Little Things in Musicals I Get Excited Over

What are some tiny things in musicals I get excited over?

1. Hearing the orchestra warm up

2. Hearing the first notes of the show

3. Learning I am going to see a musical

4. Discovering I am going to love a musical- this can happen during a live performance, during a movie, or music alone

5. The crescendos

6. Feeling the first goosebumps

7. Beginning of tears

8. Receiving a playbill (most of those were given at the door, and only one had to be bought)

9. Buying souvenirs- bought things like CDs, T-Shirts, and Posters

10. Seeing the set

11. Discovering something new about a character and/or the musical

12. Hearing first lyrics of a song

Some of these seem odd, but so true.

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The Importance of Not Comparing One Musical Cast to Another

This topic is something I have not discussed on my blog. If you have seen the same musical more than once, most likely you will see a different cast. It is highly important you don’t compare that cast to the previous cast. But why? I will explain it.

If you compare, it might make the most recent cast seem week. It will not allow you to make the most of the cast you got. Plus, if you end up with an understudy, it will not give them the respect they deserve. Below I will give an example of when I did not compare casts.

Les Mis- West End vs North American Cast

Coming into the most recent North America Cast, I decided not to compare them to the West End cast. It would be easy to compare them. After all my West End cast was brilliant, and they were quite special to me. Those in my West End cast were Adam Bayjou (understudy Jean Valjean), Jeremy Secomb (Javert), Rachelle Ann Go (Fantine), Zoe Doano (Cosette), Rob Houchen (Marius), Carrie Hope Fletcher (Eponine), Phil Daniels (Monsieur Thenardier), Katy Secombe (Madame Thenardier), and Bradley Jaden (Enjolras). After all, you expect a West End cast to be top notch and highly talented. This particular cast will always be special to me. However, that does you should see other casts as weaker as that particular cast. It does not mean that other casts will have less talent.

In absolutely no way, I was going to compare my North American cast to the cast I had in the West End especially in the case of Eponine. This cast was Nick Cartell (Jean Valjean), Josh Davis (Javert), Melissa Mitchell (Fantine), Jillian Butler (Cosette), Joshua Grosso (Marius), Talia Simone Robinson (understudy Eponine), J. Anthony Crane (Monsieur Thenardier), Allison Guinn (Madame Thenardier), and Matt Shingledecker (Enjolras).

On tour, I had an understudy as Eponine, and that was why it was really important not to compare those two actresses. I truly understand how to view understudies in a musical.  I was going to get the most out of this cast and appreciate what they are were able to bring and I wanted to see their talent. Nick Cartell was a talented Jean Valjean– his “Bring HimHome” was quiet and strong enough for what the scene required and truly sounded like a prayer. Josh Davis nailed Javert’s noice and sang a fine rendition of Stars- he only fell short at Javert’s Suicide. Mellissa Mitchell may not have shown the desperate side of Fantine fully, but she showed the naive side of Fantine, but that is still Fantine.

About the love triangle, it was so different. I almost didn’t know what to do at first. It was definitely a dynamic I never experienced. So much of my focus ended up being on Marius: after all Joshua was the standout. Due to that, it was very difficult to pay attention to Talia Simone Robinson as Eponine. She had some strong moments as Eponine: she did struggle at first, but eventually did embody her. Jillian Butler (Cosette) matched perfectly with Joshua.

Matt Shingledecker was a passionate Enjolras.  Just like the West End ensemble, they were also epic, passionate, and powerful. J. Anthony Crane and Allison Guinn were hilarious. In addition, I was an emotional wreck and felt goosebumps. Due to not comparing this cast to the West End cast, they were able to live up to them in their own way. In addition, I was able to see how talented this particular cast was and was able to appreciate my Eponine understudy.

So in no way, it is right to compare one cast to another.

Finding Your Spiritual Gifts

We all have a spirit. We all have spiritual gifts. But do you feel like it is sometimes hard to feel them. Starting last Sunday, I started taking a Sunday school class that is about finding your spiritual gifts. They are ones you are naturally born with or they are developed over the time. We might all have a spirit, but each of us have different spiritual gifts.

Below is a definition of spiritual gifts

Also called charisms, and partially listed in 1 Cor 12:4-11, these are graces granted by the Holy Spirit to empower the faithful to perform specific tasks. Called gratiae gratis datae (freely given graces) by the scholastics, they are at the service of charity (1 Cor 13:13). Given over and above the fundamental gift of faith and friendship with God (or, gratia sanctificans, sanctifying grace) they are neither necessary nor sufficient to salvation, but they characterize the specific call of God to each believer.

