Lesson Objective: Students will create a new musical theatre scene by researching and selecting a Broadway song to embed in an assigned contemporary scene.
Materials: Contemporary Scene Scripts (these should be pre-assigned to student partnerships), AV Hook ups, Musical Theatre Mashup Brainstorm worksheets (1 for each partnership), Youtube clips of MT performances (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T3MAwJTRNwo Les Mis 10th Anniversary Concert Version & https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=me7DMpMaKI0 Les Mis Movie Version)
Have the projector/sound set up with video clips cued up and ready to go
Show students two different video clips of the same musical theatre performance. (one where the performance is focused mostly on the singing, and one where the performance is fully staged and acted out). Ask students to think about which performance they find most compelling/engaging as they watch. When clips are over, discuss their thoughts—which was more interesting/engaging? Why?
Highlight the idea that musical theatre can be an extremely powerful, engaging art form—particularly when the acting is strong and storytelling/character/relationships are emphasized.
Explain that the major goal for this class is to help you develop greater acting skills—the ability to really tell a story and convey emotion, character, and relationships through voice and body. Because of the way royalties and copyrights work, you can’t legally get access musical theatre scripts unless you are doing the show and have paid to rent the scripts. That’s why we usually just work with the songs from musicals in this class, because we can access the non-musical dialogue portions from these shows. Learning how to act the non-musical portions of a scene and transition into a song adds power to your performance. These are all goals for this next unit which will be explained now…
Students will be put in partnerships and assigned a contemporary scene. Students job is to then select a musical theatre song (can be from any decade, but needs to have come from a Broadway produced production) that they will incorporate into the scene to further the story. Because this unit is also designed to help you practice crafting a scene, you will have a bit more leeway with your scenes/songs than you would if working professionally or even if doing the show at school or in the community. When you pay for rights to do a show, you agree to do it as it is written, changing lines, elements of character (gender) and sometimes the context of scene the play without consent is illegal. In this educational setting, and for this unit only, you will be allowed to make slight adjustments to lyrics and lines to make them better fit your scene. Try to keep the bulk of the song/scene the same. Encourage students to have fun with these, get creative, and think outside of the box!
Example—In the past a group did a scene from The Odd Couple coupled with the song “If I Only Had A Brain” from The Wizard of Oz. To make the song fit the scene, the students slightly changed the lyrics to “..if HE only had a brain.” They used the song to further unpack the crazy relationship that Felix and Oscar have and to show how the two view each other.
We’ll work through logistics of the assignment together—how to cut scenes, figure out how to transition seamlessly from dialogue to song.
Ask students: What are questions that you have about this assignment? (this is a big unit, most likely something they haven’t done before, so they will definitely have questions). Discuss and answer students’ questions.
Explain that you will now announce partnerships. When students’ names are called, they will come up and get their copies of their scene and a Brainstorm worksheet. When they get these materials, they should find a spot in the room to work. Students need to follow the instructions on the worksheet—answering the questions on it, before they do part II on the worksheet (researching possible songs to use). Ask students what questions they have about this assignment. Answer questions and then go ahead and give out scenes and have students work. Circulate the room offering help, clarification, etc…
Students will need the bulk of the class period to work on this.
Wrap Up/Final Instructions:
When there are about 5-8 minutes left of class, gather everyone together.
Explain that their song choice is due next class period. Partnerships will be given 10 points if they have their song choice (knowing what song they will use) and 15 points if they bring their music (either a minus track or sheet music of the song they are going to use). Have students use the rest of the class time to co-ordinate how they will make this happen.
Have students hold onto their Brainstorm worksheets—they will need these next time. Students will be given points for their participation today.