Don't Strive To Be A "Triple Threat"
Start writing a post

Don't Strive To Be A "Triple Threat"

In musical theatre, acting, singing and dance are not of equal importance.

Don't Strive To Be A "Triple Threat"
Dance Informa Magazine

On the Facebook page The Unified (class of 2018 college theater group), there is a list of musical theater colleges that are better for acting/singing/dance. Some schools are listed once or twice. Some are known as "triple threat programs," designed to give equal weight to all 3 areas. More and more, people ask "are you a singer/actor/dancer? Dancer/singer/actor? Actor/dancer/singer?" We aspire to triple threat status, or equal ability at acting, singing and dancing.

Here's why that's kind of bullshit.

First of all, acting is the most important part of musical theater or any performing art. Period. You can sing without acting, but it's boring). You can dance without acting, but it doesn't look as good. You can even act without acting. (I'm defining acting as Meisner did, living truthfully under imaginary circumstances. Truthfully is the key word here.) Singing and dancing are means by which you can act/tell the story. That's why it bugs me when people separate them. If you see a really good piece of theater, the story, music, and movement are seamlessly interwoven. But that's not because acting, singing and dance get equal amounts of attention, it's because everything is done in service of the story. If you ask me, acting shouldn't even be the same plane as singing and dance. It's also quite hard to rank actors in order of best to worst because people excel at different things. You can tell exceptionally good from glaringly bad, but there's no real or reliable way to quantify acting ability.

I think singing gets ENTIRELY too much attention in musical theater. Even 20 years ago, not everyone on Broadway sounded the same. Not everyone on Broadway had the same vocal range or could hit show-offy high notes. I was listening to the original cast recording of Guys & Dolls a few weeks ago, and I noticed that Vivian Blaine, though a beautiful singer (watch State Fair), was a definite alto and did not sound pretty as Adelaide. An actor's singing voice has to fit the character the same way their speaking voice does. Beautiful wasn't this character. Adelaide's accent and nasal tone, plus the fact that she has a cold through the entire show, don't add up to a fabulous Sutton Foster I-don't-wanna-show-off-no-more mix belt. There are so many performers who don't have perfect flawless cookie cutter MT voices and many of them are household names. Personally, I find that if you act the shit out of something and hit all the notes, however loudly, technically or prettily, it's still effective. I've also seen performances where the vocals are SO good that they actually distract from the message/story/lyric of the song.

Many Broadway stars today also don't have super strong dance skills. There are musicals where extensive dance training isn't necessarily called for (although all actors need to be able to move and have an awareness of their bodies). A lot of college musical theater programs, including the one I attend, no longer conduct dance auditions or do not use them to determine who is admitted. That said, understanding the way your body moves is absolutely paramount for any performer. My mother even studied Alexander Technique at her music conservatory. But dancers still have to use their bodies to communicate a story.

I also take issue with the "threat" part of the term. It feels gross to me that one's hard work and skill would threaten other people, or that one would be motivated to increase their skill level for the purpose of threatening or intimidating others. Treating your life and your craft as a competition is so dangerous. If you want to hear more of my thoughts on that, check out this article I wrote for Diva's Guide To College Auditions last year.

Singing and dancing are important tools, and great skills to have, but at the end of the day, what you have to be is an actor. The lines between "straight" and musical theatre are increasingly blurred as new forms become popular. Aside from that, each performer's skills are different, and that's okay. We have to grade on a curve; not everyone should be held to the same standard. We can't all have the same career. We can't all be superb at everything -- that's just boring. Let's stop trying to achieve "balance," and strive for artistic integrity instead of technical perfection.

Report this Content
This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
Politics and Activism

One Indictment, Three Charges, And No Justice For Breonna Taylor

We can't settle for this decision or a system that is fundamentally broken and unequal.


On March 13, 26-year-old Breonna Taylor was fatally shot in her apartment by police who were executing a "no-knock" warrant. Since then, there have been rallying efforts both in the streets and on social media demanding justice for Taylor and keeping her name known.

Keep Reading... Show less

Nothing! There is no reason to feel guilty about food and nourishing your body. It's time to make peace with food and stop focusing on the "good" or "bad," "right" or "wrong" because food does not have power over you.