-Episcopal Church Glossary

So Spiritual gifts are a part of make us who we are. Spiritual gifts are not the same things as some of the talents we have.

There are different kinds of gifts, but the Spirit distributes them. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work.

Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. To one there is given through the Spirit a message of wisdom, to another a message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit, to another miraculous powers, to another prophecy, to another distinguishing between spirits, to another speaking in different kinds of tongues, and to still another the interoperation of tones. All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he distributes them to each one, just as he determines

-1 Corinthians 12:4-11

Found in that passage above shows a sample of various spiritual gifts we can have. So spiritual gifts are different from one person to the next. All of this gifts are necessary. Is there a purpose for this gifts? Yes, there is. They are there to remind us that we need each each other and to glorify good.

 

 

 

 

Can You be a Musical Theatre Fanatic and Not Love Every Single Musical?

About the question in the headline, there are several musicals out there. I am a musical theatre fanatic, but that does not necessarily mean I have to love every single musical. There will always be that type of musical that will always be kind of “Meh” to you. So what does it mean to be a musical theatre fanatic and not love ALL musicals?

First let me mention some musicals I do not like. Some musicals I already said I do not like from listening to just a few of the songs or just seeing a few scenes. Some I actually saw, but just did not like them. I saw Addams Family, La Cage, and Porgy and Bess live, but all three of them I just did not like. I saw the film of Into the Woods, but just about all the songs except for a few were not songs I appreciated. Then there is Hamilton: the moment I heard it was a hip-hop and rap natured musical, I was turned off by it, and I have heard a number of songs, and to my ears, they are not very appealing. I have seen some scenes from the Sweeney Todd movie on T.V., and just by looking at this scenes, it was too gross so that musical just is not one that I could possibly like one bit. So you see, I have found musicals that are not for me.

So what does it mean to be a fan of musicals? It is someone who enjoys going to the theatre to watch musicals. It is someone who listens to the soundtracks. It is someone who appreciates feeling the various emotions the characters are feeling. After all, I do love a number of musicals: Les Mis, Wicked, Beauty and the Beast, Newsies, Man of Mancha, Godspell, Grease, Mamma Mia, Oklahoma, South Pacific, Sound of Music, Annie, Rent, Music Man, Pippin, and Phantom of the Opera. A musical theatre fan understands the beauty behind musicals. You can truly be a musical theatre fan and not love every single musical because there are just too many to be able to love. There will always be that one that is just not one you will appreciate. Being a musical theatre fan means different things to other people. Just saying.

My Journey to “Fairy Frogs and Toads” at this point

I finally can commit to my book now that I am done with Nicholas Nickleby. Since the book does not have a title, I decided to call it “Fairy Frogs and Toads” at this point so people will know what I am talking.

One of the things I love about Charlotte are the various Greenways. It was about six years ago, and I remember about six years ago, I was on this broadwalk, and I looked to the left, and I saw a bunch of these cattails. I thought “Cattail Forest”. That is basically where the idea was born. As the years went by, more and more ideas were added to this story. I don’t know how I came up with some of the character names or when certain plot points : but I do how I came up with some: Sarge- his name was inspired by a character from the movie, Cars II and Tweetsie, who was added to the book this year was named after the Tweetsie Railroad.

One of the hardest things about this journey was figuring out if I wanted it to be a picture book or a chapter book. I soon realized the plot fits better in a chapter book. I still wanted illustrations to be a part of it: the world the Fairy Frogs live in made sense for illustrations so that is what it is going to be. The Fairy Frogs after all are Spring Green: not just any Spring Green: a special Spring Green that speaks Fairy- their wings are translucent with a gold trim. The toads are Gray Green, and some toads have warts- so them are not very pleasant to look at.

Either this year or last year, I don’t know why, but the phrase Graysloup came out of my mouth. I just thought, you know what, that should be the name of where the Toads live. After all, Graysloup is very dreary and the weather is quite humid and muggy. There are ditches, the creeks are not clear, thy have to sleep underneath a highway, so it is not very appealing: see why Marge is trying to get Sarge to clean up the place or get them to move out.

I started writing the book this summer. Then I had to take a bit of a break not knowing how to continue. I also knew that I had no idea how some of the characters were. I realized in that time frame, there was no why I could write this book while being in the middle of reading Nicholas Nickleby. So once I put down Nicholas Nickleby, I fully committed to writing the book down.

Just a week ago, I think, I went to Lowes Hardware to try to figure out which Spring Green the Fairy Frogs were and which Gray Green the Toads were. The Fairy Frogs, the color was always struggle. It was a special Spring Green after all: after all they are Fairies  and had to work well with their wings.

