Friday, September 22, 2006

Learning Media from Broadway

Media as we know it does not only entertain; it informs, forms, and transforms.

It is through the analyses of various instruments of mass media that we hope we could come up with an recommendation on how to improve the state of Philippine media and our views as well. Otherwise, we would just be locked in an endless cycle of the chicken and the egg syndrome of analyzing why our media are in a bad state: is it because of direct intention of the producers just to gain profit or is it because of the maturity of the viewers?

Learning from Broadway musicals

Have you gone to New York lately? Your travel is not complete until you watch a Broadway musical.

Unlike in the Philippines where people couldn't afford to spend hard-earned money on musicals, in this part of the world, tourists and residents don't mind shedding off a hudred dollars or more to watch a spectacle of costumes, lights, and sounds.

We can learn from watching broadway musicals. Being creative forms of mass media, we can learn its tricks and trade, know what makes them compelling, and convert them into low cost productions for our countrymen to enjoy.

What counts though is not the expense in producing such musicals, but the ability to get messages across, especially if we are convinced that our materials have what they take to be delivered to the public. For sure, the Filipinos deserve such entertainment as well.

Beauty and the beast

The counterpart of the Disney animation of the same title, this musical's come on are its costumes, excellent music, and special effects. This musical uses the usual conventions of a musical performed by white American artists.


Another Disney production, the highlights of this musical are the awesome compositions of Phil Collins and the acrobatic performances of its characters. The backdrop is consistent: a forested area, so it has to be compensated with superb acting and singing.

The story is consistent with the movie except for its abrupt ending.

Mama mia

This highly acclaimed musical puts together the past songs of ABBA with a compelling storyline to come up with a hilarious and very entertaining masterpiece.

The problem is its abrupt ending that trivializes the sacredness of marriage. But as the song goes, "You can dance, you can fly..." you cannot help but get up from your seat and dance!

The wedding singer

This is not too publicized, but the Wedding singer is famous for its beautiful music and its entertaining script. This is a typical boy-falls-in-love-with-a girl story with twists and turns.

The perfect crime

A play in contrast with a musical, uses only one set and a less spacious theater, plus only 4 characters, but the story is so compelling that you don't even know that 2 hours have passed and the play is over.

This is highly recommended for low-budget productions.


Another musical in the likes of Beauty and the Beast, Wicked continues the fairy tale of the the Wizard of Oz with the Wicked Witch of the East taking the lead. This is a story of friendship and an invitation not to judge a person by outward appearances only.

Avenue Q

This is musical about transients residing in the city of New York, each having a unique experiences in life. The characters use puppets like in Sesame Street but with adult themes. This creativity in the use of puppetry in a musical is truly amazing.

There are many more to be watched in Broadway avenue, Manhattan. But the more important thing to consider is how to bring a noble message across and enflesh it through the language of media. It need not be expensive; you just need a noble heart and a creative mind and off you go.