What exactly Makes me Love a Song in a Musical?

For any musical, the first step to loving it belongs to the songs. What exactly do I mean by that? The songs do not necessarily need to be singable. They need to be memorable. The songs do need to sound like they all belong in the same musical. It is very very very very very very difficult to explain what makes me love a song period. You do need to remember a song leaving the theatre- yes, but not necessarily singable. I used to think there ALWAYS needed to be a showtune song- a song like “Seize the Day” or “Do Re Mi”- but I learned that is not always the case. The song has to be a song you know you will keep on going back to- as in a song you want to listen to again and again and again without getting sick and tired of it- that is what I mean by memorable. Not all of the musical theatre songs I love are singable.

Examples of songs I love:

  1. Seize the Day
  2. On My Own
  3. Beauty and the Beast
  4. Phantom of the Opera
  5. Seventy Six Trombones
  6. Corner of the Sky
  7. Some Enchanted Evening
  8. Tomorrow
  9. Endless Night
  10. The Impossible Dream
  11. Seasons of Love
  12. Edelweiss
  13. Somewhere
  14. Popular

As you can tell, this is a wide variety of songs. From the exciting songs to the heartbreaking songs to the love songs. Not all of these songs are showtunes. I picked one song from different musicals I either like or love or happen to be musicals that are in between like and love. You can just tell whether or not you love a musical song. In order to love a musical, you have to love the songs- then there is no way to get into the characters and plot that well.

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Animals of the Musical Theatre World

I don’t think I touched on this. When you think of musical theatre, you think of “humans”. There are characters in the musicals theatre world who are not “human”. They are animals themselves or are humans disguised as an animal. I decided to touch on those animals today.

Simba

  • He is the main character of The Lion King. After Mufasa, he is meant to be King, but this makes his Uncle Scar jealous. The story kicks off when Scar murders Mufasa. Simba was led to believe that he killed his father by Scar. After all, Simba was only a cub. Another thing to say about Simba is that his best friend is Nala. Before this tragic event happened, Simba was excited to be king. However the death of Mufasa and being led to be believe that he killed his dad is traumatizing. He had to run away and does not want to return. He ends up living with Timon and Pumba. He did feel like his dad wasn’t watching over him, and did forget who he was. He did fall in love with Nala. Simba did eventually return to the Pride Lands to fight Scar to be King, and learned who really killed Mufasa.
Simba during the stage show when he becomes King
Simba

Nala

  • Like I just said, Nala and Simba are best friends. She has this incredible strength. When Scar asks her to be his Queen, she flees the Pride Lands to get help. This is when she encounters Simba, and that was when the two of them fall in love.
Simba and Nala during Can You Feel the Love Tonight during the stage show of Lion King
Nala and Simba

Mufasa

  • Mufasa is an excellent King and father. While the time was short-lived, he taught Simba incredible life lessons. Even in death, Mufasa still looked over Simba- in one scene- he told Simba- “Remember”. So, Mufasa never forget about his son.

Beast

  • Beast is one of those animals who is a human who was turned into an animal. That is because of a selfish mistake he made. At the time, he didn’t have love in his heart. He didn’t let an old woman into his castle- but he was warned not be deceived by appearances because beauty comes from within. He didn’t realize that the old woman was really an enchantress- she ended up turning the prince into a beast. It was a strong curse- as other humans in the castle were turned into enchanted objects. He had to fall in love with someone else and had to be love in return for the spell to be broken- or else he would stay a beast forever. Years passed, and there was no sign of the spell breaking. Then Belle came, and became a prisoner in his castle, and taught him love- she was the one to break the curse. Those two fell in love.
Beast and Belle during the song, Beauty and the Beast, in the live action movie, Beauty and the Beast
Beast

Sandy

  • This time, the character is played by an actual dog. It is Annie’s dog. She found him as a stray on the streets. She decided to own the dog. That is one of the things I love about the character of Annie- that she would own the dog- she has compassion for Sandy. It in so ways impresses me much more to see an actual animal acting in a musical than an actor/actress.

What are other animal characters you love in musicals?

