Realization of Les Mis

It is hard to believe how much impact Les Mis has had on my life. It all started in December of 2012. My parents took me to see the movie. The only thing I knew about the musical was “I Dreamed A Dream”, but I had no idea what the title meant. The moment the first character died, I was shocked. I realized at that moment that Les Mis was in fact a tragedy. I thought a tragedy could never exist in the world of musicals. I was so in shock at that moment and that emotion showed up throughout the rest of the show. At the end, I did not know if I enjoyed it or not. The next thing you know, I was digging deeper into the show and was interested in knowing more. I want to say I did enjoy it the first time despite all of the shock I faced.

After the second time I saw the movie, I was curious about why I always feel uplifted and inspired by the end of the show. I was able to realize that the musical is way more then tragedy. I was able to analyze the musical at such a deeper level. After the second viewing, I knew there was something special about Les Mis. I knew it had something to do with the incredible emotional impact due to brilliant songs. It has these themes of love, forgiveness, compassion, hope, humanity, sacrifice, and redemption, which is why the storyline is so inspirational. Before Les Mis, I thought tragedies were just plain sad and I just pushed the genre back due to that kind of thinking. Les Mis did teach me tragedies are way more then sad.

Les Mis changed musical theatre forever. It changed everything that I already knew. All of the emotions were transformed. It was like they were being reborn. There was already joy, excitement, love, and sad. All of those emotions became tested when Les Mis became an important part of my life. I never thought those emotions had more capability in them then I thought they did. Look at what sad did. That one truly was transformed and became deeper then ever before. It became even more powerful and even more layers began to exist. Whenever I listen or watch Les Mis either by movie, concert, stage show, or soundtrack, I am always reduced to tears. I am positively influenced by all of the emotions in Les Mis including the negative emotions.

Les Mis has characters that are so well crafted. Some of the characters have a wonderful arc. Jean Valjean, the protagonist, was able to became a compassionate, honest, and saintlike man despite being an ex-convict. He kept on always doing the right thing even if it could possibly risk his life. Javert, the antagonist, may seem like a villain, but in reality he really isn’t. He just sees the world in black and white and is too obsessive about capturing Valjean after breaking parole.

If you want to look at villains, then look at those abusive, greedy, and cruel Thenardiers. They are the characters you love to hate, but provide the much needed comic relief. You end up falling in love with Gavroche and Eponine, their children.

Eponine is such a loving, brave, and loyal teenager who has to live through poverty, abuse, and unrequited love. She will do anything for Marius even though he will never love her back. She risks her life several times for him. Fantine is also put through unfortunate circumstances, but she manages to thrive through showing unconditional love toward her daughter, Cosette.

As a child, Cosette is so strong due to all of the abuse she faced and once an adult, she is extremely protective and sheltered due to her adopted father, Valjean, being an ex-convict. She may seem somewhat boring, but she is quite curious. Marius is one of the student revolutionaries who is conflicted between his love for Cosette and his passion for what he believes in. He is capable of showing compassion and that is seen through how he treats Eponine. Enjolras and the students are so passionate about their uprising and stay passionate towards the end even when they feel hopeless knowing that they will lose. They want to make a change due to the weak government and they are so close towards each other.

I can’t even pick my favorite character or song from the musical. However, my favorite solo from the musical is “On My Own”. Thinking of Eponine, I love “A Little Fall of Rain”, which is one of the most touching songs and one of the best scenes at the barricades.The songs are so powerful, passionate, and inspiring. Some of the songs have epic quality such as “Look Down”. They truly show honest truth, insight, and vulnerability towards the characters. This show is filled with several emotions and it moves me each and every time.

Les Mis teaches many things. It teaches that you can raise above your background, that there is hope in the midst of darkness and inspires you to become a better person. Learning to play Les Mis on the piano gave me a bigger appreciation of the songs. Due to my love for the show, I was able to play with emotion and passion. Les Mis deserves to be the sensation that it is. It is quite unique and special. It is so inspiring even though it is heartbreaking. Les Mis truly taught me how to embrace the negative emotions in musicals. I was able to learn about musical emotions through the perspective of tragedy.

Realize

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Moving Up in Theatre

Tonight shall be quite exciting. Starting in 2013, I began to get more involved in theatre. Over the Fall, I signed up to be a usher at my community college. Coincidentally, the first show I ushered for was “Les Mis”.  I first saw the movie of “Les Mis” in December of 2012, but I became obsessed with the musical in 2013. So it was quite fitting that “Les Mis” was the first show I ushered for. I ushered twice for that show and later would usher at “Some Enchanted Evening”, which honors Rodgers and Hammerstein’s songs.  Starting in Fall of 2014, I decided to become an usher for Children’s Theatre. Now two years later, I am taking a different role in the theatre. Tonight, Gardner Webb is putting together a Greek Tragedy, Trojan Women. I am going to be selling tickets for all four days. I never thought I would be able to move up like that.

