Musical Characters I Relate to

One unique thing about musicals is that you find characters you can relate to. This post will talk about musical characters I relate to: both stage and nonstage.

First up is Elphaba from Wicked. Out of all musical characters, I relate to her the most. Like me, she is smart, determined, talkative, unique, big-hearted and believes in equality and staying true to herself. Another thing that I relate to her is her friendship with Glinda. Because I relate to her so much, I have the most personal relationship with her and she is my favorite musical character. She is one of the biggest reasons why Wicked has become meaningful.

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Next up is Annie from Annie. Just like her, I am optimistic.

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I relate to Anna from Frozen. I have a very outgoing personality as well and am funny. Sometimes like Anna, I act before I think. This sounds crazy, but Anna reminds me of Glinda.

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I feel like I can relate to Belle from Beauty and the Beast. I love to read especially mysteries, classics, fantasies, and mythology. Just like Belle, I am caring and capable of seeing who someone is beyond what they look like.

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There are some characters where I can only relate to a small piece of then. I can relate in some way to Jean Valjean’s strong spirituality. Ever since high school, I have always been known I have a strong spirit.

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What are some musical characters you relate to?

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Importance of Emotional Connections in Musicals

In my opinion, the most important part of a musical experience is the emotional connection. This will be a very difficult thing to write about. I understand the importance, but it is so hard to describe. Having an emotional connection is key to having a positive experience and is key for a musical to become meaningful.

All of the musicals that are meaningful to me consist of an emotional connection. Musicals like Sound of Music, Annie, Newsies, Wicked, Les Mis, and Rent all have an emotional connection for me. Their emotional connections are very different. They each have something that I emotionally connect to.

In Annie, I have an emotional connection to Annie due to her optimism  and in Wicked, I have an emotional connection mainly to Elphaba and her friendship with Glinda and out of all musical characters, I have the most personal relationship with Elphaba. In Sound of Music, I have an emotional connection to its theme of family. In Les Mis, I have an emotional connection the its spiritual undertone and have a deep connection to those living in poverty. In Newsies, I have an intimate emotional connection to the relationship between Jack Kelly and Crutchie and I have an emotional connection to the relationship between all of the Newsies. In Rent, I have an emotional connection to the relationship found among the friends.

I started to understand the emotional connection of musicals through Wicked. I was twelve at the time and I was the right age to pick up on something like that. Out of all characters, I emotionally connected the best to Elphaba and eventually found myself falling in love with Fiyero and Glinda. Wicked was how I began to have an understanding of the negative emotions.

The best way to explain an emotional connection is to look at negative emotions. Naturally, it would seem like you don’t want to feel to feel them because they hurt. But, if you have an emotional connection, feeling those emotions become worth it. You don’t want to feel the negative emotions in a way that gives you a negative experience. You want them to feel like you are receiving a positive experience.  Just like the positive emotions, the negative emotions are worth it. It’s just the emotional connection gives meaning to the negative emotions and makes it worth feeling negative emotions. Without an emotional connection, the negative emotions will just feel bland and even pointless and will affect you in a very negative way.

All of the musicals that have at least one full song that is sad, it is worth it. The characters who experience conflict in their lives and who are more complex are more likely to express those emotions through song. They are the ones that are the easiest to care for. You learn to sympathize or emphasize with him. The sad songs, which typically are heartbreakers, are just these beautiful, fragile, and vulnerable songs. Before knowing about heartbreak, sad songs were so different and I honestly don’t quite remember what sad was like.

But I can use Wicked to trace it back to what it was. “I’m Not That Girl” wasn’t even a heartbreaker, but instead just a sad song and “No Good” was strongly disliked and seemed emotionless. That is the best way to describe the negative emotions before discovering heartbreak.

What do you think is the importance of having an emotional connection in a musical?

Tomorrow’s post will be about musical characters I relate to since today talked about emotional connections.

Things that I Like That are Not Musicals

For those that have been reading my posts for some time know that I am a musical fanatic. For today’s post I want to write a list of things that I like that are not musicals.

  1. Reading- favorite: Les Misérables (Yes I said this is a post that is not musical related, but Les Misérables is my favorite one). Below are classics that I own. Have read all but Nicholas Nickleby

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2. Collecting Snow-Globes

IMG_11193. Hiking– great way to destress and strengthen my spirituality           IMG_1042

4. Volunteering-particulary for helping those living in poverty

5. Pink- my favorite color

6. Glitter and Sparkles

7. Family and Friends

8. Contemporary Christian Music

9. Stuffed Animals

10. Monogram

11. Rainbows

12. Sunsets/Sunrises

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13. Coloring

14. Singing

15. Learning

16. Playing Piano

17. Tennis

18. Dogs

Wow, wrote more than I thought

 

The Importance of Understudies and Swings

Because yesterday’s post talked about the ensemble, I think today is a good time to talk about the understudies and swings. They are the people who step up to play another character when the main person is on vacation, off for the day, or even sick. The understudies and swings have to work harder than anybody else. Whenever I hear I have an understudy, there is always a sense of worry, but I usually regret it right away.

