For the 90s kids, we grew up on Ariel, Jasmine, Belle- we know the princesses I am talking about. Who of the batch do I relate to the most?
I believe, for me, it would be Belle. I am that bookworm-I love to read fantasies and classics. For a typical millennial- the word classic is something that they wouldn’t read unless it is required for class. I love fantasies like Hobbit/Lord of the Rings and Chronicles of Narnia among others- even standalone: I am writing a fantasy now. I love the classics- I am literally reading “The Iliad”- that is something you probably would not expect and later will read “The Odyssey”. I do love Nicholas Nickleby, David Copperfield, A Christmas Carol, Tale of Two Cities, Great Expectations, Hunchback of Notre Dame, and you are expecting me to say this book: Les Misérables. So yes, I love to read.
Like Belle, I know what it is like to be kinda of well different. As in, I can understand when people say “she is odd”. She most certainly is not- she is brave, strong, caring and independent. You see most of who she is at the castle when she takes her father’s place- that is bravery the moment she agrees and in some ways, that does take strength. More moments show that- like preventing Gaston from killing Beast, etc….Her caring part comes from when she has the chance to escape after the wolf attack, but decides to take Beast back to the castle instead- I honestly think it was when Beast saved her from the wolves when he started to change. Belle and Beast had a relationship that developed over time; not at first sight.
Next post will be for the contemporary Disney princess I relate to the most
In any type of storytelling-there two chief characters, as in the two most important. They are your protagonist (main character) and your antagonist (who opposes the protagonist). With the antagonist, there are different types- it is assumed that ALL antagonists are villains, but not necessarily. What are the different kinds of antagonists?
The villains are what people associate with antagonists the most. They actually are the ones who tend to be power-hungry and are the most evil. They usually have dark plans and seek murder, overthrow a country, among other evil. They are the LEAST likely to redeem themselves. It is the hardest for me to have any sympathy or understand them. The villains seem to oppose the entire world they live in- they seem to seek to want to destroy it, so they oppose not just the protagonist, but several characters as in those that are good. Voldemort and Sauron are two examples- two dark lords.
They are still people, but not so much on the evil side of things. Sometimes, it can be a bit easier to understand why they act the way they do. They still oppose they protagonist; just usually make their lives even more difficult. They have a much better chance of changing even if it doesn’t always happen. Sarge and Javert are two examples.
One of my biggest struggles in my book is HOW to make Sarge look like a typical antagonist on the page without making him look anywhere like a villain- after all, Sarge is from a children’s book- when kids think of antagonists- the word villain comes to mind.
We have heard the phrase “man vs. self” conflict. When a book has that going on, then the antagonist is part of the protagonist. With the other examples, of course the protagonist might have some inner struggles, but someone is opposed to them, which is why they don’t have that inner antagonist. It is only in the man vs. conflict books that the inner conflict exists. So, that would make Scrooge kind of an antagonist since “A Christmas Carol” has that “man vs. self” conflict.
I believe my book, Greatest Discovery, will have the inner antagonist going on.
It is crazy to think about that without the antagonist, there would be no story. It is hard that different sort of antagonists exist- some are just villains, some are typical, and some the protagonist’s struggle where no one is against them. The antagonist’s job is to make sure it gets hard for the protagonist to reach their goal- some of the typical antagonists are assumed to be villains, which at times is not true.
What does Les Mis, La Bohème, Phantom of the Opera, and Newsies have in common? They all take place during the 1800s and they are musical shows (either a musical or an opera). All of them, but Newsies, take place in France. Newsies is the one looks out of place- it is Disney and takes place in Manhattan. However- Newsies still takes place in the same century as the other three. I do love all four shows- will try to explain below.
It is obvious by now that Les Mis holds a lot of meaning. Strong emotional connection. Tragic and inspiring storyline. Powerful, emotional, epic, and passionate songs. While a tragedy- still has its’ themes of compassion, hope, love, forgiveness, sacrifice, humanity, and redemption. The characters are so interconnected that they directly and indirectly impact each others’ lives. Les Mis is so carefully planned out that if you get of one small thing- even one tiny thing-the entire thing starts unraveling itself. Those songs are emotional to the point of getting goosebumps and reducing you to tears- that is what they have done to me.
This is an opera- but still fits under the umbrella of telling a story through song. La Bohème is the tragic love story of Rodolfo and Mimi set in France in the 1830s. The songs between Rodolfo and Mimi are beautiful and truly brings out their love for each other even in the end-no matter the complications that come up in their relationship, they always had true love for each other. La Bohème so far is my favorite love story despite it being tragic.
Phantom of the Opera
Now, going further into the 1800s- as in late 1800s, we move into the Paris Opera House. This is truly a hauntingly beautiful musical. Phantom of the Opera is a love triangle found between Phantom, Christine, and Raoul. It is full of suspense, mystery, revenge, beauty, and love. While Christine and Raoul truly love each other, it makes Phantom not react well to his unrequited love, which makes it angelic and beautiful, but haunting. The music is haunting at times and beautiful at times-which fits perfectly into Phantom of the Opera.