I have always been this storyteller- just never written a story down. So just from seeing those cattails, a story was born. That is where it began. All of the Fairy Frogs’ names are very magical and enchanting. All the Toads are well Toady and fit their characters- see what I mean. Over time, I loved the storyline more and more. The two leader names show the differences big time: Aires and Sarge: what is crazy about them being leaders is that they also are uncles in my story: Aires is Darcy’s uncle while Sarge’s is Marge’s uncle.

 

Changes made over the years:

1. Marge’s relationship to Sarge- she originally wasn’t to be Sarge’s niece. I soon realized it will be make Sarge a better antagonist and Marge a better character if I make them related. It also gives Sparkle a bigger motivation to befriend Marge. So that change I decided made the story even stronger

2. I realized this yesterday. Do you know how “Cattail Forest” was the name of of where the Fairy Frogs live? I realized that is not the right name. That should be the name of the entire Greenway. The Fairy Frogs need a name that is more magical and enchanting. After all, there is a grove of trees in the middle- found in these trees are treehouses suited towards the talents of each frog. The trees are connected by bridges. In the habitat, there is a Gazebo for the singers, dancers, and performers to entertain. The creeks are extremely clear and are lined with painted pebbles, and some are carved into various shapes.

 

I put down a breakdown once again of the book: just really short

Basically, Sparkle befriends Marge, who is in need of a friend and compassion. But Sarge, leader of the toads and Marge’s keeps on trying to get in the way of their friendship. Sparkle’s friendship with Marge eventually leads all the Fairy Frogs to try to befriend all the Fairy Frogs.

 

All the characters: names will tell you if they are a toad or Fairy Frog

Sparkle- a drawer, who is 12 and best friends with Misty. She is adventurous, courageous, and rebellious. She is so invested in her drawing that she is willing to draw anymore even in places that are off limits: that is how she meets Marge in the first place.

Misty- a singer, who is also 12 and Sparkle best friend. She is fiercely protective of Sparkle, which makes it hard for her to find time to write her music.

Aires- a confident leader and uncle to Darcy. He is head carpenter and his one rule is to: stay away from Graysloup: he made that rule to protect the Fairy Frogs from getting hurt. He is always worried about Sparkle since she always gets into trouble.

Darcy- Aires’ nephew. He is a sculpture frog and best friends of Felipe. He is about 14 or 15- I don’t have any personality traits yet in him. This is just as much as I know about him as now: I am hoping as I write the book his personality will come out.

Felipe- He is 15 and he is Darcy’s best friend. He is a woodcarver.

Celeste- She is only 8 and is a potter.

Tweetsie- I actually named her after the Tweetsie railroad. She is discovering what her natural talent is throughout the book. She is only 5 years old and is very energetic. By the end of the book, she will finally discover what she is naturally gifted in.

Sarge- he is the leader of the Toads and Marge’s uncle. He is the complete opposite of Aires. He and his brother (Marge’s father) never had a good relationship, and is part of what made him become who he is. He mistreats all the toads and demands some of them to mistreats other creature so he is a not good leader one bit. It is the worst when he mistreats his niece, Marge: it is his NIECE for crying out loud. So he is basically a bully throughout the book- he is the main antagonist of this book. If Sarge does not clean his act up in the very act, I will kick himself out of Graysloup.

Marge- I have this very soft spot for her due to how Sarge treats her. For someone who is 12, she has this incredible wisdom. She knows that how Sarge is running Graysloup is not right: she has stood up to him on multiple occasions- told him to clean up his act or told him to clean up Graysloup, but always does not end so well. She feels like this outsider and always wants to stay away from him. All she wants is for someone to show her compassion and to be a friend. She knows that other toads are suffering and she wants to make right: her friendship with Sparkle is the center core of the book.

Norg: while Sarge is the main antagonist, he is the 2nd in line. He is Sarge’s spy, who spies on the toads for any unusual activity especially on Marge. He tells Sarge whenever Fairy Frogs are there to make it easier for Sarge to split up the friendship cycle. But it will be much easier for Norg to clean up his act than Sarge- so if Norg redeems himself and proves himself to be a leader in the end of the story, he will become the new toad leader in the end.

Claude- he is only rude because Sarge demands it, not because he wants to. He is only about 14/15. When the Fairy Frogs begin befriending the toads, he ends up becoming friends with Darcy and Felipe: after all they are about the same age.

Effa/Rudy: I don’t know a clue about them, but I didn’t want Marge to be the only girl toad

 

 

Nicholas Nickleby Book Review

I started reading Nicholas Nickleby after getting from college in May and now August 14th finally finished that book. It is by longest book I read by Charles Dickens. It felt like I will never finish this book due to the length- but the level the challenge of classics.