I have been having this long history of understudies lately. In 2014, I had an understudy playing Christine when the main person was off for the day. In 2015, I had understudies for Pippin, Leading Player and Jean Valjean. In 2016, I had understudies for Elphaba and Katherine Plumber. I was the least worried when it came to Pippin, Leading Player, and Katherine Plumber because it was my first time exploring those characters. But with Elphaba and Jean Valjean, I was the most nervous because these were characters I already know.

When I saw Pippin for the first time, I remember being so intrigued by the performance of the leading player. She was an understudy and played the role fantastic. She was very crafty and quite playful at times and even had a sense of evil in her portrayal. I was more fascinated with her portrayal then the portrayal  of Pippin. I am not a big fan of antagonists, but they still can impress you. In Magic to Do, she played the part very playfully with a small hint of evil. But in Glory, she played the role in a much darker way. But whenever she was around Pippin, she didn’t play the role quite as dark in order to manipulate Pippin to make him make several wrong choices.

But in July of that same year, I saw Les Mis in the West End. When I heard I had an understudy for Valjean, I was thinking I hope he doesn’t mess it up. After all, I was seeing Les Mis in the West End and I already knew Valjean thanks to seeing the movie, 25th anniversary concert, and the stage show three times. This was my first time seeing the musical professionally and it was my dream of seeing Les Mis in the West End.

But I was blown away the moment he opened his mouth. Adam Bayjou has become my favorite Valjean. I could easily see Valjean’s transformation and could feel several emotions coming from him. I could feel his agony of being in prison and up until the bishop scene, I could feel his feeling of hatred and anger. In What Have I done for instance, I felt his anger he once felt and could feel the compassion he received from the bishop. Everything about his portrayal was brilliant. Below is a picture of me with Adam Bayjou.

IMG_0449Last year, I had an understudy play Elphaba. The thing with Elphaba is that she is my favorite musical character. So when I found out I had an understudy, I was a bit more nervous compared to when I found out I had an understudy for Valjean. I saw a different side of Elphaba I had never seen before. This was my 4th time seeing Wicked and I felt the most vulnerable this time around. I knew that would happen because I was coming in viewing “I’m Not That Girl” as heartbreaking song and not as the sad song I once viewed it as. I realized it was heartbreaking sometime after seeing the show a 3rd time. Her portrayal made me finally appreciate “No Good Deed”. For the longest time ever, I always hated that song. I never could pick up on its emotion and always disliked the melody.

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But this time around, I finally found something in that song. I picked up on its emotions of anger and frustration. Due to that, I felt more vulnerable in Wicked than I intended this time around. I originally thought I was going to be feel more vulnerable mainly because of “I’m Not That Girl”. I don’t know if I finally got something out of song if I never saw the right portrayal of that song until that moment or if I never understood the importance of that song. There is a serious side of Wicked that I honestly keep on overlooking. I am always looking at the friendship first then the love triangle and after that, keep on overlooking things. This time around, I was paying closer attention to the love triangle thanks to me finally knowing “I’m Not That Girl” was heartbreaking and I spent more time getting to know Fiyero than I ever did. I started to question him this around and I came to the conclusion that Fiyero had a crush on Elphaba in the first act without even realizing it.

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She was so brilliant in that role that even “For Good” made me tear up. Out of all musical characters, i have the most most personal relationship with Elphaba. When it comes to Christine, Pippin, and Katherine Plumber, I don’t fully remember how impressed I was with their protrayls. But it was Jean Valjean, Elphaba, and Leading Player that I was fascinated with so much when it comes to portrayals.  Whenever an understudy is in a show, you always have to have swings.

The reason why understudies and swings have to work harder than everybody else is because they have to memorize even more. They to memorize not only the lines they usually have, but they also have the memorize the lines they have when they are an understudy. Look at the swings: they have to memorize even more lines because they have to memorize everyone’s lines literally because even though they cover understudies regular tracks, they still have to memorize lead characters as well. They don’t always get to play those characters, which is why I am always a bit worried when I hear I have one.

Importance of the Ensemble in Musicals

As important as leads are in musicals, the people who make up the ensemble are just as important. Without the ensemble, you literally have no show and there is even less excitement and joy in a musical experience. The vast majority of a musical’s cast are in the ensemble. Found within the ensemble are understudies who cover for the leads in case they are out. The ensemble truly helps with believability.

