This year, I saw more musicals than expected. This year, I saw the most musicals than any other year. I saw five musicals total: Oklahoma, Grease, Newsies, Lion King, and A Christmas Story. The first three I saw at Central Piedmont Community College and the other three I saw on tour. Each of these musicals had something special attached to them. I saw Oklahoma as a date with mom, Grease with my sister and one of our friends, Newsies with a best friend from college, Lion King with my mom and sister, and A Christmas Story with Club Blume- so it was fascinating with who I saw them with.
Oklahoma- I first saw the movie in 2014 due to a snowstorm, but over time forgot my opinion of Oklahoma. By the time I learned it was at CPCC, I had forgotten when certain songs happened in the musical. I saw Oklahoma with my mom, my 5th date to the theatre with my mom. Oklahoma was basically the start of modern musicals- it was the beginning of what we know musicals to be. I loved being at CPCC- I saw Oklahoma in June, one month after graduating Gardner Webb. CPCC was the college where I started my college journey. I had seen Godspell and Les Mis at CPCC, and as a result I was aware of how well done their shows could be. Entering Oklahoma, I was wondering if I would see any of the same actors from Godspell or Les Mis since I was back at CPCC- CPCC does not use just students from the school- it uses the community as well. Turns out Oklahoma was home to two of the actors I had seen in Godspell- the Laurey and the Will Parker were in Godspell- fun fact: the Laurey was also in the ensemble in Les Mis. I loved being able to experience Oklahoma on stage- I had to relearn when certain songs happened and so on. Oklahoma is literally a double love triangle plot- with one being lighter than the other.
Oklahoma had minimal set, and when set pieces had to be moved, the actors would move it. Things would move so smoothly. CPCC did it again- felt professional- the strength of CPCC comes from combining students with professionals with the community. They always use professionals in their productions. CPCC’s productions never feel like a community college production.
Grease- I also saw Grease at CPCC. In elementary school, I saw the movie of Grease, and my favorite song was “We Go Together” due to the silly lyrics. I saw it with my sister and one of our friends. The thing is we saw it in row S- row S: that was exactly two rows back from where I saw Les Mis- when I saw Les Mis with CPCC with my family in 2013, I was in row Q- so almost in exactly the same row. Just like Oklahoma, minimal set, but it works. I never saw the stage show so I did not know how different the stage show would be from the movie. The moment the show began, I realized just how different the movie was- I realized there was a HUGE song difference because the opening song I knew wasn’t in the movie. Fun fact: CPCC got special permission to use four songs that were not originally in the stage show.
Newsies- I am still a new fan of Newsies. I have only been a fan of it since I saw the tour August 2016. I knew they were doing the show over the summer. I badly wanted to see how CPCC could handle the dance aspect of Newsies. The show was going to happen in July. I constantly was encouraging my mom and dad to get tickets, but never seemed to have any luck- no SIGN of seeing the musical. The week of the production came, and as the days went by, I continued to convince them- and NOTHING. After Friday, Saturday was the final production. Saturday hit- Something told me I was NOT going to see Newsies at CPCC.
This happens. Earlier in the day, my mom was having me try on nicer clothes for the possibility of looking for job applications that day. Then, one of my best friends from college shows up at my house. I was thinking “I was not expecting that- what is she doing here”. She asked “do you know what we are doing”. I was like “No”. She did ask me earlier- what are you doing today- I was like “NOTHING”. We were basically heading on our way downtown in the same direction of CPCC- I eventually said I did want to see Newsies today, but it is not happening. When I told her, we are near where CPCC is- she told- “can you direct me there- I want to see the campus”- nothing clicked in my mind”. She was having me direct her to Halton Theater- the same place where Newsies was playing. She said to me “I just want to see the theater”- I was like “only those seeing Newsies can see that theater”. We were standing in the will call line, and what do you know- she was there to pick up two tickets for Newsies- that was her graduation present to me. She hadn’t seen a musical live in years- so at intermission, she thought the show was over since the lights went on- I said there is another half- I had to explain the lights let you know when it is intermission.
Believe it or not: my Curly from Oklahoma also played Jack Kelly. I believe over the summer season- the same actors and actresses are in more than one musical. I am so glad this production had the towers. It was incredible watching Newsies at CPCC- the show I thought wouldn’t happen. My family and Sydney had somehow kept it a secret from a musical theatre fanatic.
Lion King- When I heard this was going on tour, I knew I wanted to see it. I first saw Lion King in person in elementary school. I only knew that because my parents told me. I don’t remember seeing Lion King the first time, and that is why I wanted to see it when it toured to Charlotte. I saw this at Belk Theatre. I ended up with understudies for Rafiki and Pumba. I felt like I was watching Lion King for the first times, and the seats were perfect- in the orchestra at the aisle. It is home to one of the best openings, and that is a huge reason why my seats were perfect. I ended up getting a Lion King snow globe and the soundtrack. So glad I saw Lion King again- now I have a memory of Lion King I will remember and not forget.
A Christmas Story, The Musical- I am a part of Club Blume, a group of young adults interested in theatre. It got its name from Blumenthal Performing Arts- Blumenthal Performing Arts is how shows true through Charlotte. I first went to A Christmas Story, The Musical Informance. When I first saw A Christmas Story on the of the musicals coming to Charlotte in the 2018-2019 season- I was not interested in seeing it. Then I joined Club Blume, and the informance of A Christmas Story was a good event to get started. What got me quite interested in seeing the musical was hearing who wrote the music for A Christmas Story. The same composer/lyricist team who wrote the music for Dear Evan Hansen, La La Land, and Greatest Showman wrote the music for A Christmas Story. Seeing that I love Greatest Showman, I knew I wanted to see A Christmas Story. At the end of the informance, I got a voucher giving me a discount. I ended up in the Mezzanine at Ovens Auditorium. I only could say Mezzanine- I had no say of where in Mezzanine so I hoped I was somewhere center. Club Blume members get to go to a pre-party before the show.
A Christmas Story, The Musical was an amazing start to the Christmas Season. Turns out my Mezzanine ticket was in the center in the 3rd row. The main thing that annoyed me was I had no clue who my Ralphie was- the playbill did not make it clear- so I have no idea who played the main character. The musical made me laugh a lot. One of the funniest parts were the dogs. Glad I ended up going to A Christmas Story, The Musical. It was a good musical.
Below is a picture of all the playbills from this year. Three of them look identical- those are my CPCC playbills. I thought that was odd because my Godspell and Les Mis playbill are not identical-looking- the front makes it so clear which musical it belongs to. There is a reason why on the front, I had to check mark the musical- so I knew which musical each belonged to. When you open up the playbill, and get to the cast list- that is when you see the name of the musical and the individual actor.
What was your 2018 musical theatre year like? What do you hope your 2019 musical theatre year will be like?