When Nicholas Nickleby is left penniless after his father’s death, he appeals to his wealthy uncle to help him find work and to protect his mother and sister. But Ralph Nickleby proves both hard-hearted and unscrupulous, and Nicholas finds himself forced to make his own way in the world

-Goodreads

I really loved this book. The first chapter though was very complicated. It first explained Nicholas Nickleby’ family tree. So there is more than Nicholas and more than one Ralph so I was like which one is the uncle and which is the Nicholas in the novel. So I was quite confused at which one belonged to the entire story. I figured it eventually- so the first chapter probably might be confusing.

What is interesting is that you get to be introduced to Ralph Nickleby, Nicholas’ uncle and antagonist, first before you get introduced to Nicholas, the protagonist. I am used to hearing about the protagonist first not the antagonist. I am not the biggest fan of Ralph-, he always had a big hatred towards his nephew. He kept plotting always all of schemes, which always made me mad and annoyed with him.

 

How I Thought of the Plot:

The plot has many plot twists. I loved how Nicholas looked after his sister and mother. Then I really loved how he looked after Smike. One thing that really drew me to the plot was the fact that Nicholas actually worked in a theatre troupe for some time-as a musical theatre fanatic, I loved reading those parts. Nicholas had to runaway from London for part of the time after his Uncle heard after an incident that happened regarding Mr. Squeers and Nicholas. Nicholas’ family was struggling in finances throughout the entire book- but things do get better for them. The plot can be confusing at times. You think all of the subplots have finished entering by a certain point, but than they haven’t. Of all Charles Dickens I have read, this one has more characters and subplots than any one of them: no wonder it is so long.

 

Favorite Characters: There are a characters, who have heart

Nicholas- filled with compassion who looks out for his family along with Smike. When he first met Smike at Dothesboys School, he felt compassion for the boy. After Smike followed Nicholas and when Nicholas realized that Smike followed him, Nicholas let Smike join him. He is such a wonderful protagonist. Nicholas is prone is violence, which is one of his flaws, but being flawed does make a character believable.

Smike- I just loved the spirit the boy has. Before Nicholas entered his life, he has been mistreated. Nicholas is the first person in his life who has showed him compassion and compassion. So when Nicholas left the school, Smike sneakily followed Nicholas. He said to Nicholas something like “wherever you go, I will go to”. I just love the bond these two share. Those two actually are my all-time favorite characters.

Yes, I  like other characters, but Nicholas and Smike are my main favorites.

 

Least Favorite Characters- I can tell you this, NN has a lot of villainous characters

1. Ralph Nickleby- I already made that clear in the beginning. At the beginning, he doesn’t seem that much of a villain, but as the story continues, he hates his nephew more and more.

2. Arthur Girde- one of the characters Ralph schemed with

3. Mr. Squeers- I don’t like the way he ran that Yorkshire school, basically a school for unwanted boys. They all are mistreated and abused. The three end up scheming among each other.

Pretty much, I didn’t like any of the characters who were villains

Below is a snippet from my upcoming project- I said after I finish NN, I will go back to my book I am writing. I do not have a first draft or anything. This might still need some help. Since there is no title yet in this children’s fantasy, I am calling it “Fairy Frogs and Toads”.

Fairy Frogs, they are interesting creatures. They are gifted in the arts. They are spring green with translucent wings with a gold trim. They are deeply compassionate. What is fascinating is that not all humans can see them.

 

Ironic Heartbreaking Musical Theatre Love Songs

What on earth do I mean by a ironic  heartbreaking love musical theatre love song? These are love songs where you don’t except to happen or where thing improve in the end. There are going in be spoilers due to explaining why they are they are ironic in the first place.

1. This Nearly Was Mine- Emelie sings this breakup song after Nellie leaves him. The irony comes from the fact that Nellie comes back to Emelie in the end.

2. I’m Not That Girl/I’m Not That Girl (Reprise)- When Elphaba sings “I’m Not That Girl”, the unrequited love song, little does she know that Fiyero will eventually realize that she loves her. That is why you don’t except Glinda to sing “I’m Not That Girl (reprise)”

3. If I Can’t Love Her/ If I Can’t Love Her (Reprise)- ironic in the fact that the spell will eventually be broken. Beast feels like Belle will never love him. The reprise is actually more heartbreaking than the first one because he actually has fallen in love with Belle at that point. He has just released Belle as his prisoner, and he believes that Belle doesn’t love him, but in reality he does

There are other heartbreaking love musical theatre songs, but they are not ironic.