Acting the Song: Performance Skills for the Musical Theatre

Book Review

by Brian Manternach

Gone are the days when a singer’s glorious voice could excuse poor acting skills. Training programs are placing more emphasis on building actors who are willing to explore, collaborate, and develop unique, connected interpretations of their material. On this journey, Acting the Song: Performance Skills for the Musical Theatre, second edition, can be an invaluable companion. 

The book is divided into three sections. The “Elements” is an exploration of the voice and body and acting principles. This introductory section is designed to provide an overview and a common vocabulary for teachers from different backgrounds. The second section, the “Classroom,” provides a curriculum for a two- or three-semester performance course. This “musical theatre workshop” is divided into three chapters for beginning, intermediate, and advanced students. Included are exercises, teaching suggestions, and worksheets that move from "personalization" to "characterization." The author writes, “The objective of the musical theatre classroom should not be to find the ‘right’ or even the ‘best’ performance but to try all kinds of things in an effort to increase the skills of the individual actor.” 

Section three, “Practical Use,” moves out of the classroom to address auditioning, rehearsing, and performing. Here the authors discuss the preparation, deportment, and professionalism that is expected once students leave the university setting. This section differs considerably from the first edition and now covers audition videos, an in-depth look at repertoire, and following up after the audition.

The book is meant to be used in tandem with a Student Companion ebook. Teachers who buy Acting the Song can ask their students to read the Companion, which will better help them prepare for class. The Companion also includes completed, sample worksheets done by former students, as well as some links to websites for finding music and doing research.

There is much to be gained from Acting the Song. Teachers will find endless exercises to explore with their students, and the worksheets provide a structured lesson plan. There are suggested reading lists at the end of each chapter and a companion website (actingthesong.com) where many of the resources may be downloaded for classroom use. The book recognizes and honors each teacher’s ability to alter or expand the provided exercises or to skip them if they are not needed, saying: “Our goal is to give you some new ideas to enhance your teaching, not to overrule it.”

A tremendous guide for singing actors from student to professional, Acting the Song provides effective tools to unlock every singing actor’s creative potential.

Acting the Song: Performance Skills for the Musical Theatre, Second Edition, and Acting the Song: Student Companion Ebook by Tracey Moore (with Allison Bergman). New York: Allworth Press, 2017; pp. 324. $24.99 paperback; $9.99 Companion eBook.

Download a free copy of our 2019  MTEA Journal?

You'll also get our latest news and event updates!

Close
FREE PDF DOWNLOAD

2019 MTEA Journal

Discover practical teaching tools and scholarly articles on pedagogy. Become a part of the musical theatre revolution!