I love Broadway shows. From Phantom of the Opera (the dark and melancholy) to Aida (Elton John and Tim Rice’s AMAZING show!) to Beauty and the Beast (so gorgeous and fun), I love watching them live. And I love listening to their soundtracks while I’m writing.
My recent favorite is Newsies. Are you familiar? The Broadway show is based on the 1992 movie of the same name–which stared a young Christian Bale. Yep. Before he was the Dark Knight, Christian Bale was Jack Kelly, the leader of a ragtag group of newsboys fighting Pulitzer and Hearst, the biggest newspapermen of the day. The movie and the Broadway show are set in 1899, at a time when the rich rose to power on the backs of the poor and innocent. Children worked absurd hours in terrible conditions to help their families survive, while the wealthy exploited them.
So when Jack and the other newsies discover that Pulitzer has raised their costs, they fight back and start a revolution. Of course, they do it all to song and dance.
I grew up on the movie version–in fact, the soundtrack was my very first CD. So when Disney created the Broadway show, I knew I had to see it. But I had to wait. It took several years for the show to hit the road on a national tour, which it finally did earlier this year. And I saw it twice!
It was so good. But it wasn’t the same as the movie. In the movie, a reporter played by Bill Pullman, brings the Newsies strike to the attention of some important people. In the stage show, there’s a new character–a female reporter and love interest for Jack. Katherine Plumber, as a woman, has been consigned to writing about vaudeville shows and society pieces. Now she sees the importance of writing something that could changes many lives. Here’s her song:
Here are a couple of my favorite lines:
“Write what you know” so they say,
all I know is I don’t know what to write or the right way to write it.
This is big, lady, don’t screw it up,
This is not some little vaudeville I’m reviewing.
Poor little kids versus rich greedy sour pusses
Ha! It’s a cinch! It could practically write itself–
And let’s pray it does,
cause as I may have mentioned,
I have no clue what I’m doing.
This song speaks to me as a writer. I often feel a little overwhelmed by the magnitude of the story I’m writing. I’m called to write stories of love and hope and redemption and grace. These are not small potatoes. These are themes that can change lives. They can free prisoners and restore relationships.
And my mantra through much of my writing is “Don’t screw it up.”
And then I remember that God doesn’t call the qualified. He qualifies the called. When I’m called to write a new project, I’m called to do my very best and leave the rest and the results to God.
Do you ever get nervous or feel unprepared to write the project you’ve been given? How do you deal with it? How does music help you?