Importance of Sharing the Gospel

Yesterday, I attended my school’s student-led worship service. I learned the importance of sharing the Gospel through the sermon. Think about it: when was the last time you taught the Gospel? This is strongly important. There are several broken-hearted people out there who have not heard the story of the Gospel. People spend too much time focusing on themselves so they forget to spread the Gospel. We have an endless cycle of screwing up and repenting and never once do we spread the Gospel. The broken-hearted people who are good, but never heard the Gospel, will die, but never go to heaven. We need to stop making excuses for why we failed to do this. Some people live with a half-faith and live it just by going to church.

But the question is, how do we spread the Gospel? That is very challenging. We were called to spread the Gospel. We need to use our calling to help make a difference in other people’s lives. I know that my calling will help make a difference of those living in poverty and homelessness. I am hoping that the power of live theatre will transform them and help them find meaning in their life. I also am hoping it will help them get off the street. This calling will work out because I have faith that it will. I know this calling will not happen for several years from now.

Metaphor of Being Green

Today during my stage makeup class, I was applying green eye shadow for a practice round of the next project. While doing that, the green reminded me of the musical character, Elphaba. She was born green and understands what it is like to be different.

To me, green is a metaphor for being different. This is shown through the character of Elphaba. She is treated as an outcast because she was born green. She is also different because she was born with magical powers, but she has no idea how to control them. She constantly is getting misunderstood by others including her family. Her father hates her and blames her for the reason why her sister is disabled and why her mother is dead, but it wasn’t even her fault. Elphaba has a close bond with her sister, but in the second act, her sister completely betrays her.

She believes that once she starts Shiz, she will stop being discriminated against, but she finds out that even the students dislike her. She reluctantly rooms with Galinda (AKA Glinda). Glinda and Elphaba start out as enemies who loathe each other and they learned to accept each other’s differences and become the best of friends. It was at the school dance where Galinda is able to finally befriend Elphaba. From the dance on, the two girls become the best of friends. Every once in a while they find conflict, but they always make up. The first conflict happens when Elphaba and Glinda both fall in love with Fiyero. This creates a fascinating love triangle, which adds this wonderful texture to the storyline.

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Elphaba is way more then what society paints her out to be. She is so determined and smart. She cares about what is happening around her. She has this big heart and stands up for what she believes in. She wants to give equality to all despite how everyone treats her. The wizard uses her to his advantage and makes the public believe that she is wicked. She is an incredible wonderful women and she never lets society define who she really is. She constantly tries to save the lives of others.

So overall, I find green a metaphor for being different. I truly understand Elphaba because I personally relate to her. I am a big-hearted, smart, talkative, determined, and unique person. I believe in equality and staying true to myself. Let your green shine through and let others see you for who you really are. Don’t let society define you because all that is doing is painting a false image of who you really are. I never try to fit in and would rather be accepted. Elphaba is such an important part of my life and I love how she has so much courage and strength inside of her.  Elphaba has been part of my life for ten years in all and Wicked is a powerful story about friendship and acceptance. Wicked is the best musical comedy. It just keeps on getting better and better and the emotions constantly are maturing.

“On My Own” and “I’m Not That Girl”

I find it quite interesting how you can have two different musical songs about the exact same thing and yet are strongly different from each other. The songs, “On My Own”, and “I’m Not That Girl” are two songs about unrequited love. “On My Own” is from Les Mis and is about Eponine’s unrequited love for Marius and “I’m Not That Girl” is from Wicked and is about Elphaba’s unrequited love for Fiyero. I see incredible differences between them in terms of strength and emotion. I see differences and similarities between the two different girls.

One way I know how different they are from each other is understanding the differences between Eponine and Elphaba during these two parts of the show itself. Both of these girls get caught in the middle of a love triangle and both live in broken families and they both are considered outcasts. They also are both quite young. The thing that makes the girls different is the lives they live. The differences in the characters is what makes one of the songs sadder then the other.

Possible Spoilers:

Elphaba is treated like an outcast in her family and society. Despite that, she still manages to find a friend in Glinda and love in Fiyero. I find it interesting how Glinda and Fiyero both fall in love with the same guy because the two girls are best friends. “I’m Not That Girl” is a song that happens in the first act and not much has happened to Elphaba at this point in the musical. You still have not gotten the full scope of who Elphaba is. In the previous scene, Elphaba accidentally cast a spell during class and it didn’t affect Fiyero. The two ran away with a scared lion cub to release it into the wild. Fiyero wanted Elphaba to say why her spell didn’t affect him, but she couldn’t even get herself to say that she loves him. She doesn’t even know if she is deserving of his love because she is green. I believe that Fiyero has fallen in love with Elphaba at this point, but I don’t think he even realizes it until the beginning of act two. “I’m Not That Girl” is a song dealing with heartbreak, loneliness, love, and sadness.

