Monday night, Michelle Obama hosted the sixth in a series of White House evenings celebrating “the music that helped shape America.” The list of performers included Nathan Lane, Idina Menzel, Audra McDonald, Brian d’Arcy James, Chad Kimball, Tonya Pinkins, Marvin Hamlisch, Karen Olivo and Assata Alston.
“Why a musical?” is a question we’ve been getting a lot lately, and I think our President has done a truly admirable job of answering it.
At its heart, it’s the power of a story -– of love and of heartbreak; of joy and sorrow; singing witches, dancing ogres. Musicals carry us to a different time and place, but in the end, they also teach us a little bit of something about ourselves. It’s one of the few genres of music that can inspire the same passion in an eight-year-old that it can an 80-year-old –- and make them both want to get up and dance. It transcends musical tastes, from opera and classical to rock and hip-hop. And whether we want to admit it or not, we all have the lyrics to a few Broadway songs stuck in our heads. (Laughter.) [Read more…]