The Musical Theatre Dictionary

by Ryan Goodale

It was a balmy January afternoon when we re-discovered the Blogspot gold that is The MT Dictionary. I’m unsure if I am proud or horrified by the number of these that grace my vocabulary on the daily basis. In fact, I wonder if it could be one of my very own friends who created this. If you have never perused this page, I highly recommend you do. You can find the full dictionary here. Here’s a look at my absolute favorites:


1. Annie – noun – Any actor under the age of 14 in a production with adults. This term applies to both boys and girls.

“Hey, Annie! Don’t you dare step on my LaDuca’s again!”


2. Beltologist – noun – One who is especially skilled at identifying placement in voices. An expert beltologist will be able to identify the exact placement of a woman’s voice (even discerning the thin line between mix-belt and belt-mix.)
“I’m so nervous! I saw Steven out there and he is such a beltologist.”


3. Belting-At-Gunpoint – adjective – Describing belting so ferocious and brills that it seems as if the beltress has a gun to her back and is being forced to belt in exchange for her life.
– “When she sang “I’m Here”, I could’ve sworn she was belting-at-gunpoint.”



4. Cry Face – verb – When an actor’s voice begins to let up and they resort to tight-faced tactics to compensate for their lack of vocal production. It is to make the audience think that your vocal recklessness is an acting choice.

– “She can’t belt at gunpoint during her 11 O’Clock Number, so she’s giving cry face. She’s selling it.”


5. Flip – verb – Describes a sudden switch into head voice from chest voice. Usually undesired.
– “I did not require that flip on the high F.”


6. Jawbrato -noun/verb – Describes a belter-screamer who chooses to accent their vibrato by visibly shaking their jaw up and down.
– “She was so good, but I was distracted by her jawbrato at times.”


7. “On That Stage” – phrase – When you don’t want to be mean about an obviously terrible performance, but the person being “on that stage” is the ONLY nice thing you can say.
– “How was Kimmy in the show? Um…she was… on that stage.”


8. Park and Bark – verb – Any performance where a performer thinks they are being “simple” and “honest” but are, in fact, just standing still and singing. Closely associated with Dead Eyes and Underacting.
– “Can we get some subtext–anything? I’m tired of this Park and Bark!


9. Phoning It In – phrase – When an MT gives a lackluster performance; marking when you should be full voice. Origin: Performances so bland, they could be at home performing over the phone.
– ” I noticed that whole ensemble was phoning it in.”


10. “Work!” – compliment – This is a phrase used as a compliment shouted during/after a performance (preferably in a cabaret setting.) This phrase, borrowed from the fashion world, is a truncated version of the phrase “You Better Work!” Literally meaning “do work” or “you are working this song”.
– “She better WORK!”


* Some definitions and examples were altered for language, etc. 🙂