Yes, Newsies is a 1800s musical, and it is set in 1899 in Manhattan. It is about the Newsboys Strike of 1899, and yes this event really did happen. When Pulitizer raised the price of newspapers, the newsboys went on strike. Eventually, this event was known through the musical, Newsies. There are a lot of reasons why I love Newsies- the mind-blowing dance, the energetic and at times emotional songs, the characters, and the story.
I love the Newsies mostly Jack Kelly (their leader) and Crutchie, and part of that comes from their intimate and special bond. When you see Newsies, you will see dance that will blow your mind: it did win Tony Award Choreography, and you will understand why once you see the show. Due to it being a dance-natured show, it has to have energetic songs, and “Seize the Day” is my favorite song in Newsies (there is one moment, they are dancing on Newspapers). There are even more emotional songs (“Santa Fe” is a sad song). Eventually, once it had a tour, they added in “Letter from the Refuge”, Crutchie’s solo- it used to be just “Santa Fe”, that was sad, but “Letter From the Refuge” fits that too-now both are used for all productions. The storyline is so inspiring- the fact that these newsboys stood up for what they believe in, despite barely having much, and never gave up is incredible.
I have made lists of my favorite young characters before, but this time it will not include the children. It is amazing the kind of variety you can find in the young characters- where they live, their lives, and their personalities, etc…..
Friends of the ABC
It is amazing how so many characters happen to be young characters. Most of the characters I love in musical theatre fall under that world- young. It is amazing how they all vary.
While Operas and Musicals are both a form of storytelling where song is involved, they are still different. Both are home to tragedies and comedies- the difference is that operas have an association with tragedies and musicals have an association with comedies.
Here is one way I can describe operas’ association with tragedies. Look at the death scenes. Opera deaths take quite a LONG time- as in it can feel like an entire act. On the other hand, the musical deaths do not deal with that- their deaths take basically something like a few minutes. So here was just one way to describe how Operas are known for being tragic. When I saw La Bohème yesterday, Mimi’s death took basically an entire act- I believe part of the catharsis comes from Rodlofo being there.
Another difference has to do with the kind of language going on. In the musical theatre world, the musical is always translated to fit each country-English, Spanish, Japanese, etc….. Look what Opera does- it never translates: it is always the original language: usually either Italian or French.
Yes, I said the songs are usually translated in musicals and not in operas. However, there is still quite a difference. I have noticed that in operas, there tends to be this more classical sound. Musicals on the other hand have a more theatrical sound- the only type of songs that are the the closest to classical are some of the love songs (as in the ones that belong to a couple). That does explain the instruments that are being used- Operas have to use more strings while musicals, on the other hand, have to combine a more variety of instruments.
Well, there are tragic musicals. That would mean characters do die in some of them. There is one thing that might be a bit surprising, which did surprise me as well. There are actually deaths that have joy in them. That would not make sense. When we think of death- we think of grief and mourning. We do not even think that happiness could happen. Well, there actually is and the only way to understand is to understand the character. Les Mis is where I first saw deaths as memorable. SPOILERS.
First up is Fantine’s death. What we have seen is nothing but tragedy in her storyline. She literally was left alone to care for her daughter, Cosette. She is a struggling single mother, who left her daughter in the hands of the Thenardiers (little does she know the abuse Cosette will face). She did find a job at Valjean’s factory, but was fired. Well, this is when things get uncomfortable- her life has literally shattered: her dreams are broken and she had to nothing left to do but become a prostitute (“Lovely Ladies” is the hardest scene to watch). She is suffering a lot, but it is all of an unconditional love for her daughter. She eventually became seriously ill due to living on the streets, but luckily Valjean came to help her. When she was dying, he made a promise to raise Cosette-this gave her peace and comfort for once and a bit of happiness. So you see, you have to understand her love and hope for Cosette to figure this one out.
Second is Eponine’s death. Eponine is another tragic character. She is an unloved, abused, and neglected teenager. She grew up in the criminal world and ended up living in extreme poverty. She was never shown kindness by anyone. She literally only had one good thing in her life-Marius, who also was the only person who showed her kindness. Due to that, she fell in love with him, but unrequitedly. She was more loyal to him then her parents. She would do anything for him no matter the cost, which eventually led her to the barricade. She ended up sacrificing her life for him, which left Marius devastated, but at least he showed her compassion by holding her in his arms and giving her comfort by staying there until her death. The happiness comes from Marius being there. So once again another example.
Jean Valjean’s death is another example. He is our main character and is the father of Cosette. After all, he is the one who promised to raise Cosette after Fantine died. Cosette meant a lot to Valjean. Cosette had a better life once Valjean entered (she used to live with Eponine’s parents). After Cosette and Marius married, they ended up going to Valjean as he was dying. So he was able to see Cosette one last time- that is where the happiness comes from.
