As musical theatre fans, we all have musicals we love. We love them for different reasons. The ones that are favorites are the ones that mean the most. The favorites tend to stay with us and are the ones that we never stop loving. What makes us love one musical more than another?
That is complicated. For me, all my favorite musicals have songs I love, characters I love, plots I love, and they share an emotional connection. So why are some musicals ranked higher than others? There is something else to consider- we might love certain plots more than other plots, songs in one musical more than another musicals, the same applies to characters, and the emotional connection is stronger in other musicals. The last thing to look at is the impact. What puts Wicked/Les Mis the highest up on the list?
In Wicked’s case- the emotional connection has a bonus. It has a character I relate to: Elphaba. Yes, other musicals have that same bonus. In terms of plot, it is dealing with two strong women who have developed a close bond of friendship. Elphaba and Glinda don’t let a boy get in the way of it. Everything in Wicked feels OZian. It’s plot is a fantasy. The impact of Wicked is a HUGE factor into why it is ranked so high- it sparked my love of musical. Without Wicked, I wouldn’t have known about emotional connection or discovered the emotional and complex side of musicals. It is the best musical when it comes to the spectacle-natured musicals.
In Les Mis’ case- do I really need to explain? True, with Wicked, a love was sparked. Despite that, I never developed a passion. Les Mis is the reason behind the passion. Les Mis decided to challenge the way I view musicals forever. There were four core emotions- excitement, love, joy, and sad, but with Les Mis, I learned about HEARTBREAK. I thought I knew how intense emotions could get- but boy I was wrong. I can’t explain the emotional impact of Les Mis- I am an emotional wreck watching Les Mis: emotional rollercoaster; any Les Mis fan knows. Les Mis disproved a number of things. I once thought I would NEVER love a TRAGEDY. I thought a death would never be memorable, and that a death could never during a song. Still-do I need to explain why Les Mis is so high up? It’s plot is like a ball of yarn- if you get rid of one little thing, it starts to unravel itself. It’s characters are so interconnected that they directly and indirectly impact each others’ lives. Usually in a musical, I can pick my favorite song, but in Les Mis’ case, I can’t choose. If it wasn’t for Les Mis- I wouldn’t have a passion for musicals.
A lot goes into how you rank musicals. You can NEVER love musicals without loving the songs. Without that- you struggle with connecting to the plot and characters. The songs are how you emotionally connect and fall in love with the plot and characters. The characters are the most comfortable expressing their emotions by song. The last factor is the impact- how meaningful is the musical? There are musicals that are more likely to stay in your life- those are the meaningful ones. Long after the curtain falls- the characters and plot live in you- you don’t want them in die in you.