The Impact Musical Theatre Had on my Life

It is hard to know the impact something has had on your life at times. Musical Theatre, as many know, has had a huge impact on my life. If it wasn’t for my family, musical theatre wouldn’t have been in my life. My first memory was seeing Wicked on Broadway, but I did see musicals prior. 

I was born in the 90s meaning I saw the classic Disney movies. Lion King, Aladdin, and Beauty and the Beast were part of my childhood. The musical movies of Grease, Sound of Music, and Annie were watched as well. At the time, Annie was my favorite musical. I think it was because at the time, I was optimistic just like Annie: I did not realize that meant I had an emotional connection to the character. I also saw stage shows in elementary school: Cats, Lion King, Beauty and the Beast (I think), and Seussical the Musical. So musicals were introduced to me at such a young age. At that young age, I enjoyed musicals. I did not fully understand musicals- I was into the dance and spectacle aspect- the emotion of excitement was the emotion that I understood the most. That was the beginning, but was it the beginning? No, it truly wasn’t. The beginning would actually begin in middle school. 

My mom and I went to NYC without my dad and my sister. That made the trip extra special to me. Little did I know that I stepped foot into the Gershwin Theatre to see Wicked, it would make a huge impact on my life and my love for musicals. All I remember about that time was that “Popular” was my favorite song: that is why it still is my favorite song from Wicked to this day. Through Wicked, I finally understood what an emotional connection was. I began to understand that a musical plot can be complex in both character and plot. I also started to understand the emotional nature of musicals- that is when the negative emotions came into the forefront. There were four core emotions- excitement, joy, love, and sad. Wicked changed me for the better. 

So my love for musicals was sparked. Elphaba, Glinda, and Fiyero meant a lot to me over these 12 years- especially Elphaba. The friendship and love triangle are my favorite storylines in Wicked; the ones I focus on the most- the rest ALWAYS get overlooked. I see a lot of myself in Elphaba, and at the same time, a lot of myself is not in her. I have seen Wicked once on Broadway and three times on tour. Each time I see it, I discover more about the show. 


I was convinced ALL MUSICALS WERE COMIC AND HAPPY: that is what I grew up with. I knew sad was common for a musical- only two musical songs were home to that emotion: “I’m Not That Girl” and “For Good”.  I thought musicals songs could not push past sad. I knew musicals could teach empathy and sympathy. Musicals were already making an impact on me. I was convinced that showtunes must be in all musicals, and same with dance. I was basing it all off of what I grew up with. What happens when all of that gets challenged?  

Spoilers: 

I graduated from high school June 2012. December 2012: my parents took my sister and I to see the musical movie of Les Mis. I was unsure: I was aware of the song, “I Dreamed a Dream”. I did not know if I wanted to see it or not, but went anyway. After Fantine died, I realized something: LES MIS IS A TRAGEDY: I was like “this is a tragedy, musicals aren’t supposed to be tragic”. I was shocked and confused- I did not know to respond. I had a hard time watching the rest of the movie. By the end, I did not know what to think of it- I did not know if I was a fan of Les Mis or not- but I did have “Do You Hear the People Sing” stuck in my head. I started researching it anyway.  I called it TOO DEPRESSING- so rough start. It was the introduction of tragic musicals and heartbreak. 

I don’t know why; but something told me I had to give the movie a 2nd chance. March 2013- I watched the movie a 2nd time, and this time knowing it was going to be tragic, I was able to calm down and saw so much more. I was able to focus more on the plot and characters. I was able to connect better. I knew there was something special and uplifting about Les Mis- I became a true fan of Les Mis that day. By summer 2013, I was obsessed. Now, I can’t imagine my life without Les Mis. In high school, I believed I would never a tragedy- but Les Mis proved me wrong. Les Mis went against everything I thought a musical was. Usually in a musical, I have a favorite song and character, but in Les Mis I can’t choose. So this musical turned that love into a passion. Now every year, I hope to catch at least one musical. 

