Legit v Belt
Classical Singer postulates some very clear statements about ‘legit’ musical theatre singing, as contrasted with ‘belt’ singing.
For instance, the legit sound is characterized by the dominance of head register, with vowels and consonants having clarity of sound that is more sung than spoken. Vibrato is active throughout phrases. Vocal tone has great flexibility and gradations of fullness.
Belt sound is built on the dominance of chest register, incorporating more speech-level style of singing. The sound is narrowed and brightened, but some traditional and contemporary stylistic elements are allowed.
Full disclosure: I cribbed these ideas from their judging guidelines, published last week at the annual competition in Chicago.