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But Eponine’s life is worse and darker compared to Elphaba’s. The thing you have to understand about Eponine is that her parents, the Thenardiers, are very abusive, selfish, cruel and greedy. She was raised by them and they taught her how to be a criminal, which means she was always around dark people in her life. She has never seen a source of light or good or even felt loved growing up. Her family falls into extreme poverty after Valjean adopted Cosette. When she meets Marius for the first time, he changed her life because she learned to love and due to her love for Marius, she was able to not develop the wicked ways of her parents.

The love she had for Marius ended up being unrequited, but the sad truth is Marius was the only light in her life. The song “On My Own” happens in the second act and by that point, you have already gotten to know Eponine and her heartbreaking situation because enough time has passed between the time you saw her as a child and the time “On My Own” is sung. In the stage show, it happens in the second act and at this moment, Marius still doesn’t know that she loves him. Eponine already has risked her life several times to make sure that Marius is happy. She helped find Cosette for him and prevented her father and his gang from robbing Valjean’s house. Eponine has decided to dress up as a boy to join Marius at the barricades and Marius notices her and sends her off to deliver a letter to Cosette. “On My Own” happens immediately after she delivers the letter. “On My Own” has heartbreak, loneliness, sad, and love in it, but is capable of anger as well.

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Because Eponine is the sadder character and due to her unrequited love being deeper, it makes “On My Own” the sadder of the two songs. Due to the emotional differences of “I’m Not That Girl” and “On My Own”, that shows that even heartbreak can be a layered emotion. Each song is full of incredible insight, honesty, and truth and both are beautiful songs as well. Both Elphaba and Eponine are strong and complex characters and are two of the most memorable characters in musical theatre.

God’s Divine Plan

You are where God wants you to be at this very moment. Every experience is part of his divine plan

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There is so much truth in this quote. Some people may not realize it, but where you are is indeed part of God’s plan for you. Right now, I know I am the right place. I know that I was meant to be at Gardner Webb. I am remained me of this everyday. There are these beautiful sunsets here and that is one of the main places where I know this is where God wants me to be at this moment. When you are young, you have no idea what the rest of God’s plan holds for you. I know where God wants me to head towards, but even I don’t know how to get there. I have my nonprofit idea, but don’t how to get it started. As I continue my college experience, I hope I will gain skills to allow me to work in nonprofit. I feel like once I start working in a nonprofit, I will start building towards starting mine.

God already has had such an influence on my life. I learned to believe in Him at an Episcopalian Conference Center, Kanuga. That is where a lot of my spirituality was developed as a kid. I did volunteer from time to time with my church and attend Diocese events. At one of those Diocese events, I developed a deep connection to those living in poverty and homelessness. The moment I realized the vast majority of the population was living in poverty, I realized that part of God’s plan was for me to give back to that population.

It took until 2015 to realize that I was meant to work in Nonprofit and this year, I realized that I wanted to open one. At first, I thought God was quite crazy that He wanted me to do that. But I know that God will equip me with what I need to open a Nonprofit. I have never seen volunteering as a sacrifice because it is a passion and calling. I want to turn that passion and make a difference with it. I cannot wait to see what else God has in store for me. Being at Gardner Webb has strengthened my spirituality and it is stronger then it was in high school. Even the Bristol Pilgrimage from summer of 2015 has had such an influence on my spiritual journey. At Gardner Webb, I attend the weekly Gathering, a student-led worship service, and volunteer through my service club.

Strength in Musicals

What creates a strong musical?

I tend to prefer the strong musicals. For the most part, they are usually complex. They are the ones I tend to be the most emotionally connected to. They tend to have both positive and negative emotions in their scores. In my opinion, the scores are highly important in the world of musicals. The songs tend to reflect the storyline and characters really well. The strong musicals tend to have the strong scores. “Newsies” and “Wicked” for instance both have strong scores because their emotions are both positive and negative. The reason why I prefer musicals that have both joy and sad is due to the fact that those scores make me truly care about the characters and makes the experience even more memorable. Yes, the negative emotions do hurt, but describing sad through joy means that I accept the emotions and shows that I truly care about the characters and means that I am willing to feel those emotions.

Even the characters of strong musicals are quite memorable. The strong characters tend to live a life full of conflict and/or hardship. Sometimes it can be quite hard to know if a character is strong or not especially the first time around. Sometimes the strong characters end up living a tragic life.

Some of the strong musicals are based off of a true story like “Newsies”.  The strong plots also seem to be complex. It can be quite difficult to describe the complex musicals at times. There are some strong musicals out there that seem to have a simple plot. The complex plots tend to be filled with conflict and usually have some kind of darkness involved. The characters truly develop in the complex plots. They tend to change throughout the show and have to deal with many challenges.

What do you think makes a strong musical?