So Les Mis and Wicked were the key musicals for me to become the musical theatre fanatic that I am today. That is a huge reason why they are my top two favorite musicals. The meaningful musicals stay in your heart and soul- the characters live in you- even if they DIE in the musical. I once thought a death could never be memorable- turns out I was wrong. Many characters in musicals stand up for what they believe in. 

Newsies has a quote that made me realize it was meaningful- “Courage cannot erase our fear. Courage is when we face our fear”. Two weeks after seeing it in 2016, I listened to “Seize the Day”, and the moment I heard those words, I realized it was a meaningful musical. I fell in love with it the day I saw the show- through the bond the Newsies share, their passion for the cause, the mind-blowing dance, and the energetic and at times emotional score. 

Lion King is such a spectacle to watch filled with memorable characters. They are easy not to forget. The way they create the animals is incredible. The special effects is incredible. The first scene is breathtaking- if the first scene can grab you- that is always a good sign. 

Theatre has a way to escape. You escape into the world of the characters. You live in their worlds. You no longer are in yours. You are in theirs. If it is a musical you love, you feel like a character in the show itself. Theatre itself has many life lessons. Standing up for what you believe in, there is hope in the midst of tragedy, stay true to who you are, the importance of friendship, and so on. So, there is a lot of power in theatre. Musical Theatre- it tells a story and then has incredible characters, but when you add songs on top of that, it makes is easier to emotionally connect to them. You feel like you are living their lives. It is so magical and such a delight to watch in so many ways. Musical Theatre actors and actresses have so much talent- being able to memorize all their lines and on top of that all the blocking and choreography and doing that 8 times a week is incredible- it is much harder than it looks. Theatre has had a huge impact on me- the musicals I love the most are meaningful to me- some of the meaning is quite obvious and some isn’t. 

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October in Review

This is a little late. I am going to do my October in review.

My most exciting thing I did in October was a mountain trip to Sugar Mountain, which is near Boone, Banner Elk, and Blowing Rock.

We ended up hiking the trails of the Viaduct and Linville Falls.

The Viaduct was more complicated because it had a ton of mud and full of slippery rocks. So it was very easy to slip and fall, which I did twice. Below is a picture is a picture of the Viaduct. I love hiking because you are out in nature in the woods, and getting to the top is worth it due to the view. Don’t forget, our hike was a couple weeks after Hurricane Florence- so that was why there was all of the mud. The mud I saw was great inspiration for the mud found in Graysloup in my book- the less deep mud was closer to what is part of the main part of Graysloup while the thicker mud spots reminded me for “The Bog”- so it was great inspiration.

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Linville Falls- it was not as dangerous hiking. It was hike with four different overviews. Three of them gave us a view of the waterfall. The first one gave us a few of the lower falls. The second one (I believe), gave us a view of the upper and lower falls. The next one we saw was known as the fourth overview just gave us view of a gorge. The third overview, which was the last one we looked at, gave us a view of everything.

 

Of course, October ended with Halloween. I wasn’t expecting to dress up. However, I ended up recycling my Rizzo jacket from Octoberfest from last year. By the way, Octoberfest at Gardner Webb is a Halloween festival for kids from the Boiling Springs and Shelby area. Each club picks a theme, and my club choose Grease: I was Rizzo. I kept the jacket- I borrowed the rest of the costume from a suite mate- thankfully with Halloween this year, I found a way to finish the costume. I used my black leggings and my mom’s black t-shirt and my Octoberfest pink Jacket from last year, which actually is a men’s hot pink button up t-shirt, which has Rizzo and Pink Ladies ironed on it.

Below is my costume from school, but is basically what I looked like this Halloween.

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Can’t wait to finish November- exciting things have already happened.

Fairy Frogs and Toads Interviews

Remember how recently I have been interviewing my Fairy Frogs and Toads. Now they are all finished. It was quite interesting to see where that went. It was a tiny scary and quite fun.