For the most part, the ensemble helps create many different types of characters. For example in Wicked, the ensemble creates the extra students who attend Shiz and even create citizens of OZ. Without those pieces of Wicked, you are leaving out a lot of things that are beneficial to Wicked. Like in the case of Newsies, the ensemble mostly creates up the rest of the Newsies and their brotherhood is so important which is why you need the ensemble to create the other Newsboys. In the show, you mainly get to meet Jack Kelly, Davey, Les, and Crutchie, but you need the other Newsies for the story to make sense. Even in the case of Les Mis, the ensemble creates citizens of France, creates the rest of the students outside of Enjolras and Marius.

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Just like leads, the ensemble also helps with musical emotions. They help express both positive and negative emotions. When I was younger, it was the exciting numbers that I loved the most. Now I have come to realize that the ensemble also creates negative emotions as well such as both versions of “Look Down”, “At the End of the Day”, and in Wicked, “What is This Feeling”. But in the Wicked song, to this day, it is the dancing that I look forward to the most even though it is important to understand that Elphaba and Glinda once strongly disliked each other.

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Whenever I see a musical, the ensemble is highly important to create an incredible cast. When it comes to a wonderful cast, I want to see a strong ensemble and a strong set of leads. In a lot of ways, I feel like the ensemble has to work harder than the actual leads especially when it comes to the understudies and swings. Without the ensemble, you are left with virtually nothing and a lot of believability will be lost.

Why do you think the ensemble is beneficial?

True Value of the Negative Musical Emotions

I already talked about on this blog about the importance of the negative emotions in the musical world. When I mean negative emotion, I am talking about the emotions found in the songs. Understanding the negative emotions is quite tricky and quite difficult to work with.

The negative emotions do hurt in the world of musicals. So what makes them an emotion worth feeling? The negative emotions may hurt, but in many ways, they are quite beneficial to a musical experience. It is easier to have an emotional connection to a character who expresses negative emotions due to amount of conflict that is part of their lives. There are some musical characters like Elphaba and Jack Kelly that you don’t experience negative emotions from them right away and already can have an emotional connection. There are some musical characters who mainly feel negative emotions throughout the entire show and you still have an emotional connection to them.

There are two ways to experience joy through the negative emotions. The first is you having an appreciation of feeling them in the first place. The second is found through any bittersweet moment. Those are moments like “For Good” and “A Little Fall of Rain”. The only way to understand joy in the bittersweet moments is to understand the characters who are part of those songs. “For Good” for instance is the moment where Elphaba and Glinda reunite with each other again, but its the last time they will see each other. I don’t view the song as a heartbreaking song even though it is a goodbye song. It is important to understand the relationship between Elphaba and Glinda because their friendship is core to Wicked.

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Another bittersweet moment is in Les Mis, which is “A Little Fall of Rain”. Now this song is heartbreaking, but still bittersweet. I know where the joy easily comes from in this song. This is the main moment of Eponine’s life where she is truly happy. Yes, it her death scene, but this is actually the happiest moment of her life. Its not because she is dying, but because she is dying the arms of Marius. If you don’t understand Eponine at all, it is nearly impossible to understand the joy of this song. She lived a very tragic life having to be raised by parents who don’t even care about her and raised her to be a criminal. She doesn’t have many good things happen in her life. In this scene, I am happy that Eponine finally is happy for once in her life. It is very important to understand how much Eponine loves Marius to understand the joy found in this scene.

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I love sad the most when it goes beyond the mild levels of that emotion. It starts at songs like “Santa Fe” from Newsies. But heartbreak is a very special degree of sad, which is an emotion which was once unidentifiable. Sad was an emotion that existed when I was younger and it did have some understanding, but I hardly remember what the emotion was like. I do remember it being in “I’m Not That Girl” and “For Good”.

Heartbreak decided to exist in musicals in the most unexpected of ways. Good thing I already knew that sad was already existent and common in the musical world. It decided to enter my life through a heartbreaking musical. Growing up, I believed that all musicals were happy and comic because thats all I knew.

So I was quite surprised when I saw the Les Mis movie and that was when I realized heartbreak is a musical emotion. This was in December of 2012 and my journey began with Les Mis that same year, but did not become a true fan until early 2013. Its just when I realized Les Mis was a tragedy that I was thinking “is this a tragedy and I was like wait a minute, tragic musicals exist” and as a result watched the rest of the movie in shock and confusion and by the end “I was thinking did I just like a tragedy”, but still didn’t know if I liked it or not.

The true value of feeling the negative emotions comes from the fact that is shows that you care about musical characters. It shows a sense of sympathy and even sense of empathy and it shows that you have an emotional connection. Sad in the form of heartbreak is so wonderful. Heartbreak is stronger then an ordinary sad song. Heartbreak is a main emotion in the world of musicals. Whether that is in South Pacific, Wicked, Cats, Les Mis, Phantom of the Opera, or Rent, the negative emotions are worth it. The only time I honestly get nothing out of the negative emotions is when I see a musical that I don’t end up liking.