Keep Reading... Show less
Health and Wellness

I Sat Down With An Endocrinologist To Ask All My Questions About Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome

There are so many moving parts of hormonal health, so I went to an expert.

Anjanette Tan

Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) is an autoimmune disease that impacts approximately 1 in 10 women. Any woman who has PCOS can attest to the fact that no two cases are the same — there are so many aspects of hormonal health that can impact a woman's reproductive health! For many, PCOS is a trial and error condition, with many doctors' appointments depending on the stage of life the woman is in.

This week I sat down with Dr. Anjanette Tan to get the expert opinion on all my PCOS questions. Dr. Tan is a board-certified endocrinology who's worked in private practices since 2004. She currently works at the Diabetes and Thyroid Center of Fort Worth, one of the largest all-endocrine practices in the area, where she is the managing partner and head of clinical research.

Keep Reading... Show less

- Since I can remember, I've always been a light sleeper, with the quietest sounds waking me up, and I regularly wake up with the sun.

- While talking to a gynecologist friend of mine, she mentioned the importance of using an eye mask for quality sleep, which regulates hormonal levels.

- I was serendipitously sent the Crane & Canopy Silk Sleep Mask almost right after that conversation and was honestly reluctant to try it after testing other sleep masks that felt uncomfortable and irritated my skin.

- This sleep mask was extremely comfortable, and for the first time in nearly a decade, I slept in far past when I usually do on the weekends and woke up feeling more refreshed than I can remember — I've worn it nearly every night since then.

The older I get, it seems that sleep becomes an increasingly important topic of conversation amongst my friends and me. Yes, of course we complain about how tired we always are, but the pattern seemed to be a lack of sleep on the weekdays followed by late nights and sleeping in on the weekends without any solution.

Keep Reading... Show less
Health and Wellness

The Self-Care Kit Every College Student Should Have Handy In 2020

Make sure you have everything you need to relieve some tension.


As college students, sometimes life can be overwhelming. Four tests in a week and you only passed one of them? I feel that. Days like that, you just need time for yourself. A time where you're nice to yourself and put your own self-care before anything else.

Keep Reading... Show less
Health and Wellness

The Smile Project Just Launched An Ambassador Program, And I Can't Wait To Get Started

Looking to shift your perspective, be happier, or just get involved in something truly amazing? Look no further.


The Smile Project is a nonprofit organization devoted to spreading happiness, founded by Elizabeth Buechele. It all started on a random day in the fall of her senior year. She was driving home from school when this thought crossed her mind: "Day 1: Happiness is…those perfect car rides where the radio just plays all the right songs."

Keep Reading... Show less

I'll never forget the day that someone told me these words: "Madison, I think you're a good friend to everyone but yourself." I stood there completely in awe of that statement. Before that day, I never really thought about being a friend to myself, and at the time, I didn't really know what it meant. Now, I realize that you can't fully be there for other people unless you're there for yourself, too. You can't show up for others until you're willing to show up for yourself.

Here are five things everyone should learn in order to be a better friend to themselves. These steps are hard, but they're so worth it.

Keep Reading... Show less

It's no secret that social media can be harmful to our mental health. The barrage of heavily edited photos of Instagram models that we see every day only fuels our insecurities. There is a good side to social media, though. It allows us to keep up with friends and family across the globe. Plus, it provides a platform for mental health experts. Listed below are five therapists on Instagram who will fill your feed with motivational quotes and positive infographics.

Keep Reading... Show less

Last week, Netflix released its original film "The Devil All the Time," based on the 2011 novel of the same name. Directed by Antonio Campos, the film boasts an all-star cast including Bill Skarsgard, Robert Pattinson, Riley Keough, and Tom Holland.

Keep Reading... Show less
Health and Wellness

In Honor of PCOS Awareness Month, I Researched 25 Things About The Autoimmune Disease

Ongoing research is further promoting the fact that engaging in a proper diet and exercise regimen can alleviate many symptoms!


Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) is a common endocrine disorder that affects young women, especially those of reproductive age. Women with PCOS often exhibit symptoms ranging from increased levels of the male hormone androgen along with cysts in their ovaries. However, ongoing research is further promoting the fact that engaging in a proper diet and exercise regimen can alleviate many symptoms! Here are 25 things I found out about PCOS.

Keep Reading... Show less
Facebook Comments