Over the past few months, movie musicals have been in the spotlight in Hollywood, mostly due to films such as "La La Land" and the remake of "Beauty and the Beast." The former won six awards at the Oscars this year, and the latter is slated to make the most money of any movie musical ever.
As a certified theater nerd, I'm glad to see this resurgence of big-budget movie musicals and all the attention they are receiving. However, there is one trend that I've been noticing that needs to stop right in its tracks: the casting of big name actors for the star factor, without taking into consideration the fact that they might not be the best singers.
While the casting of Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone in "La La Land" wouldn't have been my first choice, they were not the most egregious example that I could use. No, my gripe is with "Beauty and the Beast."
Let me start by saying that I loved the movie. I'm currently involved in a stage production of "Beauty and the Beast," which is being put on Penn State's theater club, so I was excited to see how it would be adapted in a live-action remake. And for the most part, I was not disappointed.
Except when it came to Emma Watson's overly auto-tuned voice.
Her acting was fine, but I felt incredibly distracted by how produced her voice sounded, especially after listening to all the amazing, real voices in my college's version. It came off as fake and I left liking almost everything about the film except the complete fabrication of Emma Watson's voice.
And then I logged onto Facebook and saw this Vulture article, saying that if movie producers want to keep casting A-list celebrities in musicals, that the industry should bring back voice dubbing.
No. No. NO.
For those of you that aren't familiar, voice dubbing was when someone else would sing the part while another (usually famous) actor or actress would act the part and lipsynch the part. It was wildly popular in musicals made in the first part of the 20th century, most notably with Audrey Hepburn in "My Fair Lady" and Natalie Wood in "West Side Story."
While this would be a practical solution 50 years ago, it is something I do not accept in this day and age. A film such as "Beauty and the Beast," which already had an all-star cast with a track record of vocal talent, (See: Josh Gad, Ewan McGregor, and Audra McDonald), did not need such huge name as Emma Watson to carry the film. Watson may have the Disney princess look, but so do thousands of other girls, and a good number of them can sing without needing an obscene amount of tone correcting.
Even when producers don't have such wildly popular musicals such as "Beauty and the Beast," casting actors and actresses who can't sing and proposing dubbing as a solution is a huge slap in the face to the men and women who work tirelessly to perfect their craft.
There are plenty of less famous actors and actresses that could sing circles around Emma Watson and Ryan Gosling. Hollywood should give those people a chance to make a name for themselves without the overbearing help of a soundboard.
You want someone who can sing? Then cast someone who can sing. It's as simple as that.
See Also: The Potential Of And Need For Movie Musicals