You can say a lot of things about “American Idol.” As an Allison lover and Gokey disliker and a firm believer in the absolute irrelevance of the judges this season, I’ve certainly said plenty. But the ascendancy of "musical theater veteran with the killer vocal chops" Adam Lambert has done several things that I think are positive, at least from a theater-loving perspective. Adam has effectively undercut all future use of the put-down “too Broadway” in criticism of vocalists, in my opinion. He’s also reminded people that musical theater is usually populated by people who have serious vocal ability and the flexibility to use that ability in different contexts. His performances have been explicitly theatrical, also a reminder that performing ability and aptitude for interpretation are aspects that are key to a popular musician's success.
What I would hope is that young striving singers (and/or their parents) who really don’t have any interest in acting or dancing would realize that they have as much to gain from participation in a school-based theater program or a program like SPARC as the young striving actors and dancers.
As if finally realizing that theater programs need not only be the butt of “Waiting for Guffman” like parody, Fox will unveil “Glee” tonight in the prime location after “American Idol.” Based on positive reviews I’m reading, this show may be another rehabilitative step for school-based theater that (arguably) began with the “High School Musical” movies. I’m certainly willing to at least give it a look.