On New Year's Day 2018, my bargaining chips were cashed in as I was hogtied and thrown into the family truckster to fulfill my husbandry promise to see The Greatest Showman.
Over the years, my parents had dragged me to a few off-Broadway P.T. Barnum plays and I remember leaving the theater not very amused. So, I was less than anxious to see yet another musical remake with the promise of "chick flickiness" thrown in to boot.
My opinion changed when the two producers of the movie game a brief introduction before the actual movie started. I can't remember the exact words, but it was something about wanting to make a movie about P.T. Barnum the way the story should be told based on his history.
From there, the movie took its audience on a time travel to when Phineas Taylor Barnum was just a young boy. A few lines of dialogue launches each character into song to describe the events and move us quickly through time to his adulthood. The singing, music composition, and dance routines were simply awe-inspiring.
I'll sum up this post with a final thought of how this super-powerful movie has already impacted my involvement with, and commitment to, Music Mates. But, first, let me give you 10 reasons why YOU should go watch this movie immediately if you are a casual or professional musician.
1. Musical Precision - The first thing any musician will recognize in this movie is the precise attention to musical precision. With all of the progress made post-midi, there should be no surprise that everyone and every instrument is perfectly in key and on time. What will catch your ear, where others might miss it, is the complexity of time signatures and changes. The songs are snappy enough to enjoy the first time around but yet their complexity will supply longevity when you see the movie again in a few months when it's available on NetFlix.
2. Multi-Part Harmonies - The singing itself was an incredible feat of accomplishment in my opinion. One of the producers produced High School Musical so the tones of the songs were the same...but with an obvious leaning toward adult melodies and harmonies.
3. Entertainment Value - Every song was met with equally impressive entertainment value including dance and choreography. The combination of music, voice and entertainment made me think of the differences between bands that play their songs versus those that truly entertain their audience by guiding them through an experience.
4. Emotional Content - We've all seen bands where the band members were physically present, but mentally checked out. The performances in The Greatest Showman were a solid reminder to feel the music you're playing or singing and transmit that emotion to your audience. Not since seeing School of Rock on Broadway last year have I been emotionally impacted by the emotion of musicians and entertainers like I was during this movie.
5. Storytelling Through Song - Do your songs tell a story? The Greatest Showman will demonstrate the true capability of songwriting to tell a story so that you feel you are part of the show. Yes, there were lines said during the movie, but I don't remember them. I remember the musical performances clearly and how the stories through time were told through song rather than just spoken words. For anyone with musical instrument or song writing experience, you are are sure to agree this movie went above and beyond its potential because of their desire to tell stories through song.
6. Breath Allowance - With all of this excitement from start to finish, there was a perfect balance of letting the audience take a breath where it needed one. It was like a roller coaster. The music and drama too us up and down with a few periods or extended "up" and a few sections with definite "down" so we could mount up for the next whirlwind.
7. Business Vision - If you were hoping to hear that P.T. Barnum was all fun and games, well, let the movie prove you wrong. He was definitely about business and knew entertainment was certainly a business. He went through ups and downs just like any band does. He took chances and figured out how to get money to invest in his business. He sought a partner when he realized he needed more help than what he could provide with only his own skills. When things got tough, he persisted until his dream was accomplished.
8. Persistence - P.T. Barnum had a major hurdle to overcome. What he wanted to supply the world did not exist and people were resistant to accept his circus at first. Sound familiar? The music business is just like that right now. Many musicians we talk to say the music business as we used to know it simply does not exist anymore. When new music ideas are introduced, they are slowly accepted. Like I said, if you are a musician, you really need to go see this movie to watch P.T. Barnum's display of persistence.
9. Recognition of Talent - What made the persistence pay off for Barnum was the talent he discovered. He was willing to look outside the norm to find people who would contribute to his vision. When he saw talent he liked, he hired the people to use their talent...no matter what the naysayers said.
10. Reason - The final reason I think every musician should see The Greatest Showman movie is in line with the beginning of 2018 where we are all making our New Year's resolutions. P.T. Barnum said throughout the movie that he was doing everything he was doing because for a specific reason. The actual reason was never specifically revealed, but it had to do with not wanting his wife or two daughters to grow up poor like he did. Whatever his true reason for dedicating his life to building an entertainment business, it was what fueled him to make the circus world famous. Is your reason for accomplishing your goals this year in line with your plans to get there?
To sum up my obvious 5-Star review of The Greatest Showman, I challenge you to approach this movie with a willingness to be inspired as a musician and entertainer. I certainly have become inspired to continue providing and enhancing the ability through MusicMates.com for musicians to connect with other musicians and people and establishments wanting to hire those musicians. For without them and you, there is no music or entertainment business.
If that fateful day ever truly came, you can be assured P.T. Barnum would shed tears in his grave. Let’s keep the spirit of entertainment and song alive in 2018 and beyond. There are many great showmen and show women on the horizon. Maybe you are one of them already or aspire to be.