(Could be spoilers)
During the course of this year, I saw four different musicals. I saw one at Gardner Webb University, two in Charlotte, and one in the West End. This entry will compare and contrast these four musicals, which includes what my experience was like. The musicals that I saw are shown in the picture in order of importance. From left to right, it builds up to the show that has the most meaning, which was the best show
The thing that is incredible about “Music Man”, “Pippin”, “Sound of Music” and “Les Misérables” is what they are capable of. Together they show a lot of which a musical can do. They all share some emotions, but some of the shows have more emotions than another. Combined, they have lots of comic and tragic elements especially because three are in the comedy world and one is in the tragedy world. Two of these musicals both have a connection to spirituality. In the rest of this post, I will talk about the similarities and differences more in detail.
The first musical of the year, “Music Man” was the most light-hearted out of all of them. It was the only one that had no darkness or tragic elements. It consists mostly of positive emotions and does not really have negative emotions. I saw this show at my college and it was my first experience with it. I was familiar with most of the songs and knew a little bit about the storyline, but never seen the movie or the stage show. Because I was required to go, I had to pay attention to one of the characters and see if I believed in the character. I picked the main character, Harlod Hill, for a reason and that is because I knew a couple of things about the character like that he is a con-man who promised to create a boy’s band and will eventually fall in love with Marian. My favorite song of the show ended up being “76 Trombones”. I ended up loving the show that I eventually bought the songs.In my opinion, the core of this musical is music, I think.
The next important show, “Pippin”, was the second show of the year. Every since I heard the song, “Corner of the Sky”, I knew that I had to see this musical. Than I saw a preview of the current production and I got convinced even more. I saw that it had a circus theme and that surprised me at first. I knew that musicals were capable of spectacle, but I thought circus would never be an option. Than after I found out that Stephen Schwartz wrote the music, I got even more excited. I already had fallen in love with “Godspell” and “Wicked” and he wrote the music for those two as well and “Wicked” is the best of those two. I knew that Pippin was about a prince who was trying to figure out where he belong or his “Corner of the Sky”, which is what the song is about. This show was lucky because I almost did not get to go because when mom got the tickets, there was only two days left with seats together. This show was the first show I saw this year that had some sort of darkness. The leading player, the antagonist”, is a very dark and manipulative character because she is trying to lead Pippin in the wrong path meaning she was trying to get him to commit suicide and I thought that was not very nice. I had an understudy for the leading player and she was the true standout of the show.
The opening of “Pippin” was the best part. It started with an illusion because the leading player was behind a light brown curtain and as she walked it seemed as if the shadow was getting smaller and smaller and all of a sudden she appeared. Surprisingly, the Leading Player ended up being the narrator of the show. Right when the curtain dropped, I looked at the scene in awe and wonder. It truly showed how incredible this show was going to be. It really looked like I was in the circus because I saw several elements of circus such as trapeze and juggling. That whole opening scene was during the song, “Magic to Do”. This song broke the forth wall because at one point, some actors went off the stage. There was another time where I felt the forth wall was broken. During the song, “No Time At All”, Pippin’s grandma asked the audience to sing along to the chorus and they put the lyrics up and that was the first time I went to a musical which allowed that. Pippin entered the show by jumping through a hoop. During another song, “Simple Joys”, I saw people flipping over balls and during “With You”, there was an incredible balancing act. At the end, the musical ended up being at the edge of spectacular and right after the first act, I ended up buying the CD because I loved it so much already. It was worth it seeing Pippin. Pippin is the kind of show which has things that are usually associated with musicals. It is a dark comedy filled with dance, spectacle, and fun costumes. The core of this musical is discovery.
The third most important show, “Sound of Music”, was the last musical of the year. This musical has been part of my life since elementary school. I knew it was coming to Charlotte, but thought I would not see it because of Gardner Webb, but luckily it came over Thanksgiving Break. This was the third happy musical I saw this year. I ended up crying during “Edelweiss”, which was unexpected. That song was my first piano recital song and I noticed that that song has a little bit of sadness in it. The darkness of this show feels like it is much more in the background, but during that scene, it was more foreground. I saw how upset the Captain looked after noticing that Austria was being taken over by the Nazis. The cast was incredible in this especially the Von Trapp children, Maria, Captain, and Mother Abbess. The transition from scene to scene happened so smoothly. By the end of the show, I left feeling hope because the Von Trapps were able to escape despite loving their country.
The most important and best show also had an inspirational world. That show would be “Les Mis”. I was not just seeing a production of that musical. I was seeing the West End production, which is the current production in London. It has been there since 1985 and has never left. Ever since I became obsessed with this musical, I wanted to see the show in London so badly. When I found out, I was speechless and in tears.
This musical gave me the most joy despite it being the darkest and saddest musical. But out of all them, this was the most powerful and covered with the most emotions. The moment the lights went off and the music began, I realized it was more than I originally thought despite already watching the movie several times, the stage show three times, and the 25th anniversary concert a couple of times. The show was truly brought to life through the use of the fog and the revolving stage. I had an understudy for Valjean and he was brilliant. I loved the rest of the cast as well. I felt so more emotions than I ever did with the show. Some of the emotions that I knew were in there were stronger in this production. That included some of the more inner emotions such as compassion, hope, and forgiveness. Sad was also stronger because of the power of theatre and because of my excitement of seeing the show in London. Despite being a tragedy, it is still a story of sacrifice, humanity, hope, faith, love, compassion, forgiveness, and redemption. After the first act, I was speechless and the same thing happened after the second act. The West End production was Epic and had a brilliant cast because the emotions I felt were spot on. This show has at least ten emotions and for sure has more. I felt exciting, uplifting, funny, joy, love, passion, compassion, hope, forgiveness, anger, fear, guilt, sad, desperation, heartbreak, loneliness, devastation, and uncomfortable, and I knew I felt others, but do not know what they are.
After the show ended, I went to the stage door and met the actor who played Valjean. I ended up getting my picture taken with him and he signed my playbill. “I dreamed a dream” that night and felt fortunate to see it this year because the show was in the middle of its 30th year in London.
Now for the similarities between the musicals. “Sound of Music” and “Les Mis” are the ones that have the spiritual connection. “Sound of Music” has the connection to the abbey and has a feeling of hope at the end. Les Mis shows a spiritual connection because of its themes. The spirituality truly started when the Bishop taught Valjean the ways of the Lord. For the rest of Valjean’s life, he was able to do what the bishop taught him. He was compassionate towards the poor especially towards Fantine and his adopted daughter, Cosette. He said a prayer on the barricades to save Marius because Marius loves his adopted daughter. By the end, Valjean becomes like a saint. One of the ending lines of the show is “to love another person is to see the face of God” and I left the show uplifted.
All four of these musicals have comic elements. The comic elements come naturally to all them in different ways. Les Mis uses comedy as comic relief because it is much needed because of how sad it is. Les Mis means “the miserable” and the negative emotions start once the action begins. All four of them consist of kids because “Music Man” has Winthrop , Pippin has Theo, Les Mis has young Cosette and Gavroche and “Sound of Music” has the Von Trapp children. They all share the emotions of exciting, joy, love, and funny. They all bring me great joy in their own unique ways.