Childhood Musicals

We all have memories. When we become adults, we wish we were children again. That is because life as a child was easier. We sometimes want to be able to remember what that felt like- being a child. If we were raised on musicals- we will have childhood musicals. Childhood musicals have something special in them- they have this special quality that no other musical has. They come with this nostalgia- we feel like kids whenever we watch them. What are my childhood musicals?

Annie

Annie

Annie was my favorite musical in elementary school- I fell in love with by the 1982 movie. Now that I think of it, I believe I had an emotional connection to Annie. In elementary school- I did not know what “emotional connection” was. I was optimistic as a child- I think that was why I loved Annie, and why the song, “Tomorrow” is my favorite song from the musical. It stayed my favorite musical for a few years. In the year 2014 at the age of 20, I finally saw the stage show of Annie, and while watching it, I did feel like a child.

Sound of Music

"Sound of Music" from the film
“Sound of Music”

This was another musical that entered my life in elementary school. It was the musical film. My favorite song was “Edelweiss”. In 2015, finally watched the stage show. “Edelweiss” took me by surprise- an emotion entered the song that never was there- it turned it a bittersweet song due to sad entering the picture- I believe it was a combo of nostalgia, and a nonverbal that was made by Ben Davis (Captain Von Trapp). “Do Re Mi” was the first musical song I memorized all the lyrics to.

Beauty and the Beast- amongst other Disney musical films.

I mean, who would not grow up without Disney. I am a 90s girl after all. The main song that really stuck with me was “Beauty and the Beast”. It was the only song I remembered. Of all Disney classic couples- Belle and Beast are my favorite Disney couples. When I watched the live action movie in 2017- my love of the original came back to me- I did feel like a kid watching the live action movie.

"Beauty and the Beast" scene from the classic film
“Beauty and the Beast”

Wicked

I might be stretching things, but in my opinion, Wicked is my final childhood musical. Yes, I was 12 at the time- but it still counts. It was the year 2006 in the month August. I was with my mom. Little did I know that when I entered the Gershwin Theater that I would be changed “for good”. There is a reason why the song, “Popular”, is my favorite song from Wicked: it was my favorite song at age 12- nostalgia is why. Annie was my favorite musical until I saw Wicked. My journey with musicals truly began with this musical.

"For Good" scene from Wicked
“For Good”

What I expected from musicals growing up comes from my childhood musicals. Spectacle, dance, comedy, complexity, romance, positive and negative emotions in the score, and a strong emotional connection (bonus: relating to a character). Those elements still exist to this day- I still want those to exist- however, I have learned that some musicals are different than what is typically associated with musicals.

Favorite Musicals and Favorite Songs

All musical theatre fans have their favorite musicals. In each musical, there is usually a song that becomes their favorite. I decided to write a list of some of my favorite musicals and what my favorite song is.

  1. Wicked- Popular
  2. Les Mis- (Do I have to say more); this is an exception where I can’t pick
  3. Sound of Music- Edelweiss
  4. Phantom of the Opera- either Music of the Night or All I Ask of You
  5. Annie- Tomorrow
  6. Newsies- Seize the Day
  7. Beauty and the Beast- Beauty and the Beast
  8. Lion King- Can You Feel the Love Tonight
  9. Rent- Seasons of Love
  10. Music Man- Seventy Six Trombones
  11. South Pacific- Some Enchanted Evening
  12. Pippin- Corner of the Sky
  13. Mamma Mia- Dancing Queen
  14. Man of La Mancha- Impossible Dream
  15. Godspell- We Beseech Thee


Survivors I Love in Musicals

Yesterday, my question was who was my favorite survivor in Les Mis. I realized that I actually loved more survivors than non-survivors. I also knew about more characters who lived than died in musicals.

  1. Elphaba
  2. Glinda
  3. Fiyero
  4. Jack Kelly
  5. Crutchie
  6. Davey
  7. Newsies
  8. Katherine Plumber
  9. Marius
  10. Cosette
  11. Maria (Sound of Music)
  12. Von Trapp Children
  13. Simba
  14. Nala
  15. Zazu
  16. Rafiki
  17. Raoul
  18. Christine
  19. Annie
  20. Orphans
  21. Belle
  22. Beast
  23. Lumiere
  24. Cogsworth
  25. Mrs. Potts
  26. Chip
  27. Pippin
  28. Harold Hill
  29. Winthrop
  30. Elsa
  31. Anna
  32. Sancho Panza
  33. Chris

This is a list of more than 33 characters. After all, the Newsies take up the majority of the cast, the Von Trapp children are 7 characters, and the same applies to the Annie orphans in Annie (at least five characters).

