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Music can have a number of different roles in a play. In terms of musical theater, such as opera, ballet, and musicals, music has the function of communicating the emotional heart of the action and the feelings, wishes, and thoughts of the characters. In musical theater, music involves a certain degree of suspension of disbelief on the part of the audience. The characters sing to each other or directly to the audience as if they are not even aware that they are singing. As the audience watches the characters on stage break into song, they are brought into the inner workings of the character and experience them on a deeper level. It helps us understand the personality of the characters, establishes a backstory, and moves the action forward. In non-musicals, a monologue can often achieve this same goal, but usually with less spectacle.

In non-musical theater, music can still play a role. Sometimes it used to help establish a certain mood or atmosphere . As in film, plays can use music to...

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Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on January 6, 2020
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