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.

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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.

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.

Top Ten Rent Songs

Next musical on this series, I will be making a list of my top ten songs from Rent. Rent is one of those musicals I learned to love through the songs. This may not be exactly accurate, but will still be ten Rent songs I love.

Possible Spoilers:

1. Seasons of Love- this is my favorite song from Rent. It shows you just how precious and short life is. It shows you just how many minutes there are in a year, and how you should live life. It teaches you that you should measure your life in year. I just love the song’s message.

2. Finale B- just like Les Mis, Rent is a sad musical, but it ends perfectly making you feel inspired. In the scene previously, it appears as if Mimi was dying, but she actually survived. She has this near-death experience and choose to survive. This song really represents the overall message of the show- to live in the moment- No Day But Today

3. I Should Tell You- I don’t know what it is, but Mimi and Roger are my favorite couple in Rent. They may be a flawed couple, but they are a very realistic couple. This is the song where they finally are able to confess their feelings their feelings for each other

4. One Song Glory- this happens very early on in the musical. I love the overall melody of the piece. It is quite an emotional song to be honest; even though it doesn’t sound like. You have previously found out that Roger has HIV, and in this song, you find that he wants to write one great song before he dies.

5.  Another Day- this song has an interesting melody to it. At the beginning, there is kind of rocky edge of it when Roger is trying to refuse to go out with Mimi. Then when Mimi sings, it sings to the overall “No Day But Today” melody- so the song has a mixture of melodies going on. That “No Day But Today” melody happens in more than one song.

6. Will I- a very simple melody, but an extreme emotional reaction- it can actually reduce you to tears. It is only basically three lines song over and over again can causes that reaction: that is just how powerful that song is.

7. Without You- the 2nd act is more emotional then the 1st act. It seems as if Roger wants to split with Mimi. Plus, Angel is about to die from AIDS- he had HIV in the first act. So this is a highly emotional song. Collins never once leaves Angel in this song- they make the most of their relationship. On the other hand- Roger and Mimi constantly fight and split up; but always seem to love each other- the brokenness of their relationship at times is kind of why I am confused at why Roger and Mimi are my favorite couple in Rent

8. Goodbye Love- an extremely high stake song. Angel has died and now all of these friends are fighting. I still love this song- they just feel like they are getting split up. A lot happens in this song.

9. La Vie Boheme- what is nice about this song is at least it isn’t quite as emotional as many of the others. It helps lighten up the mood a bit. At least Roger has finally left his apartment. That is really why I love this song- lightens up the mood. After all, Rent is a sad musical- sad musicals did those kind of breaks or they get just way too overwhelming.

10. What You Own- I love how this is a man/man duet. Many musical theatre duets are between a man/woman due to romance songs. This is a duet found between Roger and Mark. They both have huge epiphany moments during this song. Mark has finally figured out the film he really wants to create, and Roger realizes the big song he wants to write. Roger just realized how much he really needs Mimi in his life just by seeing in Santa Fe- he decides to write his song about Mimi and his feelings for her.

Musical Theatre Tag

I have seen this being on wordpress for a while now, and I think it is time for me to do this, but I decided to put my own twist on this.

1. What was the first musical you ever saw? The first musical I remember seeing live is Wicked, but know I saw musicals earlier since my parents told me. Either the first musical I saw live was Seussical the Musical, Cats, Beauty and the Beast, or Lion King. Wish I knew which one was first. 

2. What was your favourite musical growing up? Annie was my favorite musical in elementary school; but starting in middle school, Wicked became my favorite musical. So Wicked was my favorite musical growing up.

3. Were you ever in a musical? No, and probably never will since I can’t sing very well, but still love to sing to musical theatre songs.

 

Originally it said what was the first musical you saw in the West End, but I saw a musical on Broadway and in the West End so I decided to bring up both.

4.  What was the first musical you saw on Broadway? Wicked- aged 12; year 2006 with my mom. Favorite song: “Popular”. This was a turning point in my love for musicals. Wicked sparked my love for musicals.

