Musicals of 2015

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(Could be spoilers)

During the course of this year, I saw four different musicals. I saw one at Gardner Webb University, two in Charlotte, and one in the West End. This entry will compare and contrast these four musicals, which includes what my experience was like. The musicals that I saw are shown in the picture in order of importance. From left to right, it builds up to the show that has the most meaning, which was the best show

The thing that is incredible about “Music Man”, “Pippin”, “Sound of Music” and “Les Misérables” is what they are capable of. Together they show a lot of which a musical can do. They all share some emotions, but some of the shows have more emotions than another. Combined, they have lots of comic and tragic elements especially because three are in the comedy world and one is in the tragedy world. Two of these musicals both have a connection to spirituality. In the rest of this post, I will talk about the similarities and differences more in detail.

The first musical of the year, “Music Man” was the most light-hearted out of all of them. It was the only one that had no darkness or tragic elements. It consists mostly of positive emotions and does not really have negative emotions. I saw this show at my college and it was my first experience with it. I was familiar with most of the songs and knew a little bit about the storyline, but never seen the movie or the stage show. Because I was required to go, I had to pay attention to one of the characters and see if I believed in the character. I picked the main character, Harlod Hill, for a reason and that is because I knew a couple of things about the character like that he is a con-man who promised to create a boy’s band and will eventually fall in love with Marian. My favorite song of the show ended up being “76 Trombones”. I ended up loving the show that I eventually bought the songs.In my opinion, the core of this musical is music, I think.

The next important show, “Pippin”, was the second show of the year. Every since I heard the song, “Corner of the Sky”, I knew that I had to see this musical. Than I saw a preview of the current production and I got convinced even more. I saw that it had a circus theme and that surprised me at first. I knew that musicals were capable of spectacle, but I thought circus would never be an option. Than after I found out that Stephen Schwartz wrote the music, I got even more excited. I already had fallen in love with “Godspell” and “Wicked” and he wrote the music for those two as well and “Wicked” is the best of those two. I knew that Pippin was about a prince who was trying to figure out where he belong or his “Corner of the Sky”, which is what the song is about. This show was lucky because I almost did not get to go because when mom got the tickets, there was only two days left with seats together. This show was the first show I saw this year that had some sort of darkness. The leading player, the antagonist”, is a very dark and manipulative character because she is trying to lead Pippin in the wrong path meaning she was trying to get him to commit suicide and I thought that was not very nice. I had an understudy for the leading player and she was the true standout of the show.

The opening of “Pippin” was the best part. It started with an illusion because the leading player was behind a light brown curtain and as she walked it seemed as if the shadow was getting smaller and smaller and all of a sudden she appeared. Surprisingly, the Leading Player ended up being the narrator of the show. Right when the curtain dropped, I looked at the scene in awe and wonder. It truly showed how incredible this show was going to be. It really looked like I was in the circus because I saw several elements of circus such as trapeze and juggling. That whole opening scene was during the song, “Magic to Do”. This song broke the forth wall because at one point, some actors went off the stage. There was another time where I felt the forth wall was broken. During the song, “No Time At All”, Pippin’s grandma asked the audience to sing along to the chorus and they put the lyrics up and that was the first time I went to a musical which allowed that. Pippin entered the show by jumping through a hoop. During another song, “Simple Joys”, I saw people flipping over balls and during “With You”, there was an incredible balancing act. At the end, the musical ended up being at the edge of spectacular and right after the first act, I ended up buying the CD because I loved it so much already. It was worth it seeing Pippin. Pippin is the kind of show which has things that are usually associated with musicals. It is a dark comedy filled with dance, spectacle, and fun costumes. The core of this musical is discovery.

The third most important show, “Sound of Music”, was the last musical of the year. This musical has been part of my life since elementary school. I knew it was coming to Charlotte, but thought I would not see it because of Gardner Webb, but luckily it came over Thanksgiving Break. This was the third happy musical I saw this year.  I ended up crying during “Edelweiss”, which was unexpected. That song was my first piano recital song and I noticed that that song has a little bit of sadness in it. The darkness of this show feels like it is much more in the background, but during that scene, it was more foreground. I saw how upset the Captain looked after noticing that Austria was being taken over by the Nazis. The cast was incredible in this especially the Von Trapp children, Maria, Captain, and Mother Abbess. The transition from scene to scene happened so smoothly. By the end of the show, I left feeling hope because the Von Trapps were able to escape despite loving their country.

The most important and best show also had an inspirational world. That show would be “Les Mis”. I was not just seeing a production of that musical. I was seeing the West End production, which is the current production in London. It has been there since 1985 and has never left. Ever since I became obsessed with this musical, I wanted to see the show in London so badly. When I found out, I was speechless and in tears.

