In musicals, too, I think I prefer short, catchy songs over long, drawn-out production numbers. I was watching an old movie musical the other night where one of the songs went on and on and on for at least 15 minutes, maybe longer. The main characters sang various verses, then danced, then the dance ensemble danced and then there were more sung solo verses, then, other dancers came on in different costumes and continued to dance. There were no drastic changes in rhythms or modulations, just the music going round and round and on and on. I think it could have been plenty satisfying at 5:00 minutes or less.
Songs for Children's Musicals really need to be short and catchy. They basically have to "sing themselves" and evolve seamlessly right out of the fabric of the plot. But they also have to have variety in styles and rhythms and have unique characteristics so they are easy to remember.
One of the best compliments I ever got was during the premiere run of "The Adventures of Dick Whittington." This show was such a departure for me. I had never attempted to do Old English Pantomime before with all of its parts and pieces. Not only did the show need the flavor of England in 1605, with period costumes, and orchestration using period instruments, but it had to have the Stock Players and AUDIENCE involvement. But the biggest experiment of all was including AUDIENCE SING-ALONGS. This was risky because the audience would be asked to sing along to songs they had barely heard once in context of the show!
So, the compliment was offered by a guy who was intently watching the audience to pick up signals for me about how this SING-ALONG experiment was working. He said that he noticed that the audience was leaning forward READY at any minute to burst out singing. He said that the songs were so singable that the audience had no trouble singing along when cued. He told me that they really seemed to enjoy that part of the show and everyone he could see was definitely singing!
Well, there's a vote for a Short Order if I ever heard one!