suggest it does serve a purpose, but there are certainly some negative side effects. Sometimes it’s a bit of a drag (I can’t seem to write faster than 250 words/hour no matter what I do), and it certainly takes time away from other things that are important to me (like my own musical theatre writing, for sure!). It is also yet one other thing I do that involves staying indoors and sitting, which I know isn’t good for me. And that doesn’t count the extra time I spend more time on Facebook and Twitter, although I haven’t fully embraced either, not being a social media junkie to begin with. I will endeavour to find more balance in 2013, for sure!
So, I think that about wraps it up. I’ll keep writing as long as you keep reading, and I also welcome guest bloggers if you have something to say or want to try your hand at blogging and just lack the platform on which to do it. But first and foremost, do get out to see some of the great musical theatre that Calgary has to offer. Things will start picking up at the end of March, and April and May are usually the busiest months, so check out the schedule. You’re sure to find something to interest you.