This musical gave me the most joy despite it being the darkest and saddest musical. But out of all them, this was the most powerful and covered with the most emotions. The moment the lights went off and the music began, I realized it was more than I originally thought despite already watching the movie several times, the stage show three times, and the 25th anniversary concert a couple of times. The show was truly brought to life through the use of the fog and the revolving stage. I had an understudy for Valjean and he was brilliant. I loved the rest of the cast as well. I felt so more emotions than I ever did with the show. Some of the emotions that I knew were in there were stronger in this production. That included some of the more inner emotions such as compassion, hope, and forgiveness. Sad was also stronger because of the power of theatre and because of my excitement of seeing the show in London.  Despite being a tragedy, it is still a story of sacrifice, humanity, hope, faith, love, compassion, forgiveness, and redemption. After the first act, I was speechless and the same thing happened after the second act. The West End production was Epic and had a brilliant cast because the emotions I felt were spot on. This show has at least ten emotions and for sure has more. I felt exciting, uplifting, funny, joy, love, passion, compassion, hope, forgiveness, anger, fear, guilt, sad, desperation, heartbreak, loneliness, devastation, and uncomfortable, and I knew I felt others, but do not know what they are.

After the show ended, I went to the stage door and met the actor who played Valjean. I ended up getting my picture taken with him and he signed my playbill. “I dreamed a dream” that night and felt fortunate to see it this year because the show was in the middle of its 30th year in London.

Now for the similarities between the musicals. “Sound of Music” and “Les Mis” are the ones that have the spiritual connection. “Sound of Music” has the connection to the abbey and has a feeling of hope at the end. Les Mis shows a spiritual connection because of its themes. The spirituality truly started when the Bishop taught Valjean the ways of the Lord. For the rest of Valjean’s life, he was able to do what the bishop taught him. He was compassionate towards the poor especially towards Fantine and his adopted daughter, Cosette. He said a prayer on the barricades to save Marius because Marius loves his adopted daughter. By the end, Valjean becomes like a saint. One of the ending lines of the show is “to love another person is to see the face of God” and I left the show uplifted.

All four of these musicals have comic elements. The comic elements come naturally to all them in different ways. Les Mis uses comedy as comic relief because it is much needed because of how sad it is. Les Mis means “the miserable” and the negative emotions start once the action begins. All four of them consist of kids because “Music Man” has Winthrop , Pippin has Theo, Les Mis has young Cosette and Gavroche and “Sound of Music” has the Von Trapp children. They all share the emotions of exciting, joy, love, and funny. They all bring me great joy in their own unique ways.

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“Even the Darkest Night Will End and The Sun Will Rise”

Two days ago during the Christmas Eve service, I heard something that reminded me of these lyrics. These lyrics remind me of the phrase “those who have walked in darkness have seen a great light”, meaning that even at a dark time of your life, you will always have hope if you walk with Christ. It says that even in the darkest of times, you will be able to move past it and allows you stay strong no matter what. These lyrics are from the finale of Les Mis during the second version of “Do You Hear the People Sing”. While Les Mis is a tragedy, there are lots of lyrics that represent that the show has hope in it. Hope is a very inner emotion of the show, which takes time to find.

We live in a broken world, but if we hope for a better future, we may be able to fix it. The more love and compassion we show, the more fixed this world will become. Hate cannot drive out hate because only love can do that. Violence cannot drive out violence because only kindness can do that.

Christmas Day

I loved yesterday’s Christmas Eve Service. The prelude was extremely beautiful and it made me cry. It was filled with violins and a trumpet, which makes the 10:45 night service very special. All night, we sang wonderful songs. The best part of this service was during “Silent Night”. The lights go off and the candles are lit.

Today is Christmas Day, the celebration of Jesus’ birth. He is the Messiah and he saved us from our sins. He is a very important part of Christian history. If we walk with Christ, we will have a very spiritual journey. He helps us with difficult times and can redeem us.

This year for Christmas, I enjoyed opening my presents. I ended up getting a Sancho Panza and Don Quixote statue along with the book, Don Quixote. There is something interesting about the character of Don Quixote. He is a tragic and comic character, which really interests me. I got a brand new purse. I also ended up getting an American Girl doll, Grace, who is the girl of the year of 2015. I also enjoyed all the different stocking stuffers.

Christmas Eve

It is hard to believe it is Christmas Eve already. I am looking forward to the late Christmas Eve service. It has the most beautiful music at the beginning. However, my favorite part is during “Silent Night”. During that song, the lights go off and the candles are lit and it is such a wonderful moment. I love when the service ends, it is already Christmas. Christmas is about the birth of Christ and this service truly celebrates that.