Heartbreak is an emotion that is full of fragility, honesty, insight and vulnerability. Due to heartbreak being existent, I quickly realized how much easier it was to pick up on the negative emotions in other musicals and even made it easier to pick up on inner conflict as well. The song “I’m Not That Girl” for instance changed from being a sad song to being a heartbreaking song and that is one of the best things that ever happened because it strengthened Wicked’s love triangle.

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I wouldn’t have realized “I’m Not That Girl” was heartbreaking if that emotion never decided to make itself known and glad I was able to realize the song was heartbreaking thanks to the help of “On My Own”, a more heartbreaking and stronger unrequited love song. Since the emotions of “On My Own” are much more obvious, it helped me understand the emotions of “I’m Not That Girl”. Due to “I’m Not That Girl” and “On My Own” being two unrequited love songs and due to one being more heartbreaking than the other, it shows that even heartbreak can be layered. Both songs share some common emotions like heartbreak and loneliness. “I’m Not That Girl” doesn’t have room to be fully heartbreaking since Elphaba just found out she loves Fiyero literally just moments before she sings that song, but it does have great insight built in to it. Both “On My Own” and “I’m Not That Girl” go beyond the unrequited love.

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Les Mis and Wicked are two musicals that I have a strong emotional connection to and feeling the negative emotions in each are worth it due to my love for each of them and my emotional connection to the material. Another realization came from “Memory”. I always knew about “Memory”, but it was one of those songs where I don’t know if I knew its emotion or not. I knew I always loved the song, but through “I Dreamed a Dream”, “Memory” decided to be a heartbreaking song. What makes a song heartbreaking is based off of how you interpret a song. The value of the negative emotions comes from the fact that you are showing that you care.

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If it wasn’t for Les Mis, the negative emotions wouldn’t have changed the way they did. The realization of heartbreak made the negative emotions even more worth feeling. It shows a sense of relationship and shows a sense of understanding. Les Mis was able to show me that heartbreak is an actual musical emotion. The negative emotions are tough to work with due to just how much they can actually hurt. There are other negative emotions besides the obvious sad and heartbreak.

The hardest negative emotion to work with is uncomfortable. That mainly happens in “Lovely Ladies”, but due to understanding the importance of the scene, I learned to tolerate it and feeling uncomfortable in that scene is highly important. In Les Mis, if you don’t understand Fantine, you will feel so lost in the plot. Anger is another negative emotion, which is an emotion that is part of conflict. Without the negative emotions, characters would feel less real. Theatre is a safe place to discover negative emotions. While the negative emotions do hurt, it is worth feeling them if you have a strong emotional connection and a love for the songs. If you fall in love with the songs, you do find yourself falling in love with the emotions.

The negative emotions have changed a lot over the years. Heartbreak was what drastically changed the emotion. It made me understand negative emotions in a more empathetic way and in a more beautiful way. Heartbreak shows strength. It is so difficult to describe the negative emotions since they vary so much in what they are capable of. They have an incredible amount of beauty, fragility, vulnerability, insight, honest, and strength. To be a true musical fan includes understanding the negative emotions.

In you opinion, what is the true value of the negative musical emotions?

What I Learned From Musicals

This is a list of things I learned from musicals. They can either be a life lesson or something I learned about in the world of musicals. I will put the musical where I learned that lesson from.

  1. Importance of living in the moment and living your life in love- Rent

2. There is more to musicals than what initially meets the eye- Les Mis

3. Musicals are not just a collection of happy and comic musicals, but instead a collection of comic and tragic musicals- Les Mis

4. Death scenes can be memorable in a musical- Les Mis

5. Importance of standing up for what you believe in- Les Mis, Wicked, Newsies

6. Heartbreak is existent in the world of musicals and not just limited to excitement, love joy, and sad- Les Mis

7. The importance of acceptance- Wicked, Rent, South Pacific

8. One person can drastically change someone’s life- Les Mis

9. The true value of friendship- Wicked

10. There is more emotional potential then what it seems in a musical due to how strong and powerful an emotional impact can have such as having a massive load of emotions and can reduce you to tears- Les Mis

11. Meaning of courage- Newsies

13. There is more to tragedy then heartbreak and sadness- Les Mis

14. Musicals don’t always need to have spectacle and dance to be amazing- Les Mis

15. Not all musicals are home to high energy songs, but instead mainly a collection of slow songs- Phantom of the Opera

16. That you can rise above your upbringing- Les Mis

Wow, cannot believe so much has been learned through Les Mis for both life lessons and things learned for the musical world. As a matter of fact, it can be had to know what a musical has taught you. Above are the messages I can think of for now.