Simple Musicals- What makes Them Simple

While yesterday, I talked about what makes musicals complex. I decided to do the complete opposite and describe what makes a musical simple. The idea of simple and complex musicals might be confusing to some people. So what exactly makes a musical simple?

Songs

The songs in these musicals tend to just consist of happy songs. They don’t really have negative emotions in their songs. But some actually do, but the sad song most likely will not be strong enough to get a strong emotional reaction. However, I have come across one simple musical that has a heartbreaking song in it, but that is rare in the simple musicals.

Plot

Well, you can’t really find subplots in them. The only subplot you most likely will find is a romantic subplot. They range from not having a plot or having a plot, but not much to it. That means it is very easy to follow the plot and not having many things happening throughout the entire musical.

Characters

The main character usually is not that complex. There are only a few words you can use to even describe the protagonist. It can be difficult to even find a complex character, and if there is—-most likely they might be the only complex character. I tend to lean towards complex plots and characters, but I still can love a simple musical. A lot of these characters usually tend be without their flaws and only have strengths.

Emotional Connection

Just like complex musicals, it still is possible that you will form an emotional connection. But, it can be easier to form an strong emotional connection in complex musicals because the characters feel more real and believable.

Examples of Simple Musicals

  1. Cats- that is the only musical where I have found a heartbreaking song (“Memory”)
  2. Mamma Mia
  3. Annie

Can you think of other simple musicals?

Childhood Musicals- The Importance

There are different phases when it comes to musicals, which it was for me. So far, it was the childhood musicals, middle school/ high school musicals, and the college musicals. Those combined are way I am the musical fan I am today.

Yes, the childhood musicals are the beginning of what I know them to be. After all, it is very hard to not to be exposed musicals after childhood. After all, several of children are exposed to Disney, which makes an amazing chance they will come across a musical at least once in my life time.

While Wicked truly was the beginning of my musical theatre journey, those childhood musicals still made a part in my love for musicals. Due to being born in 1994, I was around the classic Disney musicals: Beauty and the Beast, Lion King, and Aladdin were the ones I remember the most. It was their main love song that stuck with me the most- I fell in love with “Beauty and the Beast”, “Can You Feel the Love Tonight”, and “A Whole New World” are a huge reason why I know I saw those musical movies. It was the childhood musicals that made me want to see Dance/Spectacle in musicals, and they started one of the core emotions: the one of excitement.

It wasn’t just Disney musicals I fell in love with in childhood. The ones I remember the most outside of Disney were Annie and Sound of Music. “Tomorrow” and “Edelweiss” are my favorite songs from those musicals. Now that I know of emotional connection in musicals, I now have realized why I loved them and why both of them are meaningful. I was connected to Annie’s optimism- I am also an optimistic person. So without knowing, I already formed an emotional connection with Annie. Just like Annie, I couldn’t figure what the meaning of Sound of Music, but after picking up on emotional connection, I know exactly why it is one of the meaningful musicals- it belonged to family and music. They also formed a role in the foundation of musicals.

I really don’t remember if love was also was an emotion I discovered in elementary school or middle school. While three love songs stuck with me in elementary school, I honestly don’t know if I picked up on love. So, that was a huge reason why I usually say excitement and joy began the first core emotions, and at the time had no idea there were five of them. Some of my childhood musicals had sad or heartbreaking songs, but I honestly had no idea.

There is something about childhood musicals that can’t be expressed in other musicals. After all, when I see them I feel like a child again, and then of course there is the nostalgia. I love all of them more than ever now- now that I am aware of the five core emotions. Those musicals really started the foundation of what I want in a musicals. So, they played a huge part in my journey before the love was sparked.

What do you think makes childhood musicals so special?

Tomorrow

Many people grew up with this musical: Annie. It is one of my childhood favorites. It used to my favorite musical. Let me explain why I love Annie.

Songs:

I love Annie’s songs. They are exciting to listen to. I always look forward to “Tomorrow”, the title song of the show.

Characters:

Annie- I love her optimism and she does care about others. Think about it: she basically adopted a stray dog on the streets and does in the orphanage look after Molly, who is one of the youngest. However, her strongest characteristic is the optimism, and I think that is why I loved Annie so much as a child.

Orphans- I do love the other orphans.

Daddy Warbucks- I love him. Over time, he develops a special bond with Annie when she stays with him.

Sandy: Yes, I love a dog in a musical

Plot:

It’s plot may be simple, but amazing. It is basically an orphan staying with a billionaire for a week. There is something special about those childhood musicals- something that cannot be created by others.

Favorite Song: Tomorrow

Favorite Protagonists of Musicals

One of the most crucial elements of a musical is the protagonist (the main character). It is their story that we want to follow along with the various subplots. Who are some of my favorite protagonists?

  1. Elphaba/Glinda
  2. Aladdin
  3. Belle
  4. Simba
  5. Elsa/Anna
  6. Jack Kelly
  7. Christine
  8. Jean Valjean
  9. Annie
  10. Oliver
  11. Harold Hill
  12. Maria- the Sound of Music one

Why do two have two protagonists listed. Frozen and Wicked just happen to have two main characters in them, and I wouldn’t choose one over the other to be the primary protagonist.