White Christmas

Last night was my first time watching the movie musical, “White Christmas”. It was a wonderful movie complete with good songs and an amazing plot. The movie was a wonderful way to get into the Christmas spirit. I loved the way the movie honored the main character’s general towards the end. But the best scene was when the song “White Christmas” was sung a second time and a real white Christmas was revealed.It was another happy musical and I am never surprised if a new musical is happy. From my experience, most musicals are happy and I am glad about that.

 

“I Dreamed a Dream”

(Major/Minor Spoilers)

This summer was a year like no other. I got the opportunity to see Les Mis in the West End. I had a dream of seeing it in London ever since I became obsessed with the musical. It changed my perspective on musical theatre. It changed how I viewed the different emotions because I felt emotions that I had never felt before and it also strengthened previous emotions. Before Les Mis, I believed I would hate tragedies and that was a big mistake. Because Les Mis is a tragedy, I learned from the past.

Even though Les Mis is a tragedy, it is so much more than that. Some people do not seem to understand why I love it because the title means “the miserable”. The show has an experience that is very different from other musicals because the musical is an extremely powerful emotionally moving musical.

When I saw the show in the West End, it was the best experience I ever had with the musical. The moment the lights went out and the music began, I knew it was more than I originally excepted. The first couple of notes were just so powerful. Because the show is sung-through, the orchestra has to be incredible. The current Les Mis cast is absolutely brilliant and when I saw it, I had an understudy for Valjean. His name was Adam Bayjou.

Adam played a wonderful Valjean. During the prologue, I could hear the anger of Valjean and I could see his transformation through the kindness of the bishop. After Valjean was released, my tears started and I excepted them to start later, but glad they started when they did. I could see Valjean’s compassion toward the poor especially towards Fantine and his adopted daughter.

Jeremy Secomb played Javert, the antagonist of the storyline. For the longest time, I did not feel for this character at all. I did not even care that he died. But I finally saw Javert when Jeremy played him. He was the most effective during the suicide scene. Before he started singing, I could already sense the suffering of Javert. Even though I do not like Javert, I am glad that I finally cared.

Rachelle Ann Go played the tragic heroine, Fantine. I truly saw Fantine from beginning to end. My heart was breaking for this character. From the moment the character sang, I was truly feeling the desperation of the character. “I Dreamed a Dream” was heart-renching and so was her death. She had just gotten the part only a month before I saw the show in London. Out of all of the characters, I feel the worst for Fantine.”I Dreamed a Dream” had a little bit of hope in it. Once it got to “Lovely Ladies”, Fantine sounded much more desperate and that is the hardest scene to watch. I am not a big fan of the scene because it makes me feel uncomfortable, but I tolerate it because I understand why it is there. My heart continued to break during Fantine’s death scene. I could feel how broken Fantine was and I could feel Valjean’s compassion by saying he will care for her daughter.

The two actors who played the Thenardiers’ were hilarious. I laughed during “Master of the House” and by this point, the audience deserves a good laugh. Besides being funny, I could also sense their greedy, abusive, cruel side. I first saw their evil nature in how they treated Cosette. But after Cosette was rescued by Valjean, they started being abusive towards their own daughter.

Carrie Hope Fletcher played the heartbroken Eponine. Eponine is the daughter of the Thenardier’. After Cosette was rescued by Valjean, her family fell into extreme poverty and they started to use their abuse on Eponine. I could feel Eponine’s unrequited love towards Marius. Every time I heard her sing, the words were very heartbreaking to me. During “On my Own”, I felt a new emotion in Eponine, which was anger. It is fun discovering new emotions of characters you already have gotten to know. I find it sad that Eponine did not get happiness until “A Little Fall of Rain”, which is her death scene. At the beginning of that song, I believed that Eponine was dying from being shot and I knew something was wrong after I heard the gunshot because I looked up and the nonverbal I saw made me know something was wrong. The thing I love the most about this scene is that Marius stayed with her and that she got to die in the arms of the man she loves. Rob Houchen played Marius and in this scene, he truly was compassionate towards her and offered her comfort. I truly saw how devastated he was after she died and how much Eponine meant to him.

Enjorlas and the students truly were brilliant. Each time they sang, I felt their passion towards the uprising. Every song that they sang had an epic and uplifting quality. But I felt hopeless during “Drink With Me”. They knew the uprising will fail after Eponine died. They realized they were outnumbered. Even though they felt hopeless, they still stayed passionate even in the final battle.

The set truly made the show come to life. It was very 3d, which made it feel like you are part of the action. The set was very gray and bleak, which represented the time period. The revolving stage helped with time change. You would be watching one scene and all of a sudden the stage turned and another scene was going on. I loved this technique during the uprising. When Gavroche climbed over the barricades, they turned the stage and seeing Gavroche getting shot saddened me. There is something special about live theatre that makes emotions more real. After the uprising ended, they turned the stage and shown a light on Enjorlas, which saddened me as well. The fog helped scenes come to life as well. This production had a lot of fog starting with the opening scene.

