Television can be stimulating, films are fun, and live drama just might improve your mind, but there is nothing quite like a musical.
Once live actors start singing and dancing, wonderful things can happen.
"The thing about musicals is that if they're done right, there is nothing more magical or thrilling or satisfying," said Douglas McGrath, author of "Beautiful: The Carole King Musical."
The musical adaptation of King's life and career is wrapping up its pre-Broadway run this weekend at the Curran Theatre in San Francisco.
But it's just one of at least half a dozen musicals, ranging from classics to revivals to newer shows, causing a stir this fall from San Francisco to Sonoma County.
In San Francisco, offerings from producers SHN (Shorenstein-Hays-Nederlander) include not only "Beautiful," but the iconic "Wizard of Oz," including all of the songs from the 1939 movie.
And in November, SHN is bringing back "Book of Mormon," a satire about missionaries in a remote village, which had a sold-out run in the city two years ago. There are still some tickets left for the return run.
In Sonoma County, the latest crop of musical productions includes "La Cage Aux Folles" at the Cinnabar Theater in Petaluma, "Brigadoon" at Spreckels Performing Center for the Arts in Rohnert Park and next month, "Les Miserables" at Santa Rosa Junior College.
"When you see a great musical, it totally takes you out of everything you know. It takes you out of the world, because people don't go around singing in the real world," McGrath said.
"And it's so thrilling because the whole point of entertainment is to divert you from your own life, to give you a rest and let your mind recharge."