We’re going to talk about your new musical’s sales pitch again today. If you think this isn’t hugely important, I implore you to think again. The words you use to describe your new musical could make or break your chances of success!
A perfect example of this is a story my Broadway producer friend, Pam, shared with me the other day.
Here’s the story…
Pam’s colleague wrote a new musical, packaged it beautifully and was fortunate enough to get an A-list Broadway director, who we’ll call “Harry,” to read it.
Well, Harry read the musical and his feedback to the writer was that while the musical was very funny, he wasn’t looking for comedies, only dramas for his next theater directing projects.
The author was horrified! Not by the rejection (it had been a long a shot) but by the fact that Harry thought the musical was a comedy. In fact, it was meant to be a serious drama. The writer couldn’t figure out how Harry could have gotten it so wrong! She came to Pam for help and Pam was quickly able to identify the source of the confusion.
The writer had included a synopsis that preceded the script and described the musical briefly with words like “madcap,” “mistaken identities,” “caper,” “nuns” and “mobsters.” The reality is, in musical theater words like that tend to scream out COMEDY. Another reality is that if a reader or an audience approaches even a serious musical as a comedy they will most likely manage to find plenty of opportunities to laugh.
Fortunately, Pam was able to help the musical’s author rewrite the synopsis with words like “dramatic events” “dark secrets” “organized crime” that more appropriately evoked the tone of the piece. Just to be safe, they also added three little words, “A Musical Drama,” to the title page. There was no more confusion and in fact the show went on to enjoy a successful production on the east coast.
The moral of the story: Think about what you are communicating to your new musical’s readers/audiences because when you only have a sentence or two to sell your show EVERY WORD MATTERS.