Blog: No Nuance November – Musical Theater Edition


TikTok, one of the most famous apps in the world, has developed another trend: No Nuance November. Participants post videos of their (usually controversial) opinions without explanation. It’s a trend that has become very popular in the app’s theatrical community. Here are a few reviews that I have come across and agree with:

1. There must be more roles written for legitimate sopranos and violas in contemporary musicals.

I understand that there are many older musicals that feature these types of voices. But we must not forget them, now that we have entered a new pop era. Not everyone is a mezzo-belter. And not all onlookers are eager to hear belts. I can only think of 3 soprano roles in today’s musicals: Francesca Johnson (Madison County Bridges), Phoebe D’ysquith (A Gentlemen’s Guide to Love & Murder) and Natasha Rostova (Natasha , Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812). When it comes to violas, Morticia Addams (The Addams Family), Muzzy Van Hossmere (Thoroughly Modern Millie) and Sonya Rostova (Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812), are a few that come to mind. Legitimate violas and sopranos deserve more than these characters when they perform in contemporary musicals.

2. We can love problematic musicals (often the golden age), as long as we recognize their problems.

Speaking of old-fashioned musicals, today’s theater kids focus on everything EXCEPT them. In fact, many of them “hate” these shows in their TikTok posts, which I find inappropriate. It’s no secret that golden age shows like Carousel and Guys & Dolls have sexist undertones. Likewise, The King & I and Annie Get Your Gun treat the breed callously. Criticizing these shows by pointing out their flaws is very important. But to exclude both the music and the progressive themes incorporated in some of the Golden Age musicals, all because some of them are outdated, is a mistake. We should all take note of Bartlett Sher, who directed the most recent cover of My Fair Lady. He was able to highlight the positive aspects of the American classic, while also holding Henry Higgins, a rabid misogynist, responsible for his actions.

3. Writing more roles for POC will not rid the American musical theater system of its racial injustice if POC is not also performed in roles traditionally performed by white actors.

I’m looking at you, The Music Man waking up. With a cast made up entirely of white actors, so far this revival will only further separate the theatrical community. People of color should be chosen for ANY role. Not just those that suit their skin tone. It is not to discredit Sutton foster and Hugh jackman–they are fantastic performers. But that opportunity should be given to actors who historically weren’t cast for roles like Marian Paroo and Harold Hill.

Here are some other NNN takes, without my comment:

4. The college application process for musical theater students is incredibly classic.

5. Hating ingenuity doesn’t make you nervous. It makes you sexist.

6. Direct games are not boring.

7. To shame those who have no formal training is classist.

8. The lyrics of Mean Girls are terrible.


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