Musical Theatre- the Meaningful Ones

There is one thing that is true for ALL musical theatre fanatics. We know there are musicals in our lives that meaningful and others that are not. The ones that are meaningful end up in our favorites pile. They are the ones that tend to stay with us. What are some of those meaningful musicals in my life (I think you can predict some of them)?

Wicked:

  • I may have had meaningful musicals in my life BEFORE Wicked. However, where did my journey with musicals truly begin? When I first saw Wicked, I was only 12 in NYC on Broadway with my mom. All I can remember is that “Popular” was my favorite song at the time. Before Wicked, I do not think I even knew what an emotional connection was or the emotional and complex side of musicals was. I discovered all of THAT due to Wicked. Wicked made sad come to the forefront, and I do not even remember if love came to the forefront or not due to Wicked, but there is a good chance it might have. I am totally aware that it was Wicked that first made me pick up on the concept of love triangles. Wicked sparked my love for musicals- Elphaba, Glinda, and Fiyero became important parts of my life especially Elphaba.

The three pictures above were from three of the four times I saw Wicked. I saw it once with mom, once with mom and my sister, once with my dad, and once with my university. Each time I saw Wicked, the show got better and due to the emotions deepening I became more vulnerable to the musical; so my emotional connection remained.

Les Mis:

Well, a love may have been sparked by Wicked, but there was no passion. I THOUGHT I knew musicals. I once told myself I will never love a tragedy. I told myself there was only four core emotions: excitement, love, joy, and sad. I told myself ALL musicals were happy and comic that had a few sad moments here and there. I told myself there was no way a death scene would be memorable, and that a song could not happen during one. I even thought I knew just how intense emotions can get in musicals- well Les Mis would challenge everything.

My family was on vacation in Florida in 2012, and we went to see the Les Mis film. I honestly did NOT want to see the film. I was so unsure about it. I only knew it was a musical: not if it was a COMEDY or a TRAGEDY: so I was blind to it being tragic. So I was blind to HEARTBREAK as well. After the first death, I completely realized Les Mis was tragic. I honestly did not know how to respond- I was shocked and confused. I still left the movie theater with “Do You hear the People Sing” stuck in my head. I still was NOT the biggest fan of the musical. The strangest thing though was a few days or maybe at least a week or two weeks after, I started researching Les Mis (do not know why).

Well- there came a point in 2013 when I decided to give the film a 2nd chance. Good thing I knew it was tragic. I started to fall in love with Les Mis. I slowly begin to realize that the musical had something special about it and that it did make you feel uplifted. By summer 2013, I became obsessed with Les Mis. Les Mis is WHY I am a musical theatre fanatic (maybe not the most accurate word). This might sound strange, but I was not an emotional wreck in the beginning; that was a reaction that was built up over time. I never thought a musical could be just how intense (I think true Les Mis fans know what I am talking about) it could get. I have an emotional connection to almost every story in Les Mis- to Valjean’s to Fantine’s to the love triangle to the Uprising. Usually in a musical, I know what my favorite song is, but in Les Mis I can’t even narrow it down.

Sound of Music:

  • Childhood musicals are nothing like the ones that enter you life in college. They have this kind of nostalgia that no other musical can achieve. Sound of Music is one of those musicals. I have loved Sound of Music since I was a child. It had been meaningful for that long- even longer that Wicked.

Annie:

  • Annie has a similar kind of meaning that Sound of Music has. It is another childhood favorite. Before Wicked entered my life and became my favorite musical, Annie was my favorite musical. Each time I see the 1982 musical, I feel like a child again. I am like Annie in the fact that we are both optimistic- I never figured out why I loved the character until my college years.

Rent:

  • This is another sad musical that entered my life. A big thing that makes Rent meaningful is its message. While being sad, Rent is truly a celebration of life. It is about living your life in love even in the face of fear- that is what the Rent characters have to deal with: after all this musical takes place during the HIV/AIDS epidemic of the 1980s/1990s so getting it is quite scary so there is a good chance that if you get that disease there is a high chance you are not going to survive. So these characters, instead of living in fear, they choose to live in love and in the moment- only four of the major characters have the devastating disease, but it still affects their friends. It is truly the message of Rent that makes it meaningful- No Day But Today!!!!! Rent, like Les Mis, makes me an emotional wreck.

Newsies

Courage cannot erase our Fear. Courage is when we face our Fear

Seize the Day

I fell in love with Newsies August 2016 during the US Tour. At the time, Joey Barreiro, my favorite Jack Kelly, was leading the tour. At the time, I remember being mind-blown by the dance. I felt an emotional connection quickly- it started out between the intimate and special bond between Jack and Crutchie and soon after, my emotional connection grew between all of the Newsies. I knew I loved Newsies, but did not even realize that Newsies was already meaningful to me. However, a few weeks later after hearing “Seize the Day” and picking up on the lyrics “Courage cannot erase our Fear. Courage is when we face our Fear”, I knew for a fact that Newsies was meaningful. I really do not know what drives me to those lyrics in “Seize the Day” so much- what I do know is that “Seize the Day” is my favorite song from the musical. Newsies is not my only favorite and meaningful Disney musical.

What are some your meaningful musicals?