5. What was the first musical you saw in the West End? Les Mis- it wasn’t just seeing Les Mis. It was a dream fulfilled. Les Mis was the musical that challenged everything I once knew about musicals. I thought ALL musicals were HAPPY; I thought a musical song could never be HEARTBREAKING; the list continues. My love for Les Mis started with the film eventually leading me to develop a dream for seeing it in the West End. When I found out I was seeing Les Mis in London, I just ran up to my mom and started crying. I live in the United States so I had no idea when that dream was going to become reality. That dream came true July 30th, 2015. I remember actually seeing the Queen’s being like there is no way I just saw that: even buying my souvenirs to noticing I had an understudy for Jean Valjean to noticing how close I was to viewing the stage- it all felt like a dream- then I heard the first of the orchestra- I just knew then that this dream was going to be reality and that it was going to be more than expected, and I was right. 

6.  Favourite film adaption of a musical? This ties into #5. Les Mis is my favorite film adaption all because of the impact the film would have on my life. Back in high school, I told myself I will never love a TRAGEDY: I thought they were pure sad. But Les Mis told me they are not what you think they are: Les Mis after all is home to so many spiritual elements. The film taught me so much and would begin my obsession and passion for Les Mis.

7. Overrated musical? Hamilton- I almost feel like the love for this musical grew almost too quickly. Some people have called me a “fake” musical fan for not being willing to give it a chance. Well, I don’t like hip-hop one bit. I have a hard time understanding the hype behind. I just think it is overrated. 

8. Underrated musical? Newsies is one of the underrated Disney musical. Yes, it is a Tony-Award winner, but Disney musicals like Lion King, Aladdin, and Beauty and the Beast are put in the spotlight so much more. The stage adaptations have only been playing in the United States: played on Broadway for two years, toured for two years; and been playing in local and regional theaters across the country and it has been at my hometown’s community college. I wish other countries could experience this musical. It is very energetic musical filled with very fancy dancing. It is unique in the fact that is mostly filled with young males- how many musicals are mostly young males? The score is mostly energetic, but a few songs are emotional. It is based off of a true event: Newsboy Strike of 1899, an event that I feel like more people should know about.

9. What musical made you cry? Les Mis automatically comes to mind. After 5 years, I would think I would be immune to it by now, but nope I still am an emotional wreck watching it. Whether it is the movie, 25th concert, the soundtrack or the stage show, I still am in tears. After all, it is heartbreaking song after heartbreaking song with barely a break to recover yourself, and is so powerful that it just has this impact on you. The emotional impact is a huge reason why Les Mis is the sensation that it is. 

10. What musical made you laugh? Wicked automatically comes to mind when I think of musicals that makes me laugh. Last time I saw Wicked, Amanda Jane Copper’s Glinda made me laugh during all of Glinda’s lines where she is supposed to be funny. It just is is clever show where you laugh at a number of times throughout the the show.

 

Okay, 11/12 originally said favorite musical theatre actor/actress. I didn’t think that was fair either. How can I just pick if I always come across new actors/actresses each and every single time?  Plus what happens if you comes across standbys and understudies who are just as good as those who are not? Plus, I have never seen the same actor or actress in more than one lead role. So I went to thinking about my standouts- one of these picks is going to make a point about something that some people fail to understand.

11. What is a standout actresses in a musical? Mary Kate Morrisey- standby for Elphaba (2016). People fail to understand just how TALENTED standbys and understudies are, which is why I used her for this one. She embodied Elphaba perfectly while still making the role perfectly. She changed Elphaba’s voice from act I to act II to show how Elphaba went from being this innocent young girl to this mature young woman. She showed everything that makes Elphaba who she is. She actually made me appreciate a song I always hated: “No Good Deed”- I mean I finally felt the energy and the emotions finally stuck.

