“Content dictates form.” This is the oft-repeated mantra of veteran theatre composer, Stephen Sondheim. Content dictates form. So then isn’t it a natural extension of this policy that we should study the forms to better understand the content? I think so anyway. The score can be an invaluable tool for the actor and yet it is one that is often overlooked. But why? In some cases, I believe it is a question of musical literacy. Many actors are simply not given the tools that would enable them to analyze a piece of music and understand its implications. Plus, in my own studies I've found that many of the books and articles that have been written about theatrical score study approach the subject from a purely academic perspective. And although the authors’ observations are fascinating and well worth reading, they do not often comment on how the musical structures of the shows they analyze can be useful to the working actor. As a student and an actor, I was perfectly willing to make the leap myself - to translate academic observations into ideas that I could use to build my character - and yet I began to wonder why a resource didn’t exist that would do the work for me. Shouldn’t there be resources out there for actors who are interested in score study and want to apply it directly to their work? Eventually I became determined to create such
a resource myself and voila! From Score to Stage was born.
The purpose of this site is to translate what we read on the page to what is eventually seen onstage - to provide a musical framework through which the story as a whole can be understood. I truly believe that the score can and should be used to enrich performance and thus I hope that this site can be valuable to you, the performer.
ABOUT THE SITE
Why do we study the score?
Musical analysis is a subjective discipline. If you hand a piece of music to five different musicians, you may end up with five different interpretations. And that's okay! The beauty of musical analysis is that there is no one definitive answer. Here at Score to Stage I have shared my perspective on some of my favorite musicals, characters, and songs. Maybe you agree with my observations. Maybe you don't! But hopefully you've come away with some new ideas and maybe you've even discovered some tools that will help you analyze a score in the future. I hope so! And I hope that you continue to consider the power of the score as you approach your work in the theatre. The score can be your best friend. I'm just here to make the introduction.
A Note on Musical Analysis
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Kerry Auer Fergus
Kerry Auer Fergus earned a Bachelor’s of Music in vocal performance from St. Olaf College in 2013. While a student at St. Olaf, she had the opportunity to perform in many operas, musicals, and revues in conjunction with the school’s Lyric Theatre program. After graduating with honors from St. Olaf, Kerry continued her studies at the Savannah College of Art and Design where she received an MFA in performing arts. At SCAD, Kerry expanded her interests, dabbling in music direction, dramaturgy, and producing in addition to her studies as an actor. Her favorite roles include Cunegonde from Bernstein’s Candide and the Baker’s Wife in Sondheim’s Into the Woods. She currently lives in DC with her husband and works with Adventure Theatre: MTC.