My love for Charles Dickens

One of my favorite authors is Charles Dickens. My favorite book of his is “A Christmas Carol”. I was raised on the George C. Scott movie- that became a family tradition to watch the movie during the Holidays.

The vast majority of the classics I read are Charles Dickens. The ones below are David Copperfield, Oliver Twist, Hard Times, Nicholas Nickleby, Tale of Two Cities and Bleak House. I read all of them, but two- Hard Times and Bleak House (which I recently started).

Both Dickens and Hugo are so similar in their writings, but so different: both of them were authors of Romanticism, focused on the lowest rungs of society (from orphans to the poor to prostitutes to convicts- as examples). In addition, they wrote off of things they actually witnessed allowing their books to feel well “real”.

Let me talk about the Charles Dickens books I love:

A Christmas Carol

Obviously, this is my favorite Dickens story. Part had to do with the story being connected to my childhood. Crazily enough, I found a parallel between Sarge and Scrooge: the funny thing about that is that one is a protagonist and the other an antagonist. Sarge is the antagonist of Tale of The Cattail Forest- who is a bully because of his abusive and tragic past.

What I love about Christmas Carol are the characters- from Scrooge to Tiny Tiny to the entire Cratchit family to Fred, etc. There are just so many to fall in love with. What I do love is that it ultimately shows the spirit of Christmas. It all started on Christmas Eve when Scrooge was visited by three spirits: Ghost of Christmas Past, Ghost of Christmas Present, and Ghost of Future Christmas. Through this, Scrooge learns why he became the way he is, the spirit of Christmas through the present ghost and what will happen if he doesn’t change his ways. There are just a lot of amazing things about this story.

Tale of Two Cities/Great Expectations/David Copperfield

I put these together because I could not figure out why I loved these books.

Tale of Two Cities

Tale of Two Cities takes place in London and Paris during the French Revolution. It is very easy to get mixed up with what city you are in. It even is difficult to figure out the plot. I almost feel as if I need to read this book again.

Great Expectations

As far as Great Expectations goes, I can say one reason why I loved it. I loved Pip, the protagonist. I really don’t know why: part might be because we are introduced to Pip as a child- and eventually as a young adult. I found lots of articles that say Pip is annoying, but in my eyes I don’t see him that way.

David Copperfield

David Copperfield is actually Charles’ Dickens favorite book he wrote. I don’t know why I loved this book.

As for as ALL three of these books go- sometimes you just know when you read a good book even if you don’t know why.

Oliver Twist

I first came across Oliver Twist by the musical. I first saw Oliver in Summer of 2007 at the Bartor Theater in Abingdon, VA. The annoying thing is that I have no memory of seeing it.

So, I eventually decided to read the book. I literally was grabbed by three pages. Oliver is such an incredible protagonist- he is so good and sweet that no one has the capability to corrupt him. You strongly saw that happen when Fagin and Bill Likes were trying to turn him into a pickpocket. At first I didn’t know what to think of Nancy, but loved her at the end of her story- I fell in love with this character even more once I finally watched the musical movie. Weird how just an incredible book can start with a few words: “Please Sir, I Want some More”. All it took was for Oliver to say those few words that lead into such an incredible plot.

Nicholas Nickleby

Now, this is a book I strongly can say why I loved it. For one thing, you have an incredible protagonist: he is extremely compassionate and does have his flaws. Like usual the best characters tend to be flawed: Nicholas does have a temper- you mostly saw this unfold when he was trying to defend someone from being hurt. His relationship to Smike is incredible- Smike, despite being mistreated and abused, has a strong spirit. The moment Nicholas leaves the school, Smike literally follows. Smike asks Nicholas something around the lines of “wherever you go, I will”. From that moment on, you see this incredible friendship form: such an intimate and special bond. Nicholas is always with Smike- no matter what.

Originally I did not know what to think of Kate Nickleby. However, when I saw the RSC do a 9hr production of the story, I learned to like her. Don’t worry: I wasn’t watching the stage show for 9hrs in a row. It is split into four movies- so I watched one a day.

Along with Kate, there are a number of good guys- just right now, can’t think of the names.

There are a LOT of villains in this book: Ralph Nickleby, Squeers- and so on. For whatever reason, Ralph is always hating his nephew. For what- nothing made sense. I really loved Nicholas so why would his uncle hate him?

Bleak House

This is the main exception to those I love. Bleak House is the Dickens book I recently started. So, I have not formed an opinion on the story yet. I actually was surprised to learn that this story is more well-known than it appears. Bleak House centers on Esther. One of things I love about this book is the list of characters I saw in the front of the book. I already discovered that this book has two narrators: Esther and an unknown narrator. So far, the plot hasn’t exactly kicked off.

Character Names

Well, why do I mention this? Well, Charles Dickens really knows how to create amazing names of characters. From Oliver Twist to Artful Dodger to Nancy to Fagin to Bill Sikes to Smike to Nicholas Nickleby to Kate Nickleby to Scrooge to Tiny Tim to Esther to Ada to Pip to David Copperfield- that list continues. There is just something about the character names that make you remember them- including who they are.

