Blumenthal Performing Arts is home to about seven theaters. Their main theater is Belk Theater. At Belk, you can see operas, musicals, symphonies, and ballet. I saw Sound of Music, Miss Saigon, Aladdin, Lion King, Newsies, Pippin, Rent, Come From Away, Mamma Mia, Porgy and Bess, and La Cage at Belk. As for operas and ballet, saw La Bohème and Nutcracker there.
Despite Belk being the main theater, it isn’t even the largest. That really surprised me when I learned that Ovens is actually bigger- Belk may have more levels, but Ovens is wider and deeper. If Ovens didn’t exist, there is a good chance many musicals never would have made it to Charlotte. Ovens is able to host musicals when something is happening at Belk. So Ovens allows for a lot more availability.
While I did not see many musicals at Ovens—–I am glad that Ovens does exist or else none of them might have made it to Blumenthal. I saw Addams Family, A Christmas Story-The Musical, Les Mis, and Wicked at Ovens. Whenever I think of Ovens, I think of Wicked: I was able to catch that musical three times on tour. The latest time I saw Wicked, I was watching it with my school. When I saw Les Mis at Ovens, it was a date with my mom: that was our 2nd date to Les Mis: the 1st was in London.
I did not like ALL the Blumenthal shows I saw, but defiantly liked most. Addams Family, Porgy and Bess, and La Cage were musicals I did not even like.
If you live outside of a place that isn’t well known for musical, there still has to be a way to exposed to musicals. Well, this is when musical movies and filmed stage shows come in handy. In addition, musical movies are one of the easiest ways to fall in love with musicals especially during this crisis. What are some of my recommendations.
Well, the 2012 movie was how I fell in love with Les Mis. What I really loved about this movie is how the actors were singing live on set. It has a combo of film actors and stage actors. Yes, the plot can seem confusing at first or even too heartbreaking. But if you search deeper, you will realize the musical is also uplifting and inspiring. It is the easiest to start with the movie: to get used to the plot and fall in love with the songs.
Phantom of the Opera- 25th Special
Well, I saw both the film and 25th special. The 25th is the actual stage show- as in the Original. You have incredible actors. Les Mis may have the 25th and 10th concert films, but not the best way to start with Les Mis. Phantom of the Opera is hauntingly beautiful- the songs show that.
The Greatest Showman
Even though it is not a stage musical, it still is an incredible movie musical. Hugh Jackman really shines at P.T. Barnum: he actually was better in this role- he was Jean Valjean in the Les Mis movie, but shines a lot more as Barnum. The spectacle, the talent, and the songs together are why I would recommend this musical.
Newsies- The Filmed Stage Show
The stage show is SO much better than the movie. It makes the main character, Jack Kelly, more complex and with the addition of Katherine, you get a strong female voice in a cast that is extremely male-based. The filmed stage show has some Original Cast Members. It also is home to mind-blowing dance.
Sound of Music
If you want to start with Rodgers and Hammerstein, I would recommended Sound of Music. It has the incredible Julie Andrews playing Maria. From its exciting numbers to the heartwarming story about music and family to the incredible batch of characters. If you actually fell in love with this movie, I would recommend heading towards Oklahoma, South Pacific, Cinderella, and King and I. Nothing can go wrong with Rodgers and Hammerstein.
Aladdin- Live Action
Disney is an incredible way to start seeing musicals. What I love about the live action movie is that it actually develops well-loved characters further. With the addition of “Speechless”- it makes Jasmine a much stronger character. The actors who play Jasmine and Aladdin are incredible. It is one of the most magical Disney films.
Beauty and the Beast- Live Action
This is such a magical movie. It really shows how “beauty can from within”. It mostly takes place in a castle with enchanting objects. The dance between Belle and Beast is one of the most magical scenes in Disney. With the addition of “Evermore”, it makes the Beast even more complex.
Rent-Final Broadway Cast Film
Rent is truly a story about how to live life. It is talking about living your life in the moment and in love. It focuses on a life of friends in a year during the HIV/AIDS epidemic . Because this is the Final Broadway Cast, you have an incredible cast. It is extremely relevant to now- considering the crisis we are in the middle.
If you are looking for a feel good story, then Mamma Mia is for you. Based on the songs of ABBA, you have an incredible collection of songs. Played by incredible actors. In addition, if you are looking for another feel good story, I would recommend Singin’ in the Rain as well.
I included a lot of incredible musicals to start with. It has the musicals from the feel good stories to more heartbreaking stories. I also can recommend the musical movies of Oliver, Music Man, and Fiddler on the Roof. That is what I have for now.