Contemporary and Classical Musical Theatre- Which one am I (Am I Both?)

One of the most frustrating questions I am asked as a musical theatre fanatic is if I prefer classical musicals over contemporary or vice versa- what happens if you are both. I decided to talk about the question here. I will talk about a number of the musicals I love and the ones I am interested in seeing.

Classical

  • These are musicals people tend to think of that come before the 21st century. I will talk about the ones that I love that come before then.

Music Man

  • I love Music Man for how light-hearted and happy it is. I love its song and plot.

Sound of Music

  • This was and still is a childhood meaningful musical. The songs are fun and very easy to sing along to. Its plot is very easy to fall in love with. Sound of Music is very easy to fall in love with.

South Pacific

  • One of the things that drew me to South Pacific is the fact that it is a Rodgers and Hammerstein musical. Its songs are both fun and emotional. This musical is a romance, and like any Rodgers and Hammerstein musical, it focuses on two couples- one of which is more light-hearted and the other of which more serious.

Singing in the Rain

  • I love Singing in the Rain for some of the same reasons why I love Music Man. It has the light-hearted and fun nature. You want musicals like that to help balance out musicals out.

Oliver

  • This is another musical I quite enjoy. It has a collection of fun and emotional songs. I love it when songs in musicals (like South Pacific) are home to positive and negative emotions. Incredible plot- after all, this is based off Dickens’ Oliver Twist.

Fiddler on the Roof

  • Like all of these musicals, I love the songs in Fiddler on the Roof.

Annie

  • This musical, like Sound of Music, is a meaningful childhood musical. I have always related to Annie. I think that is why I always loved Annie. Its catchy songs, and its incredible plot are reasons why I love Annie so much.

Les Mis

  • There are several reasons why I love Les Mis. I love how powerful, epic, powerful, and highly emotional it is. I love how so intricate its plot- literally if one thing is out, the entire plot is ruined. The characters are so interconnected that they directly and indirectly impact each others’ lives. Usually in a musical- I know my favorite song, but in Les Mis- there is no way I can pick. Les Mis is the reason why I am passionate about musicals. Les Mis always makes me an emotional wreck- either by songs alone, the film, or the stage show. It disproved many things I thought a musical was growing up.

Phantom of the Opera

  • I love the spellbinding and mysterious nature of Phantom of the Opera. Its’ love triangle is dark, suspenseful, angelic, and beautiful. This musical is hauntingly beautiful in so many ways. I was spellbound and choked up when I saw it.

Beauty and the Beast

  • It is quite an enchanting and magical musical. Its characters are extremely memorable- from Belle to Beast to the enchanted objects. Its songs are extremely energetic, but at the same time there are the more emotional songs at times.

Lion King

  • I love how the animals are created in Lion King. Also love the energetic and emotional nature of the songs in this musical. It has such a memorable plot.

Contemporary

  • Now we are in the more contemporary musicals. It sounds like I love a number of classical musicals- there are other classical musical I love (just gives you an idea). Now we are into the musicals of the 21st century

Mamma Mia

  • Just like Music Man and Singing in the Rain, it has the overall light-hearted nature. I love how fun the numbers are- that is the main reason why I love Mamma Mia.

Wicked

  • Of all the contemporary musicals, Wicked is my favorite. Wicked was responsible for sparking my love for musicals. I love that the two protagonists in Wicked are two strong females. The story is about Elphaba (AKA The Wicked Witch of the West) and Glinda’s relationship. Everything- from songs, to costumes (everything) feels OZian. Wicked was the reason why I knew what an emotional connection was; what it meant for a musical theatre character and plot to be complex; and where I learned the emotional side of musicals. Elphaba is my all-time favorite musical character. Wicked is home to my favorite musical theatre love triangle. The only characters I emotionally connected to in Wicked are Elphaba, Fiyero, and Glinda.