Is Fall Coming too Early?

North Carolina can be a pretty strange state. Its weather doesn’t line up to the seasons very well. This year, there was a tornado, earthquake, the pandemic, and the aftermath rain of a hurricane. Here’s what my question is: is Fall coming too early?

One of the main things I think about when it comes to Fall is Pumpkin. I recently found that Starbuck’s Pumpkin Spice Latte is coming back August 25th. August- that is still in Summer so why coming back so early. I only get that drink in Fall- not in Summer. Summer is meant for iced coffee, not anything Pumpkin.

I usually get the Pumpkin Spice Latte, but only in Fall. My mom recently told me that some of the Pumpkin food is back at grocery stores. Seriously, its like Fall is coming earlier than we think. Just like over the Holidays, a Peppermint Mocha exists- you always can get that at Starbucks, but this one has the chocolate shavings. I am hoping that by the time the Peppermint Mocha comes, that we can case our reusable cups. What Starbucks does is once they announce the Peppermint Mocha, if you arrive early enough, you get a free Holiday reusable mug. So both the Pumpkin Spice Latte and Peppermint Mocha have to arrive at the right time.

The Fletcher Days

It is just hard to believe that 15 years ago, I would start being a student at Fletcher. I went to that school for both middle school and high school. Its school colors are teal and black and its mascot is a falcon. While Gardner Webb means a lot more to me, Fletcher also is important. All throughout Fletcher, I had some incredible friends and teachers. Some of the things people associate with Middle School and High School did not exist at Fletcher. The whole peer pressuring, bullying, popularity, and the several electives did not happen here. So when people talk about high school, I do get a bit confused. What are some of my Fletcher memories?

Middle School

Like any school, there were fall festivals, field trips, athletics, and clubs. We were still having class in modules during Middle School. I remember going bowling and the overnight trips. I was part of a volunteer club- that would continue into high school. With Fletcher, you stay in the same classes all year long. It was middle school where I had to develop a world of my own along with a business. I literally called my word “Teragramville”- which is basically my first name spelled backwards. With the business, it was Puppy Paradise, which was basically a spa for dogs.

High School

While I was in modules in middle school, Fletcher decided to update. We went from modules to having wings attached to the main building. Eventually at some point, there was an actual gym. All four years of high school, I attended prom: most high schools only would allow 11th and 12th graders to attend prom, but due to the size of Fletcher, all of high school were allowed. Just like middle school, spirit days, overnight trips, Fell Festival, and clubs.

9th Grade:

Required reading was one of the worst things about high school. Each year, the required summer book was a book I didn’t even like- 9th grade was either “Lord of the Flies” or “Of Mice and Men”. However, we also had to read an 2nd book, but that book was something we choose to read. 9th grade was when I became a member of Beta Club. Like middle school, overnight trips, Fall Festival (this time I was a volunteer), spirit days, and clubs. We did not have much flexibility when it comes to the classes we choose from. There were still required classes: Spanish was the only language offered- at first I really did not want to take Spanish, but fell in love with the language right away. There were other things I did not want to be around: Shakespeare, tragedy, and sociology/psychology. I was close-minded to all of those. Even when I didn’t know a book was sad, I still did not like the book. In 9th grade, I developed a main goal: to stay in Beta Club. In addition, my motto for high school became “Believe”- that was really helpful at Finals.

What were of some of the book projects I loved? A small book of Romeo and Juliet was the main one I remember.

10th Grade

I loved part of my 10th grade literature class. This was the year where we studied mythology, a genre I love. Illiad and Odyssey were read, and for a book project- we had to dress up as a god or goddess. I was Aphrodite. This was the only year I found myself liking a Shakespare play: We read a comedy this time around: Taming of the Shrew.

11th Grade

This was really when I could start choosing classes. I could choose to stop taking Spanish or continuing. Since I already fell in love with the language, I decided to continue. Our required summer book was “The Great Gatsby”- I think we had a party celebrating the 1920s, the time period the book takes place in. 11th grade was when I started touring colleges, and the moment when I first toured GWU, I knew for a fact that I was supposed to be at GWU for University.

12th Grade

This was one of the best years. Our required reading over the summer was Frankenstein, which I did not like. However loved the project that came with it: designing our own monster.

Due to being a Senior, we had some privileges that the other grades in high school could not. On Fridays, we were allowed to leave Campus for lunch. In addition, we could be exempt from Finals. 12th graders also gets to plan Senior Prank. Senior Pranks happened every year, but it was the 12th graders, who choose what to do. I still was in Spanish- I had the nickname of Margarita in Spanish- Margarita is my name in Spanish. Spanish IV was lot more self-teaching then the teacher. I remember that in Spanish (don’t know what grade it was), but we did celebrate Day of the Dead. One of these years, I made my Spanish teacher a Monkey at Build-a-Bear, and dressed it in Hispanic Clothes naming it Felipe. I wonder if that was where my Fairy Frog, Felipe, came from. I did take art this semester, and it was the only year prom happened on Campus. I was part of the yearbook team making my favorite Fletcher yearbook to be my 12th grade one. I did love the book, “And Then There Was None”.