Well, now I will write a list of my favorite actors in various roles. I know some people have seen these actors before. You don’t have to agree with everything-these are only opinions. Yes, there were be some casts where I might leave a character off- that happens to be the case if I don’t remember the others or have a hard time deciding. In addition, will be missing some shows I love.
Elphaba- Mary Kate Morrissey
Glinda- Amanda Jane Copper
Fiyero- Ashley Parker Angel
Jack Kelly- Joey Barreiro
Javert- Jeremy Secomb
Cosette- Jillian Butler
Eponine- Samantha Barks
Marius- Joshua Grosso
Thenardiers- Phil Daniels and Katy Secombe
Kim- Emily Bautista
Chris- Anthony Festa
John- J. Daughtry
The Engineer- Eymard Cabling
Sophie- Amanda Seyfried
Maria- Julie Andrews
Aladdin- Mena Massoud
Jasmine- Naomi Scott
Babkak, Omar, and Kassim- Zach Bencal, Ben Chavez Colt Prattez
Beast- Dan Stevens
Belle- Emma Watson
Simba- Jared Nixon
Nala- Nia Halloway
Joseph- Donny Osmond
Leading Player- Lisa Karlin
Pippin- Sam Lips
This list is all I have for now.
Some of these actors have no choice, but to be my favorite. That ends up being the case if I only have one cast or if they are the only ones I remember. A few of these are understudies: Mary Kate Morrissey, Lisa Karlin, and Eymard Cabling. A few of them were the first in a role- so that sometimes gives them a huge advantage.
What about you, what are some of your favorite actors in a role?
Sometimes when a musical movie ends up being a stage show, there are usually added songs. Same applies to when a stage show becomes a movie. So, what are some of my favorite added songs.
If I Can’t Love Her
A Change in Me
Proud of Your Boy
Million Miles Away
Babkak, Omar, Aladdin, Kassim
These Palace Walls
They Live in You
Watch What Happens
Letter From the Refuge
Something to Believe In
Dangerous to Dream
What do you Know about Love
True Love- I still can’t believe Frozen cut this song out. Hello, Anna is one of your two protagonists. This was her only solo in the stage show, which happened at a prominent time in her storyline. For me, this still counts as a piece of Frozen
Of all of these songs, it was the hardest writing down some of the added songs in Frozen. I was supposed to see Frozen in October, but got postponed. I am like, why would Frozen be postponed in May? This wasn’t even a decision made by Blumenthal, but by Disney instead.
While it is difficult knowing Broadway is dark until 2021, I know that it will come back. Same applies to Blumenthal- Blumenthal is why I am able to see musicals. They host the touring productions that come to Charlotte. While Frozen and Anastasia got postponed, at least I got to see one musical this year. I got to see Come From Away. I even got to see La Bohème, which my parents were not going to get tickets for: my mom and I got tickets out of the blue by a member of my family church.
Here is what another problem- you can’t own Letter from the Refuge or A Change in Me. I really want to own those, but can’t. They just aren’t part of their soundtracks.
Well, I can easily separate meaningful musicals into three categories. Those are my childhood musicals, Fletcher musicals, and college musicals. These are all self-explanatory meaning you can easily describe all three. Let me put this into more perspective.
My childhood musicals were ALL musicals that entered my life before I started middle school. Beauty and the Beast, Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, Wizard of OZ, Aladdin, Lion King, Grease, Sound of Music, and Annie fit under this category.
What about the Fletcher musicals? Well, I call these Fletcher musicals because they entered my life when I was still a student at Fletcher. I went to that school from 6th -12th grade. That school was a small K-12 school. Most of the musicals I saw in this time frame were movie musicals. These musicals were Wicked, Mamma Mia, Enchanted, and The High School Musical series. So this set of musicals were the smallest.
College Musicals- I went to two colleges. Central Piedmont Community College and Gardner Webb University were the ones I went to. There were a lot of musicals I fell in love. They were Rent, Godspell, Les Mis, South Pacific, Oklahoma, Newsies, Phantom of the Opera, Frozen, Man of La Mancha, White Christmas, Music Man, Pippin, Singing in the Rain, My Fair Lady, Greatest Showman, and Fiddler on the Roof. This time frame was where my passion for musicals came from- thanks to Les Mis, which challenged everything. That is why there is a lot. What was amazing about CPCC is just how professional they feel: I literally called their production of “Les Mis” phenomenal. CPCC is where I started to get more into theatre: I ushered twice for Les Mis and once for Some Enchanted Evening.