Fairy Frogs: 

Sparkle:

Aged 12. She is my main character in the book. She is the rebellious, stubborn, courageous, and adventurous Fairy Frog. Like all Fairy Frogs, she is deeply compassionate, but she goes above and beyond. Even when befriending Marge is basically against the rules, she still does not that rule stop her. This all started because of important the Graysloup drawing was to her. It seems based on the interview, she is so invested in her drawing due to discovering her craft at three. She started experimenting at age 6 much deeper when usually that step happens at 8.

Misty: 

Aged 12. She is Sparkle’s best friends. They became best friends when the Fairy Frogs and toads were still basically neighbors. It all happened when Misty still did have not a craft. She was so close to 6. Sparkle saw her struggling and went to comfort her. That is when their friendship truly began. Misty is so protective of Sparkle, which is why she is not as invested in her singing as she could be. She is not able to find the time to write her music.

Aires: 

Aged in his 30s. His is the Fairy Frogs leader, head carpenter, and uncle of Darcy. He created the rule against the toads in the first place: never enter Graysloup or interact with them. He just assumed all the toads were rude and disrespectful all because of Sarge. He is always worried about Sparkle- she has gotten in trouble by him a number of times. He doubts himself at times so sometimes has to get advice by his nephew.

Darcy: 

Aged 15. He is the nephew of Darcy. He is a sculpture Fairy Frog. He gives his uncle advice at times. His best friend is Felipe, and they met when they still were in the middle of discovering crafts.

Felipe

Aged 14. He is Darcy’s best friend. His craft is in woodcarving. Sometimes he makes a small woodcarving thing for Darcy to use for one of his sculptures.

Celeste

Aged 8. She is a potter frog. She is at a very exciting stage in her craft. She really gets to experiment with pottery. All she knows how to do is make pots. She gets to play around with adding little designs and what the shape of the pot is.

Tweetsie 

Aged 5. She is the most energetic character in the book. She does not yet have a craft. She is a bit of a later bloomer like Misty- discovering her craft a bit late. She is like- how can so many other Fairy Frogs discover it mostly at age 4. She really wants to discover it eventually.

 

Toads:

Sarge

Aged 17. He is my antagonist. Oh, boy, his backstory is heartbreaking. His mother left him at age 3 or 5- he doesn’t want to reveal what age. Then all he has left is his cruel father, who constantly mistreats him. His only place of escape is found in “The Bog”, the only place his father could not find him. Then at age 13, his father left him. So he had no good role models growing. So at the age of maybe 15 or 16 or 17 (I don’t know the age), he had to become the leader of the toads without knowing how. He got jealous of his cousin, Marge, who was raised by a loving father. He grow up with feelings of pain, anger, jealously and confusion. He was confused- he was like “how is it that my father and Marge’s father were raised by the same parents, but yet only one turned out loving and the other not so much”. He never knew love. Even at 17, he still has nightmares about what his father did to him. His jealously built up after seeing the talent of his next door neighbors, the Fairy Frogs. He ended up putting his pain on others- Marge was an easy target especially- but they are related- they are COUSINS.

 

Marge

Aged 12. I have a soft spot for Marge. She said it was about when she was 8 or 9 when Sarge started mistreating her. She said she doesn’t know why she has the incredible wisdom she has. She think it all goes back to the pain Sarge put on her. Since she knows what it looks and feels like, she can see him doing it on the other toads and her next door neighbor. She decides to take a stand, and ends up talking to them, but each them she is mistreated by Sarge. Before the events in the story, she was misunderstood by the older toads. The pain that Sarge put on her made her feel like an outsider. All she wanted was for someone to show her compassion and to be her friend. She said she was a bit nervous and very excited when Sparkle befriended her. She was like, “but it isn’t it against the rules. However, it wasn’t going to stop Sparkle from being her friend, and she loved that about her.