Spirit Days

One of them was dressing up as a book character- that happened in 12th grade. I decided to be Hermione. Even dressing up a goddess in 10th grade felt like a spirit day- it was only for 10th grade. Literature in 10th grade was World Literature- mythology was one of the units.

Conclusion

Fletcher really did prepare me for college. My English Teacher, who I had for 9th grade and 10th grade did me one of my biggest pieces of advice: just write, don’t think about.

Some people will look at some of this, but think that the things I was close-minded to would become loved later on in life. I think the oddest thing I was close-minded to was Sociology and Psychology because I already had the interest. After all, I became a Sociology Major and minored in Spanish Cultural Studies, and developed an obsession for Les Mis (which is a tragedy). Falling in love with Les Mis really made me learn things the hard way- I really thought I knew the full intensity of emotions of musicals and really thought that death scenes would never be memorable or that tragedies can go beyond their tragic nature. One musical proved me wrong in multiple ways.

I defiantly was a lot more close-minded, naive, and innocent at Fletcher. If you think about it, I started Fletcher in 6th grade. After Fletcher, I started going to Central Piedmont Community College- even though I honestly did not want to be there. I really wanted to be at Gardner Webb, but there were still CPCC highlights.

UK Transfer I Hope For

Yes, while I live in the United States, I feel like certain musicals should transfer to the UK. There is one in particular I am actually surprised hasn’t even transferred. We all are around Disney musicals- growing up to adults. So, my question is, why hasn’t Newsies transferred?

For starters, Newsies may be underrated, but still successful. It won a Tony for best choreography. I know that the musical was on tour for two years and on Broadway for two years. I know of the success of this musical: not only has it been on Broadway and on Tour, it also was played at schools, local, and regional theater. I feel like this musical would be perfect in the West End. Look how many Disney musicals were in the West End, but Newsies never was.

Well, I think having Newsies in The West End will be extremely good for actors. Newsies is actually about the Newsboy Strike of 1899. There is a reason why I said actors: Newsies is heavily male-based: so that would be a great opportunity for actors. An actress would be extremely lucky if they end up in this musical especially if they end up as Katherine Plumber. Newsies was not successful at the box office in the movie of 1992, but it became a cult classic, which led to the stage show of Newsies.

Even though I have only been to the West End once, I know the talent is there. I did not see a dance-heavy musical: I saw Les Mis. However, still know that just like the US, there are triple threats: right now specifically referring to males. The dancing is mind-blowing. The musical really has improved since the movie. To me, adding Katherine is giving a male-based musical a strong female voice along with a better love interest for Jack Kelly. Jack Kelly, in my opinion, is more complex in the stage show. My favorite Jack Kelly is Joey Barreiro- who was my first Jack.

Going back to Newsies

Newsies is the newest Disney musical I fell in love with. It all began August 2016 when I saw the stage show of Newsies at Belk Theater. Joey Barreiro was Jack Kelly, and to this day he still remains my favorite. Well, I saw both the stage show and the 1992 film. I recently revisited the 1992 film. So, what do I prefer over the two.

While I can enjoy the 1992 film, I don’t love it in the way I love the stage show. For starters, I feel like the characters are stronger in the stage show: for example, Jack is a lot more complex in the stage show. In the stage show, Jack Kelly and Crutchie are best friends- their bond is so special. With the addition of Katherine, she is able to give a strong female voice in a cast full of males. Katherine is a strong character- it is hard to say why, but she not only is an incredible reporter, but also a stronger love interest for Jack.

The songs: well, just like the movie, “Seize the Day”, “Carrying the Banner”, “The World Will Know”, “Santa Fe”, and “Once and For All” are in the stage show. However all of these songs are so much better in the stage show. The lyrics are stronger and the melody is better. “Santa Fe” is one instance where you know Jack is a more developed character- it is a sad song in the stage show- after you see Jack watching all of his brothers get hurt and Crutchie getting arrested before “Santa Fe”. You start to see how much he cares about his brothers- he is literally willing to call off of the strike just to keep them safe. “Santa Fe (Prologue)” is more hopeful: it is a duet between Crutchie and Jack Kelly: it actually opens up the musical.

With the addition of Katherine, you see new songs like “Watch What Happens” and “Something to Believe in”. Ever since the US Tour, “Letter from the Refuge” is in all productions: it actually is a solo for Crutchie- further seeing just how optimistic he is. Pulitizer now has some songs of his own- “Bottom Line”.

I even feel like the dance is even more mind-blowing in the stage show. It actually has a Tony Award for Best Choreography. I might be slightly biased on the stage show being better than the 1992 movie because the stage show was my first experience with Newsies.

What you think? What is better- the stage show of Newsies or the 1992 movie?