Newsies

  • Newsies is one of the newest musicals of my life. I love the bond all of them share especially the intimate one found between Jack Kelly and Crutchie. I love seeing characters who stand up for what they believe in. The dancing I saw in Newsies was mind-blowing. The songs are energetic and emotional.

Frozen

  • While I still haven’t seen the stage show, I still love the musical. It all started with the film- I fell in love with the movie; the plot, the characters (except for some- the bad guys are the ones I did not like), and the songs from the film. When I first heard it was coming to stage, I was excited. I eventually began to listen to some of the new songs, and I fell in love with the new songs I listened to. I believe the stage show will be more emotional, which will mean it will be stronger and more believable, than the movie. I recently heard that Fall 2019, a US Tour be launched- cannot wait- hopefully in Charlotte’s 2019-2020: Frozen will be part of it.

Other Contemporary Musicals I Want to See

  • Anastasia- got interested after hearing some songs in 2018
  • Something Rotten- got interested after some songs as well (don’t remember what year

Conclusion

  • So, about am I a classical musical theatre fan or about a contemporary musical fan? I believe I am both. I know, I have seen more musicals that are pre-21st century. The musicals I see has to do with what musicals are on tour- and which ones I choose to see during the season. I am both- just doesn’t seem that way.

How can you Tell when a Musical is Meaningful

This is a hard question to answer. Musicals fans have meaningful musicals in their lives. How can you tell if a musical if is meaningful? I will try to explain it through some of my meaningful musicals. Some of the reasons are obvious, but some not so much.

Annie:

  • This is one of the most meaningful musicals of my childhood musicals. But why was it meaningful? It was my favorite musical at the time. Yes, I only enjoyed musicals in elementary school, but they were the stepping stones until the love was sparked. I believe it was meaningful because of the character, Annie. I was optimistic as a child and so was Annie. Relating to a character is one way to tell if a musical is meaningful. Years later, in 2014 when I finally saw the stage show, I felt like a kid again. It will always have that nostalgic feeling- there is something special about childhood musicals.
Annie in the movie

Sound of Music:

  • Sound of Music kind of has the same meaning as Annie. It played a huge part in my childhood before my love for musicals was sparked. Sometimes you don’t realize the meaning of a musical until years later. I do remember that “Edelweiss” was my first piano recital song. “Edelweiss” is my favorite song from song from Sound of Music. Years later of seeing the movie, in 2015, I became a bigger fan of Sound of Music. The emotional and vulnerable level increased all because of “Edelweiss”- sad entered that song- it never was in that musical- I think it was combo of the nostalgia, and the song itself. I felt like a kid again. You know- childhood musicals that are meaningful have a special nostalgia in them that brings you back to your child- that is what is so special about them. One of the themes in it is family- I think that theme is one of the reasons why it is meaningful- after all without my family, I wouldn’t have become the musical fan I am today. It is not just that theme that makes it meaningful- I think it also is the theme of music that makes it meaningful. So even themes can make a musical meaningful.

Wicked:

This musical had a huger impact on me than Annie and Sound of Music combined. My first memory of it was seeing it on Broadway with my mom- I was 12 at the time. My favorite song at the time was “Popular”, and still is. I came into the Gerswhin Theater unaware of the impact Wicked would have on my life. Wicked sparked my love for musicals- this truly was the beginning of my journey. I don’t have vivid memories of that night on Broadway, but the impact truly shows. So, a meaningful musical can also be the musical that sparked your love for them.

Wicked was the musical that taught me what it meant to have an emotional connection. Previously, I did not know what it meant to have an emotional connection to characters and plot. Wicked showed me that through Elphaba, Glinda, and Fiyero especially towards Elphaba. Wicked taught me about the complexity and emotional side of musicals. Now there were four core emotions: excitement, love, joy, and sad: I thought those were the only core emotions. So Wicked was key to many things- it was basically my vision in musicals: spectacle, dance, comedy, romance, complexity, positive and negative emotions in the score, and a strong emotional connection. I thought I knew everything about musicals (or did I?)

