Recently, two posters got hung above my bed. They happened to be posters of Wicked and Les Mis. I did have a Wicked poster above my bed once, but it wasn’t properly framed and was sliding out and my Les Mis poster was still covered up and waiting to be up on that wall. What exactly is the bond that these two musicals share? On that wall, we were talking about hanging up two more musical posters. Only meaningful musicals deserve to be up on that wall. Wicked and Les Mis are two very special musicals that have changed me for good.
Les Mis and Wicked are my top two favorite musicals, but they really are tied. But how can two severely different musicals be tied? The stories found in how I fell in love with these musicals are incredible and the memories I made with them.
My journey with Wicked started at the Gershwin Theatre in New York with my mom and little did I know that Wicked would spark my love for musicals. Wicked carries my vision for musicals and I developed a very personal relationship with Elphaba and emotionally connected to Glinda and Fiyero as well. Elphaba is smart, determined, talkative, courageous, big-hearted, and believes in equality and staying true to herself.
Glinda is Elphaba’s best friend and Glinda and Elphaba both fall in love with Fiyero, which creates a very complex love triangle. The story centers around the friendship found between Glinda and Elphaba. Wicked has everything a musical could possibly have: spectacle, dance, comedy, strong emotional connection, and positive and negative emotions. I felt like nothing could possibly tie with Wicked because it has everything I want in a musical and because of my personal bond with Elphaba and she is a character I really could relate to.
How many times have I seen Wicked? There is Broadway and three other times. The one time I saw it with dad, he gave me the better seat when the tallest guy in the auditorium sat in front of me. Last year, I saw it with my school. Each time I see Wicked, I feel more and more emotionally connected and more vulnerable and become a bigger fan. The picture below comes from the time I saw it with my school.
Enter Les Mis. Les Mis was a musical that would take me by surprise. It is a musical that I would fall in love with through the movie. I saw the movie December of 2012 and my first try, I did not know how to handle it because I did not know how to respond to it being a tragedy because I thought all musicals were happy. I did not know if I liked it or not. Even though I did not know if I liked it, I still started researching the musical and decided to give the movie a second chance.
When I saw the movie a second time, I knew there was something special about this tragic tale. Not only did Les MIs teach me that tragic musicals exist, it also taught me that heartbreak is a musical emotion.
I later realized it has this underlying spirituality due to it being a tale of hope, love, forgiveness, hope, sacrifice, humanity, and redemption. Home to characters like ex-convict angered turned compassionated Jean Valjean, obsessed and strict Javert, prostitute and loving Fantine, innocent and youthful Cossette, revolutionary and romantic Marius, brave and loyal Eponine, passionate and heroic Enjolras, and the selfish and greedy Thenardiers. This musical is all about humanity if I could describe it in one word.
In 2013, I saw the stage production at community college and in 2015, I saw the stage production in London. I feel like it was special seeing Les Mis in London with my mom. In so many ways, it made my first trip to Broadway with my mom come full circle.
Les Mis holds most of my vision for musicals, but not all of it. Like Wicked, it has a strong emotional connection, a score with positive and negative connection, and comic moments, but the one thing it is missing is dance. How can these two musicals be tied with each other?
That is something that is hard to understand, but they are. In many ways I say Les Mis is better because I am obsessed with it and my emotional impact is greater, but than again, its emotional impact is supposed to be more intense than Wicked’s. Wicked is supposed to transport you to a magical place and I do approach the show from the point of view of a 12 year old even though I feel the emotions deeper than how a 12 year old would feel. Both have their strengths and that is why both are tied and both have their memories. Wicked after all was the first show I ever saw on Broadway and it sparked my love for musicals while Les Mis turned my love of musicals into a passion.
I know why I love both of these musicals, but it is hard to pinpoint why they are tied for best musical.
What would you top two favorite musicals be? Have you have seen a musical in a place as big as Broadway or the West End?