Just last week I was talking with a few musical theater writers, and the topic of “people to watch” and “people you should know” list came up. I said that those list make me want to quit musical theater. Today, I woke up to an article on Playbill’s website titled, “PLAYBILL PICKS: The Contemporary Musical Theatre Songwriters You Should Know, Part One.”
I’m not angry about the specific people on this list (or, really, any list). Some of them are friends, and all of them are talented and work hard. I do, however, object to the fact that we must have these lists at all because they create a clubhouse mentality, with Playbill.com in this case deciding who’s in the club. It also doesn’t help matters that for Playbill, the clubhouse is entirely white men.
It’s a shame Playbill could not be more creative not only with this list but with their features. “People you should know” lists, with their insular nature, are only detrimental to theater artists and the theater community. So many exciting and diverse musical theater writers are out there trying to be seen and heard, and I wish these news outlets would work to tear down walls, not construct them.