Mom and I at the Gershwin Theater in New York

Les Mis:

There is a reason why I said (did I) in my Wicked post. Les Mis went against everything I thought I knew. I did have a rocky start to Les Mis. I first saw the film in December 2012- I came in so blind to Les Mis: I was shocked and confused that it was a tragedy. I did not know to respond. At the end of the film, I did not know if I liked Les Mis. Despite the confusion, I started researching Les Mis anyways without knowing why.

March 2013- I decided to watch the Les Mis film a 2nd time. This time I was prepared to watch the tragedy. I was able to calm down. I started to realize there is something special in Les Mis. I became a fan of Les Mis. By summer 2013, I was officially obsessed with the musical. Les Mis turned my love of musicals into a passion. So if a musical turned your love of musicals into a musical, that makes it meaningful. In addition, in high school, I told myself I will NEVER love a tragedy- Les Mis changed that opinion. Les Mis goes beyond its tragedy- those are the only tragedies I want to see. Even the message of a musical makes it meaningful.

Les Mis went against everything I thought I knew about musicals. Originally, I thought all musicals were happy and comic, but capable of sad songs. In theatre, I thought death scenes could never be memorable especially towards a favorite character- Les Mis proved me wrong and thought a song couldn’t happen at a death scene. I believed that the emotion of sad could go not go beyond that emotion- heartbreak entered the picture. The emotional nature of musicals went to a nature I thought was impossible. I just said some things Les Mis went against. Usually in a musical, I know my favorite song, but Les Mis I can’t choose. I also can’t choose my favorite character. I only know my favorite survivor- that’s it.

Enjolras, Marius, and the students during "Red and Black"

Rent:

  • Like Les Mis, this is another sad musical I love. It is the message that makes it meaningful. To live in the moment and to live in love instead of fear. Rent takes place during the HIV/AIDS epidemic. Those who have HIV deal with fear and uncertainty- they know they are going to die- that is what they have to deal with everyday. They live everyday as if its their last- in the present instead of the past. These characters celebrate life.The message of a musical makes it meaningful. This message is hard to ignore.

Phantom of the Opera

  • Phantom of the Opera is a meaningful musical to me. I have a hard time explaining why. I think everyone has musicals like that. I think any musical that you have an emotional connection to are meaningful (at the same time, you have to like the music). I was spellbound from start to finish and was choked up watching it. The songs are very different from a number of musicals- just like Les Mis’ songs are very different. Maybe it is how different the songs are. I think it is the emotional connection I have to Phantom of the Opera. So emotional connection is one of the ways you can if a musical is meaningful.
Christine and Raoul during "All I Ask of You"

Pippin:

  • Just like with other musicals I put on here, the message is important. Pippin is trying to find out where he belongs. This is part of why Pippin is meaningful to me. This is one of the four musicals I saw in 2015. This message can apply to anyone- basically to anyone who is trying to figure out where they belong in life, and that is their “Corner of the Sky”.
"Magic to Do" during the Revival
“Magic to Do” during Pippin Revival

Newsies:

  • It is time to get a Disney musical on here. Newsies has been in my life since August 2016. I had an emotional connection from the start- that is what you want. If you have an emotional connection from the beginning- that is a clue that the musical will be meaningful. I became emotionally connected to the intimate bond between Jack Kelly and Crutchie and quickly after I emotionally bonded with all the Newsies. It wasn’t until two weeks later I realized that Newsies was a meaningful musical to me. I was listening to “Seize the Day”, my favorite song from the musical, and these lyrics popped up- “courage cannot erase our fear. courage is when we face our fear”. From those lyrics alone- I realized Newsies was meaningful. So even just a few lyrics from a musical can tell you a musical is meaningful.
Jack and Crutchie singing "Santa Fe (Prologue)

I didn’t name all of my meaningful musicals, but does tell you how do you know when a musical is meaningful. Here is a quick recap.

  • A musical sparks your love for musicals
  • A musical is responsible for your passion for musicals
  • Having an emotional connection in the musical to characters and the musical
  • Certain lyrics- that does sound the craziest, but it is true
  • The message
  • Important musicals from your childhood