So you see, even tough moments can have the positive emotions going on. I never once would have though that even some of the most heartbreaking moments could possibly have happiness in it. It all comes down to understanding who characters are. The tragic musics, you need to be able to pick up on the positive emotions or else the trap of calling the musical TOO DEPRESSING comes up- that is what I originally called Les Mis. In Les Mis, I had to dig deeper to find what why I felt uplifted at the end because it did not make sense. All of the characters have their tragedies and their hopes- even the most tragic characters have some kind of light going on. Even the survivors have something tragic to deal with. You just have to understand characters to understand what I am talking about.
There was a time when the genre of tragedy was 100% foreign to me in all types of storytelling- in literature and in theatre. In 9th grade, when it was time to start studying Shakespare’s Romeo and Juliet, I finally discovered the genre of tragedy- I did make the WRONG assumptions about the genre and thought I would NEVER love one. Literally, I had thought they were pure sad, but little did I know what the future had in store for me. I was kinda of hoping tragedies did not exist in MUSICALS- I knew the emotion of sad existed and thought I knew the full extent of emotions, but did I?
This post is referring directly to Les Mis, the tragic story and musical that would change a lot of things. While it took a 2nd chance on the film to become a fan, it eventually would play a massive role in my role for musicals. While Wicked sparked the love, Les Mis was responsible for the passion. It was kinda of surprising to me that I had actually come across a tragic musical.
Well- one of the most common questions I am being asked it “why do you keep on going back to Les Mis if you keep on going to feel heartbroken like that?” November 3rd, 2019 marked my 6th time seeing the stage show, and I am not done yet. Well, while Les Mis is tragic and heartbreaking, it is so much more. For something to truly be tragic, there needs to be the “catharsis” at the end- it was that word that I failed to understand in the past. Les Mis is not only tragic and heartbreaking, it is also spiritual, inspiring, and uplifting. Why is that? Think about some of the themes- hope, love, compassion, forgiveness, sacrifice, humanity, and redemption: those can be hard to spot, but they are in there. So, the musical has a beautiful underlying spirituality, and that can keep you going despite the level of heartbreak- the emotions in Les Mis do get intense- as in feeling like you are hit by a pile of bricks (tears) and feeling goosebumps: it is that powerful.
There are characters in there you can easily get strongly attached to that you want to keep on seeing their stories’ unfold. Even if you know that some of their lives are tragic, you have to remember that “ALL” the characters in Les Mis experience something tragic- all of the leads. In addition to that, a lot of them have something hopeful even the most tragic characters. Do musical theatre characters’ truly die once the curtain falls? Do you know how I kept the Les Mis characters’ alive- in my heart and soul because of my emotion connection: that is how it is with emotional connection. People might think I am kinda of crazy because they might be like “didn’t a lot of them die”- well, yes, but you want characters’ stories to continue to live, which keeps them alive.
In addition, this is a STRONG point, which is true for basically every musical. The songs- those powerful, emotional, passionate, hopeful, and epic songs. This is a musical where the songs perfectly complement the characters- not the other way around. While I am it, the STRONG- Les Mis’ stories is so well-crafted that if you get rid of one tiny thing, the entire story starts unraveling itself- that means you need all of the characters and their storylines to happen or else the story is in ruins.
To try to summarize, what I tend to be drawn to are complex musicals. That would mean complex characters and a complex plot. That would include songs having positive and negative emotions. Les Mis has it all- complex characters, plot, and songs. It might not seem like it really has positive emotions, but they are there- sometimes it might mean looking deeper- the positive emotions get extremely clear when the students get in the picture: that is when hope seems to be the strongest if you did not notice it before. Love looks the strongest with Marius and Cosette- yes, its a love triangle, but I am talking about the positive emotions. There are actually some scenes you probably wouldn’t think would be capable of positive emotions, but they are there (death scenes for instance- its called understanding the characters to figure this one out).
By the end of feeling all of this heartbreak, Jean Valjean (the main character) does die- but with Cosette, his adopted daughter, and Marius, his now son-in-law by his side. We feel uplifted due to how strong Valjean’s redemption is at the end- we know how much he has changed-he does have the two candlesticks the bishop; he kept them with him ever since that particular moment. After Valjean dies, the ending song is a reprise of “Do you Hear the People Sing”- there are a number of hopeful lyrics- “Even the Darkest Night Will End and the Sun Will Rise”- the final lyrics are “Tomorrow Comes”. To me, this reprise represents heaven.
So you see, tragedies are not just tragic. They go beyond. Tragedies still have certain requirements they need. They always need to have heartbreak and pain. There still needs to death. There needs be comic relief, which gives you a break). Ultimately what needs to happen is the catharsis. If that is missing- then is not truly a tragedy. I would never see a sad show if it is pure sad-those are not my thing. Honestly, give us at least a break and give us that balance between the positive and negative. Les Mis succeed- there is a reason why it is the sensation that it is. I know why, but even I can’t explain.