12. What is a standout actor in a musical? Joshua Grosso- Les Mis North America Tour (Marius). He comes to mind a lot lately. For the love triangle, he was paired with Jillian Butler (Cosette) and understudy Talia Simone Robinson (Eponine). What happens when your favorite character in the Les Mis love triangle is Eponine, but the standout actor is Marius? His Marius was charming and awkward- awkwardness was an added personality trait for me. The little things he did with his character like acting stunned after Eponine died and then saying “grow” in quite a heartbreaking way. He focused  more on comforting Eponine in “A Little Fall of Rain” than acting heartbroken, and that to me was very effective- I love how he waited till the end to show how hurt he was. He treated falling in love with Cosette like “I’m in love but what on earth do I with this emotion”. He was very emotional during “Empty Chairs At Empty Chairs”. The way he played Marius, and the little things he did actually made him almost a core favorite Les Mis character in my mind. I feel like he perfectly understood who Marius was as a character- he actually became my favorite Marius.

13. What musical are you dying to see?  Frozen is a musical I am just dying to see. Every since hearing about it being on Broadway, I was so badly wanted to see it. But have to wait till it tours since I live in Charlotte, North Carolina. Charlotte is a nice place to live if you live in the United States and don’t live near New York City because it is popular stop for tours.

14. What is your all-time favorite musical? Here me out on this: I have a two-way tie. Les Mis and Wicked have been competing with each other for five years now. So many people have saying to me it has to be Les Mis because you have so much more knowledge of it and you are obsessed with- I feel like it is much easier to get to know the Les Mis characters. What makes Les Mis harder to push past Wicked for me is that Wicked has the spectacle/dance I want in a musical and Wicked is a home to a character I strongly relate to (Elphaba). Les Mis despite being not having the dance/spectacle I want makes up for it throughout its extremely powerful and epic emotional nature.

 

So I had to alter things up a bit because some areas didn’t seem fair to me. One I had been to both the West End and Broadway so I wanted to show it in the tag. Two, I don’t have an all-time favorite musical-theatre actor or actress so I thought of my standouts- I wanted to use one of my standbys or understudies to show they have just as much TALENT as those who are not.

 

My Snowglobe Collection

I cannot believe I never talked about this on my blog before, but I collect snow globes, and I want to show my followers my snowglobe collection.

Below are my small snowglobes. My Paris one is looking a bit sad since it has lost water. I don’t think that was bought when I went to Paris. Sometimes people buy me snowglobes on their vacations; but most of them I buy.  Also found within the small snow gloves are ones from the Jacksonville Zoo, Chicago, Africa, Hilton Head, Rome, Atlanta, and an additional France one. I love how my snowglobes are a mix of small and big snowglobes. The Rome and Africa ones are places I haven’t been to for instance.

In terms of most of the other locations, I remember going to. Like Jacksonville, I go to Ponte Vedra annually; which is about twenty to thirty minutes away from from the Jacksonville Zoo. In 2015, I went to Chicago to celebrate my grandma’s 85th birthday with my extended family, and I wanted to find a snowglobe.

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Below ares snowglobes that people made for me. The one on the left my parents made for me. As a bit of background, Kanuga is an Episcopalian Conference Center located in Hendersonville, NC. Annually my church goes on a Parish Weekend there- I have been there for the Parish Weekends, Thanksgiving and a high school youth conference called Winterlight. Kanuga was the place where I truly began to believe in God. So that snowglobe has a very special meaning to me.

As for the other one- for my 24th birthday, my two suitemates made that for me. My suite started with six of us, but in the 2nd semester, it ended up just the three of us. Knowing that I collect snowglobes, they ended up giving me a snowglobe. Before heading for dinner, a picture was taken of all three of us, which was put in the snowglobe.

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The Maine snowglobe is another one of a place I didn’t go to, but close family friends got that for me. Saint Louis is situated in Missouri and like Florida, I have created some very lasting memories there like going to the City Museum, going up in the arch, seeing Cardinals baseball games or spending a week with my grandma alone (which was when I saw Annie). I am glad I got that snow glove. As for Grandfather Mountain, I went there when the daughter of a close family friend invited me to spend time at Montreat, which is near Black Mountain, and part of that trip involved going to Grandfather Mountain,  and that is where I bought the snowglobe.

