If you’re a theater kid like me, every time you discover a new musical, whether it be brand new or 10 years old, you obsess over it for months at a time. This obsession usually gets pretty intense, but it’s always the best time of your life. There are definitely many different stages of this fixation, and I’m here to break those down.
Stage #1: The initial listen.
There are usually two ways that I discover a new show: the first being hearing about the plot or how good it is from a friend or family member, and then deciding to give it a listen. This tends to happen to me with a lot of popular musicals that are gaining a following. Someone who is already obsessed with this show tells me all about it, so as someone who like musicals, I think might as well check it out! The initial listen in this scenario is usually pretty tame–it’s just you listening though the soundtrack because someone suggested you do so. If you’re lucky, you will enjoy what you hear, and decide to listen to it again. Another scenario in which I’ve discovered new shows is when my school or community announces they’re putting on. I tend to get really excited whenever I hear of auditions coming up near me, so when they declare the show I try to get ready months in advance by studying the soundtrack and finding a role that I want to aim for. If I don’t know the show, this is when that initial listen through comes in. Usually, in this case, I go into it knowing nothing about the show, so the listen through is a little different. I tend to listen to it straight through, while looking at the lyrics or just listening intently. This is because I’m trying to learn the music as well as the plot at the same time. I think this is so much fun because it’s literally as if you’re reading a story for the first time, but through song. It’s a journey in itself to follow the plot as an audience member might view it, so you really get that whole experience. In some shows, there are so many plot twists that it’s impossible to stop listening. With both of these cases of the initial listen through, you get an experience that is filled with so many emotions: excitement, wonder, confusion, amazement, and sometimes even sadness. But ultimately, after you finish listening to the entire show, you have to make the decision whether to push it off to the side, or listen to it again.
Stage #2: Going back and listening to your favorite songs.
When I listen to an album of any kind, certain songs always stick out to me. Those are the ones that I go back and listen to again once I’ve heard them all. This is the step that really starts to build the obsession. Once you find those few songs you love the most, you will want to listen to them over and over again. This happens to me all the time and often ends up being the reason I get sick of them pretty quickly.
Stage #3: Listening to the full soundtrack at least once every day.
This usually happens when I realize that I’m listening to the same few songs over and over again. Out of the desire to not get sick of them, I try to cut back on how many times I listen to those, and try to listen to all the songs equally. This also is a way for me to try and learn them all, just in case by some miracle I get to be in the show someday. This ensures that when rehearsals start I will be 100% prepared and won’t embarrass myself by having to learn the songs completely on the spot. Sometimes there’s not even a production being put on of it anywhere near me, but just in case it magically shows up somewhere, I will be prepared.
Stage #4: Finding your new dream role.
If you’re anything like me and love to be in shows as well as in the spotlight, you are constantly adding roles to your list of people to play before you die. Finding a new musical is great because you get to listen to songs sung by so many new characters. When you find your favorite (for me it’s usually the female lead) you can immediately add them to your list of dream roles. At this point, you might start to become even more obsessed with the character, their solo songs, and even the actor or actress portraying them.
Stage #5: Thinking, “I HAVE TO BE IN THIS SHOW.”
That this point you’re probably pretty obsessed. This stage is the one where you can fully admit and accept that you are completely in love with this show, and you have made it your new goal to be in it as soon as humanly possible. Sometimes it actually brings you physical pain to think about how much you want to be in this show. It can’t be healthy, but oh well. Finding a show that you really want to be in will just make it so much better if/when you finally get the opportunity to do it. The waiting is the horrible part.
Stage #6: Realizing that there’s no way you would be able to play the role you want.
Most main roles in any show nowadays require an insane range. The lead in the show I’m obsessing over right now belts up to a high A flat. When I found that out, by mind was blown and my heart sunk simultaneously. There is absolutely no possible way I can pull that off, I mean an A flat? I wish.
Stage #7: Deciding not to give up hope.
After stage 6, which is a sucky one to be in, it gets better. I was stuck in that one for literally only a day, until I realized never say never. You shouldn’t limit yourself and get stuck in the mindset that you have a specific range and that will never change. If you continue to do that, you will never grow as a singer or a performer. So this stage is basically when you say, “screw it” and practice your heart out for this one role, even if you typically can’t hit all the notes.
Stage #7: Trying to not get your hopes up for getting the part you want.
This is kind of when reality seeps in and you realize that while you’re working really hard to get this role, there are most likely others doing the same exact thing. So you start to talk yourself down a bit and not have too high of expectations. This is probably the best thing to do when you go into any audition, whether it be for a show you really want to be in, or one that you last minute decide to try out for. As long as you put everything you have into your audition and then callback if you’re lucky, you should be happy with yourself, even if the cast list does not look the way you had hoped. There will always be other opportunities to be in shows, and you have your entire life to do it! It all depends on who else is auditioning, what the director envisions, and sometimes even some seniority or favoritism. Someday you will get your time in the spotlight and maybe even get to play that dream role.
Stage #8: Dreaming about the day you will be reunited with the show.
If you know that your newfound show is not being put on anywhere near you, all you have left to do is dream about the day it will. If you already auditioned for the show once but didn’t get the part you wanted, this is the step where you dream about the day you get to be a part of it again, and hopefully this time, be in the role you were aiming for. Every audition process, director, and production is different, so if you were not great for the lead in the first time, you may be perfect for it this time. Being obsessed with a musical is so much fun, and waiting for the opportunity to be in it may suck, but it will make the experience that much better.
This is when the obsession has kind of died down a bit, but it’s still stuck in your head all day long.
Stage #9: Moving on with your life.
This is when you finally get over the obsession of this show and move on with the rest of your life. You’ll start listening to other music again, and stop telling everyone you know about how good it is. Life goes back to normal in this stage.
Stage #10: Eventually it weasels its way back into your life and you become obsessed with it all over again.
Sometimes it’s a few months after the initial listening, and sometimes it’s years after, but eventually this musical that you used to love so much will become relevant in your life again. This could be a result of a song playing on the radio or on your computer or a theater announcing they’re putting on the show. But when this happens, the obsession will pick up right where it left off. As soon as you start to listen to the soundtrack again, all of the memories and the feelings will come rushing back and it will be amazing. This is when you really get to enjoy it!
Anyone else experience this? Leave a comment bellow telling me what else happens to you when you find a new musical. The one I’m obsessed with right now is Heathers: The Musical. I’d say I’m somewhere in between stage 7 and 8, because my school just announced they’re putting it on in the Spring! This is a really good show that unfortunately never made it to Broadway but I would definitely suggest it to anyone that’s a fan of rock musicals. It’s literally so good. If you listen to it, comment your favorite song bellow and try to see if your experience with obsessing over it is the same as it was for me with these 10 steps! Happy listening!