It might seem like a baffling statement, but it's something that you hear fairly regularly of late in the stage press. I have read several instances over the last few years of writers who have principally made their names in other genres of theatre or music, starting an interview with this prophetic phrase.
In a sense it's as absurd as saying "I absolutely despise the taste of brussel sprouts. That's why I'm making brussel sprouts for dinner." I think there is a disconnect here. The people who say such things are not phrasing their feelings in an appropriate way.
I wonder if this is what they actually mean...
"I have never seen a piece of musical theatre I have enjoyed, but I am fascinated by the idea of what a musical could be, so I am setting out to break the traditional form and write a new type of musical theatre for people like me to enjoy."
Is this what you mean? Because "I hate musicals" doesn't really articulate that thought... and breaking the 'traditional form' has been done a thousand times over.
It is extremely frustrating that people who have never written a piece of musical theatre (and profess in public to hate the form - or at least demonstate a profound ignorance about it) are being offered the opportunity to have their debut musical theatre work produced on a huge scale.
They are given the support of enormous national organisations, huge budgets and years of development and yet after all of this generosity they still begin an interview with "I hate musicals.." To me, a dedicated musical theatre composer & lyricist, and when I say dedicated I mean the study and writing of it occupies the majority of my waking (and dreaming) hours, it feels like a real slap in the face from the theatre industry. It also demonstrates a dangerous,ignorant, slapdash approach to the production of such work from people who should know better.
In what world would you give a chef who has only ever made deserts the opportunity to cook the main course in a michelin starred restaurant, when indeed, their opinion of 'The main course" is that it doesn't interest them, in fact that they hate it.
It seems insane but this is what is happening right in front of our eyes.
I understand the point of what these producers are trying to do and that is to be applauded. They are trying to innovate in the musical theatre form and inject it with new creative blood, blood that is not "tainted" with the history of Sondheim, Andrew Lloyd Webber and such. They are trying to create something fresh. That's great.
But they ignore the lessons of history at their great peril. It is very possible to study, listen to and reference the incredible canon of musical theatre history and still create something ground breaking and new. Just look across the pond at Hamilton. There is absolutely no need to reinvent the wheel every time a musical is born. And people who think that is what they are doing, just need to look back a few years to find out that actually it has been done before, and it's been done better by people who really took the time to learn, study and love the pure craft of this most collaborative, exciting and versatile of art forms.
I've said this before and I'll say it again. Innovation doesn't happen in leaps and bounds. It happens in tiny steps and just because we haven't bothered to look down at the steps, it doesn't mean that we aren't standing on them..
I think it's brilliant that artists from other genres are attempting to move into musical theatre because they are excited by its potential as an art form (I started out as a folk singer songwriter). I just wish those same people wouldn't jump out and say that fateful phrase "I hate musicals" before they have any idea of what they're talking about. Musicals are one of the most diverse of theatrical forms available to any artist (if you want to say there is only one type of musical, meet me for a pint and I will happily prove you wrong a hundred times over).
To be able to say "I Hate Musicals" with any ring of truth to it, you would have to have seen every musical ever written. And I know you haven't. Because some of them are just being written now. Indeed, apparently one is being written by you... what will you say when it is finished? Will you still say "I Hate Musicals?" If so, then it sounds like you hate your own work and if that's the case... maybe stop?
So please, whoever you are (and you know who you are) do yourself and the entire musical theatre industry a favour and stop saying it. All you are doing is denegrating the reputation of the art form, perpetuating a common misconception about musicals and proving yourself profoundly ignorant about the craft of something you are attempting to make.
Go away. Study musical theatre with the kind of dedication it deserves if you plan to make it, and then, if you still hate it be my guest, tell the world. Shout it from the rooftops of Broadway. Let your hatred for musicals shine in your eyes with the power of the footlights! But once you've said it, don't you dare go away and try to write one. You are just insulting the rest of us.