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The three snowglobes below come from three very special trips of mine. Spending time in Alaska wasn’t just some ordinary vacation: My family and extended family went to Alaska through a program called Tauck Bridges- think of it as cruise; but our main traveling was by bus, not by boat. We ended up geocaching, meeting husky dogs, lots of hiking, seeing wonderful glaciers, and so many other wonderful things. This all happened in 2011.

I went to Costa Rica in 2014 when I was still a student at Central Piedmont Community College. I studied abroad in Costa Rica for two weeks. We ended up staying in Atenas, Costra Rica, which is about thirty minutes away from San Jose. It was a cultural immersion study abroad trip. Part of it included visiting a farmer’s market, which I got to enjoy coconut water, where we got to drink it straight out of a coconut. We did some service as well. Part of it included going to the theatre, where we saw a comedy, but I was kind of confused as to what was going on. We a few days in Monteverde Rainforest Preserve, where one day all of us hiked and another we participated in the canopy zipline. The zipline was scary at times because we were right above the canopy and when I would get stuck in the middle; I had to right for a guide to get me so I would just be dangling there and it was scary just knowing how high up I was. Costa Rica was one of the most beautiful countries I ever visited.

So many followers know about England. It was debatable if I should get my snowglobe in London or Bristol. This was my very first pilgrimage, which would become a huge part of my spiritual journey, which would become very transforming in many ways. I thought I wouldn’t attend all ten church services, but I did. My mountain-top moment was Stonehnge because of the way the wind was pushing me me towards the stones and the atmosphere surrounding the stones. Even the small parts that weren’t as effective like Bath would add up in the end. Even the two extra days, that weren’t part of the pilgrimage, were still part of England- I mean Les Mis followed perfectly into the pilgrimage- after all Les Mis is a spiritual journey- which meant I would go on Jean Valjean’s spiritual journey the day before I went on my own- see what I mean.

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Now on to the gigantic snowglobe. This was a Christmas present one year. This was the most perfect gift for me. After all it is a Wicked snowglobe. It represents my love for musical theatre perfectly. My love for Wicked is so special- I have loved it for 12 years now. My vision of musicals is represented perfectly in Wicked and if you turn in upside down, there is a way for it to start playing “For Good”. Wicked actually sparked my love for musicals- if Wicked never entered my life- Les Mis wouldn’t have able to enter my life. So Wicked is very very special to me- my favorite musical character is part of Wicked- Elphaba.

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Favorite Songs from Annie

Just like Sound of Music, another childhood favorite of mine. It has been one I loved since elementary school. Before Wicked entered my life, Annie was my favorite musical. Now here is my list of favorite songs from Annie.

1. Tomorrow- this is the anthem of hope. This is my all-time favorite song from the show. It just shows how optimistic Annie is. It was Annie’s optimism that made me love the musical. It was very optimistic as a child and still am.

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2. Hard Knock Life- It just has a very catchy melody filled with catchy lyrics

3. Your’e Never Fully Dressed Without a Smile- I love seeing the orphans all happy in this song. They are not being forced to clean or anything. They just are having this good time being kids.

4. I Think I’ll Like It Here- It really shows Annie’s excitement about spending a week with “Daddy” Warbucks. It shows how much she never got to enjoy at the orphanage. The melody is very fun to listen to.

5. Tomorrow (Reprise)- I love how Annie helps the president in this number reminding him there is hope for the future. Than the president and others join in with her to sing this song

6. NYC- this song is only in the stage show; but in the movie the song that replaces it is “Let’s Go to the Movies”. “NYC” though brings the entire setting of Annie to life. NYC is really when “Daddy” Warbucks starts to love Annie. “NYC” is a very spectacular scene to watch. In many ways, I prefer this song to the song that replaced it in the movie.