ACTING IN MUSICAL THEATRE: Joe Deer and Rocco Dal Vera
Published in a new version by Routledge
ISBN: 9 780415 713246
Review: Rod Dungate, 02 July 2017
Good sense, compete sense, remarkable comprehensive
This is a remarkable book. It’s special for two reasons, its scope and its clarity. It does exactly what it says in the title, explains the skill and craft of acting in musicals, but it takes nothing for granted and it leaves no stone unturned.
It was first published by Routledge in 2008 and is now republished in an updated and extended form, with an accompanying website.
It is likely that each of us at some time or another has watched a musical with marvellous singing leads where either the acting stops when they sing or is completely absent when they are not singing; we know what a disappointment this is. On the other hand, we know too, that thrill of watching and hearing the lead that can sing and act and act through the songs too.
The aim of the book is to enable the latter and abolish the former. It’s clear that this detailed analysis will be a goldmine to the student of music theatre and to the singer who wishes to move into music theatre acting.
The first sections of the book deal with the basics of acting – including the question What is good acting? It covers, for instance, objectives, given circumstances (actual and inferred), obstacles. I looks, too, at acting in monologues; the placing of this is inspired as it leads naturally to dealing with lyrics, which are, after all, often monologues.
Each chapter has a detailed breakdown of its contents, and it is the placing of individual elements that ensures the whole is greater than the sum of the parts. In addition, it eables the student to go straight to any element of music theatre acting they need to look at in a particular circumstance.
There is an organic feel about this book; a strong connection with the needs of the actor. For instance, an important section on phrasing is not called ‘How phrasing works’ (or the like) but ‘Discovering your phrasing.’ The book’s attitude is spot-on.
All aspects are covered in a precise manner, free from woolly fluffiness, the course is rooted firmly in real practice. Another audience for this book, therefore, is the director or acting teacher. These people may know much of what the book covers, but the authors’ insights and exercises suggestions will help everyone overcome sicky moments in rehearsing and help release everyone’s creativity.
And the result will raise the thrill level of music theatre perforarmance.