Norg

Aged 19. He thinks he should have been leader, not Sarge in a way. He is older, by two years. He does not understand that. He has an interesting arc- he starts out as Sarge’s spy, but soon sides with the Fairy Frogs after Sarge just blows up on him. Norg begins to realize that Sarge is becoming more and more like his father. He notices a change that begins to happen to the toads and Graysloup once all the Fairy Frogs begin befriending all the toads.

 

Claude

Aged 15. He says that he only was rude and disrespectful because he was demanded to. He never wanted to, but he eventually stops. He does befriend Felipe and Darcy considering the fact they are around the same age. He does not understand Sarge’s actions one bit.

 

Effa/Rudy

Aged 10. I could have separated these two characters, but since they are twins put them together. They are the toads who start preventing Sarge from breaking up a friendship. They will not allow it. They are very close as sisters. They eventually befriend Celeste.

 

Character Interview #8

I don’t know how this interview is going to go.

What is your name: Claude

What is your age: 15

What do you feel about Sarge: Oh boy, Sarge, I don’t like how he treated me. I was only rude to those Fairy Frogs because he demanded me to. I never wanted to hurt them. It was never in my mind. So a day came when I stopped being rude and disrespectful towards them. That was the day when the Fairy Frogs began showing more compassion towards us. I met Darcy and Felipe that day. Those two frogs were around my age, and they became my friends. I never could understand Sarge- I mean why did he have to act the way he did? I never will understand.

A Interesting Church Service

This week’s church service was different. It started out as any church service. Then imagine when something out of the ordinary happened. Well at the end of the offertory at the end of the choir’s anthem, guess what happened, our church lost power. So now, no use of the organ. It was just awkward and unusual. I do not remember a single time at Holy Comforter when our power went off right before communion. That was unusual. It was like those times in theater when a mishap happens, and the show has to continue. One of the clergy said something like, well “that happened, let’s continue”. So we continued our church service in the dark. The moments where we had to sing was unusual- I was so used to the organ so when we sang the doxology and the whole “holy, holy, lord” moment of singing was odd. Even when we sang after the clergy broke the bread- so each time we had to sing- it felt kind of strange without the organ.

Good thing, I knew the songs we were singing when we actually were going up for communion- I knew “Let Us Break Bread Together” and “I Come With Joy to Meet the Lord”- at least in the dark I could read the lyrics. At the second song- well the music started playing again- piano was used.

So out of the ordinary things happen in life. We are not prepared for those things. Kind of like what happened in church. I had no idea why we lost power. It was different for sure. So for half the service, we had power and for the second half, we had no power. So sometimes we are not prepared for the out of ordinary things in life. They do happen- life is beautiful, but not easy at times. So the out of ordinary things is part of the beauty of life.

Going Back in Time-PreLesMis

A couple days ago, I said it is hard to imagine my life without Wicked. I said basically what musicals were like in that time frame. Now, Les Mis- WOW, pre Les Mis, musicals were way severally different.

Song nature- In the time, showtunes formed musicals. All the musicals I saw basically were home to showtunes. There were a few that were not showtunes. The showtune songs had the emotion of excitement attached to them. The songs that did not have this nature were the ones that were not exciting- those were either love songs or sad songs.

Core Emotions- In the time, there were four core emotions. I was aware of excitement, joy, love, and sad. Excitement and joy were the easiest to pick up on. Love was the second easiest to pick up on- songs like “As Long As You’re Mine” were love songs. To me, a love song was referring to a couple. I knew romance was very common for a musicals. I was aware of sad- it was in a small number of songs- but I knew it was common. I understand why sad songs had to exist- I knew it helped with complexity and believability. The emotion only stuck in two songs- “I’m Not That Girl” and “For Good”. I never combined two emotions together- for instance- “I’m Not That Girl” was not a sad love song- it was just a sad song, not a sad love song. I was aware of the concept of love triangle- I knew it meant it involved three people- as in two people were in love with the same person- I don’t think I grasped the fact that someone was not loved back- I think I was describing it as that person was not in a relationship with that person because someone else was.