When the show ended, I was completely speechless. Usually when I see a show, I do not stand up right away, but for this I did. It was more than I thought. Some emotions I always knew were in the show were stronger. Those emotions that became stronger were compassion, hope, and forgiveness. Sadness was also stronger because I felt it more than I used to. I felt the emotions of uplifting, exciting, joy, love, funny, compassion, passion, hope, anger, guilt, hopeless, sad, desperation, devastation, depressing, heartbreak, loneliness, uncomfortable and I know I felt more than that.

After the show ended, I went to the stage door and met the actor who played Valjean. He signed my playbill and I had my picture taken with him. I truly “dreamed a dream” that night. I was lucky that I was only nine rows back from the stage. It added to the experience and it made me feel closer to the action. I have no words to describe how much Les Mis means to me. Once again it may be depressing, but is also uplifting. Because “Do You Hear the People Sing” is the anthem of the show, it shows that Les Mis is uplifting.

“To Love Another Person is To See the Face of God”

“Bah, Humbug”

This is what Scrooge likes to call Christmas. He says that Christmas is a humbug, meaning that the holiday is pointless.

The movie, “A Christmas Carol”, is a wonderful movie about this bitter and angry man who only cares about money. He does not pay Mr. Crathcit  much money at all. Mr. Cratchit has a crippled little boy named Tim and the family cannot afford much. Mr. Scrooge does not understand the full meaning of Christmas.

When he finally is home on Christmas Eve, he is haunted by Marley’s ghost, who warns him of what is going to happen throughout the night. Mr. Scrooge learns that he is to visited by three spirits because Mr.Scrooge needs to turn his life around. He does not quite understand why he has to be visited by these spirits. The first spirt is to come at 1:00, the second at 2:00 and the last will come when he pleases.

The first spirit is the ghost of Christmas past. He takes Scrooge back to the time when he was just a boy. Mr. Scrooge remembers that he did not have a very good childhood. He was abandoned by his father at a young age. Eventually when he was older, his sister comes to pick him up because his father wants him to come home. But his father only wants him to stay for three days. His father has set him up with a job. Through this job, Scrooge has fallen in love with Belle, but he created a greed for money at such a young age, which has made Belle leave him. Through the ghost of Christmas Past, Scrooge learns of what has made him the person that he has become.

The second spirit is the ghost of Christmas present. He sees the Cratchit family celebrating Christmas. When Scrooge sees that they eating a small goose, Scrooge becomes saddened because it was all they could afford. When he learns that tiny Tim will die if the future is not altered and Scrooge is upset by the news. The ghost also takes Scrooge to his nephew’s house to show them celebrating Christmas. Some of them seem happy that Scrooge did not come. The last image that Scrooge sees saddens him the most. He sees the homeless celebrating Christmas and sees that even though they did not get much, they still celebrated Christmas as family. The spirit shows him that ignorance and want are Scrooge’s family. This spirit leaves him and Scrooge does not want to be where he currently is.

The last spirit is the ghost of Christmas future. This is the ghost that made Scrooge the most upset. He sees people celebrating the death of a certain individual and robs from this person and Scrooge cannot believe he is hearing and seeing all of this. He wishes to know who this dead man was. But first, this dark spirit takes him to the Cratchit’s house. Scrooge is saddened to see that tiny Tim has died. But the family still manages to remain faithful and hopeful despite the death. He asks the spirit if what he has seen will be able to be altered, but this spirit never talks. When Scrooge learns that the man everyone was talking about was him, Scrooge cannot believe people who glad that he died.

When Mr. Scrooge finally arrives back in his bedroom, he finally gets redeemed. He says he will keep the ghosts of the past, present, and future in his heart. When he learns that it is Christmas by a boy, he tells the boy to buy the biggest turkey. Scrooge decides to give it to the Cratchits, which gives the family the best Christmas they ever had. He also donated a large sum of money to the poor. He also agreed to his nephew, Fred, to  come to his Christmas dinner. He finally has learned what Christmas is about. That same day, he doubled Mr. Cratchit’s salary and Mr. Cratchit is surprised by this. Mr. Scrooge agrees to help the family in any way he can in order to provide for tiny Tim.

As it turns out Tim did not die. He finally was able to fully walk again and was cured of his illness. Mr. Scrooge became like a second father to Tim. This movie truly teaches about the meaning of Christmas. If it wasn’t for the spirits, Scrooge would not have been to change from a miserable, bitter man to a caring man. “God bless us everyone”