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The benefits of musical theater, part 2

On Thursday, we shared part one of Elanore Speert’s articles about the benefits of musical theater, published on the Tams-Witmark blog. Her first post explains how musicals boost confidence. Her second article emphasizes how musical theater encourages community.

One of the driving forces in musical theater is building community. This can mean building relationships and a support system in the immediate vicinity where neighbors are involved and benefit. It can also mean bringing in segments of society that may not have had the opportunity to see a show before. Once this new world opens up for anyone, the connections grow; they radiate like a web where points of interaction circle around and back again.

We could not agree more! One of our favorite things about our annual spring musical (like Disney’s The Little Mermaid, opening in June) is the way it brings together a wide range of artists from throughout the community. There is something truly electric when you have professional actors working alongside community volunteers and student artists. Everyone walks away having learned something — about the art of theater, about building trust and relationships, and about themselves. In just a few weeks, we build not just a cast, but a family.

A big, splashy musical theater production also seems to draw new audience members into the theater fold. With a show like The Little Mermaid, parents feel comfortable introducing their children to theater for the first time. Others, intrigued by a familiar title, try a new theater venue. Still others come back to a place they haven’t been for a while, drawn together by happy memories of their own experience in the theater. Whatever the reason, musical theater draws people together as an audience. Together, we laugh, sigh, sing and maybe even dance along in a shared experience unlike any other.

Speert notes that the appeal of musical theater also allows us to reach out to those audiences who might not normally come to the theater. It might be those with disabilities such as deafness or blindness; it could be children whose families cannot normally afford theater tickets; it could be underserved audiences who simply haven’t experience the theater before. The Rose is grateful to those individuals whose donations make it possible to reach out to these individuals in our community; their generous gifts make it possible for us to work toward of goal of making theater a part of every child in the Omaha community.

Working together on a musical requires a camaraderie that fosters community growth. People meet other people who are different, who they learn about or from, or to whom they can relate. Productions often illuminate worlds outside a comfort zone; learning about those worlds pushes those involved to recognize situations new to them, to discover new sources and use of language, to appreciate or question icons as they find out about them.  These productions may offer characters and settings close to our home and heart – making us realize we are not alone in our feelings whether it be distress or wonderment. And with each generation, that web of community grows.

You can read more of Eleanore Speert’s article here.

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Musical Theater

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