Dance/Spectacle- Musicals to me had to have this no matter what. I was convinced all musicals were home to dance. That was all I seemed to know

Plot- I interpreted all musicals as happy and comical- YES I SAID THAT- I was around shows like Grease, Cats, Beauty and the Beast, Lion King, Wicked, and Mamma Mia- so why do you think I said that? I had interpreted all the musicals I saw as happy. So I said that must be true for ALL MUSICALS.

Emotional Connection- you have to have an emotional connection. I knew the importance of an emotional connection. They are the key to wanting to feel the emotions. They keep you focused on the show. The songs are the first step to having an emotional connection- if they don’t do it for you- an emotional connection will not exist.

All that was figured out due to Wicked. Les Mis would challenge it all.

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By seeing what musicals were like before Les Mis does help show the impact Les Mis had.

Church Anthem- Bristol

On Sunday (September 30th, 2018)- The anthem the choir sang happened to be one of the songs the choir sang at Bristol Cathedral. The reason why I was in Bristol 3 years ago was because the choir at Holy Comforter Episcopal Church, my family church, was in Residence at Bristol Cathedral. Both choir and parishioners were invited to attend. In total, the trip consisted of 72 pilgrims. In total, the choir sang for 6 evensongs and 1 Eucharist. The trip started in London, and that part lasted 2 and 1/2 days, and the rest, which lasted about a week happened in Bristol. The places we visited outside of Bristol occurred due to day trips and those places had something scared and spiritual about them. This post is dedicated mostly to the town of Bristol.

I remember the day we left London. I was nervous leaving London. I learned to love London during 4 and 1/2 days- yes, I said the pilgrims were there 2 and 1/2 days- my family were there for 2 extra days. I did not even know a thing about about Bristol. I did not know what it looked like. I did not know if I would like the town or the Cathedral itself. It was going to be the main part of the trip. I did not know how much the main part of the trip was going to affect me. It was chaotic leaving London- it took us longer to get to Bristol than originally intended, so we had a very late dinner. The first night- well, it was not a good day to learn to love Bristol- it was not a half day- it was just a night basically- pretty much dinner. The pilgrims would always enjoy breakfast together, and after that- meet up at the buses for our day trip to places like Bath or Berkeley Castle or something like that.

Our first full day in Bristol consisted of getting a tour of Bristol Cathedral. The walk from the hotel to Bristol Cathedral was not very far- I get used to that. I would always be on the hunt for a new Shaun the Sheep Statute. I did not think I would want to go to every single church service- but I did. As the week went by, I learned to love the town more and more. We could easily walk around from the hotel to the cathedral and from the hotel to places to shop to and from the cathedral to the pier. So it was a lovely town. Our last two days- we did not do trips anywhere- we stayed in Bristol the entire day. I remember at the final Evensong listening to the anthem, and I remember my reaction- I was crying to that anthem- in that reaction, I realized just how transforming the trip was. That anthem was when the choir was at their BEST!!!!!!!!!! While Bristol is not the big city like London, you still can love Bristol. This pilgrimage for me was going into the unknown- I did go into the unknown leaving London. Growing up, the only place in England I heard of was London- it wasn’t until I heard about the pilgrimage that I realized Bristol was a town. It was at a church called St. Mary Redcliffe, which is in Bristol, that I thought of this motto for the pilgrimage, which are lyrics from a song, “we are pilgrims are on the journey, we are travelers on the road, we are here to help each other, walk the mile and bear the load”. The best part of the pilgrimage was the fellowship- if it wasn’t for the fellowship- the pilgrimage would not not been as transforming nor would have the places we went to would have been as impactful.

Below is a picture of Shaun the Sheep- at the time Shaun the Sheeps were hidden to raise money for a children’s hospital.

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