The Big Finish

The Big Finish
The Big Finish
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The splashy “feel good” musical has been under fire for some time now. Popular musicals like “Spring Awakening” and “Next to Normal” tackle wide-ranging subjects outside what might be considered mainstream.


But as death-infused and dire as these shows can be, they still end with a rousing group number that sends people out of the theater humming. Wouldn’t a true ground-breaking musical break that rule?


“I consider those big closing numbers as epilogues to the actual story,” says Chase Kniffen, who directed the current hit production of “Next to Normal” (Cadence/Virginia Rep) and last year’s award-winning “Spring Awakening.” “It’s almost like the actors get a chance to say, ‘life is hard, bad shit is going to go down, but there is a glimmer of hope.’”


“These are shows that leave you with a question mark as to what happens with these characters,” Kniffen continues. “But you still want to have that moment of collective catharsis, some sense that things are going to be OK.”


Kniffen points to musicals like “Gypsy” or the more recent “Matilda” that don’t end in the classic final song. “But then,” he points out, “Matilda has a curtain call with a big song.” Love it or hate it, musicals just can’t seem to escape it. Here’s hoping someday someone bold will come along to break the musical from its feel-good ending bonds.

1 Comment

  1. Cabaret.

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