What Are Some Special Trips of Mine?

I have had such a fortunate life. Now, I want to share some of the best trips about my life and will share a bit of what makes them special.

  1. New York- In the picture below, it is in the year 2006 and I was 12 at the time. That trip consisted of just mom and me. That was a huge part of why the trip was meaningful to me. During this trip, my mom took me to see Wicked on Broadway. I don’t have many vivid memories of seeing Wicked, but I do remember that the song, Popular, was my favorite song from the musical. While I don’t have vivid memories of seeing Wicked, the impact clearly shows. Wicked sparked my love for musicals and it how I started to understand complexity in musical. It also was the beginning of understanding emotions as well and Elphaba became such a meaningful musical character in my life.

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2. Next up is Alaska. This was a trip that I went on in the year, 2011. I went with my extended family. We went through a group called Tauck Bridges. We got to explore nature a lot of times. It consisted of several hikes and a “glacier and whale” tour. I got to meet husky dogs. I even went panning for gold. This trip was basically a cruise, but instead of traveling by cruise trip, we traveled by bus.

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3. Costa Rica happened in 2014. I studied abroad for two weeks. Costa Rica like Alaska is another beautiful place to visit. I ended up staying with a host mom. The place we stayed at was Atenas. One special part was when we visited Monteverde.

Monteverde is a rain forest preserve. We hiked a lot when we were there. When we hiked the first time, it was fun being out in nature. The second round, I went on the canopy tour and at first, I didn’t know if I wanted to do it, but I decided to go on the canopy tour. The canopy tour is a zip-line above the canopy. Sometimes I got stuck in the middle, which was scary at times and a guide had to come get back and sometimes I had to go down with one.

We spent some time in the capitol of Costa Rica, which is San Jose. One time we spent the day exploring the place. Another day, we went to see a play, which was hard to understand since it was all in Spanish. But I was able to pick up on the fact that the show was comedy. Another thing we all did was visit a coffee plantation. Everything we did in Costa Rica was culture related.

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4. The same year, 2014, I went on another special trip. In December, I went on a plane by myself to spend a week with my grandma in St. Louis. That was one special trip and one very special part was seeing Annie. Annie was my favorite musical before seeing Wicked. I think I loved Annie so much as a kid due to Annie’s optimism and her relationship to Sandy.

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5. The most recent special trip I went on was England. Our church choir was in residence at Bristol Cathedral so England was a pilgrimage. The fact that the trip was a pilgrimage was a big reason why the trip was so meaningful. That year was 2015 in July and the pilgrimage began on the 31st. But the best part of the trip had nothing to do with the pilgrimage, but connected in some way.

The day before on July 30th, mom gave me a special treat. She actually took me to see Les Mis in London on the West End. It was my dream to see Les Mis in London. It was where the show truly began. At this performance, I had an understudy as Valjean. The cast I saw was brilliant and so was Adam Bayjou. I always get nervous when I hear I have understudies, but Adam has been the best Valjean I ever saw. In this cast, I finally felt for Javert due to how Jeremy Secomb portrayed him. The revolve was very effective and it helped with time change and was quite useful at the barricade. This production did make me cry and laugh and feel several emotions like I expected. Mom and I sat nine rows back from the stage.

Literally after hearing one note at this performance, I knew it was more than expected and I was speechless after both act I and act II and was one of the first ones to stand up at the end. That was how good the cast was. The entire cast was brilliant from ensemble to leads. Mom took me to the stage door afterwards and I met Adam and he signed my playbill. I think things came full circle with Les Mis because the West End is London’s version of Broadway. It came full circle because I saw Wicked on Broadway with my mom. Due to loving Wicked and Les Mis equally, it was quite fitting I saw one on Broadway and one in the West End.

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Les Mis was in a lot of ways connected to the pilgrimage. Les Mis is Valjean’s spiritual journey and the Bristol Pilgrimage was my spiritual journey. We went to three castles, which were Berkeley, Windsor, and Chepstow. We visited TinTern Abbey, Stonehenge. I saw ten church services at four different places. We saw them at WestMinster Abbey, St. Paul’s Cathedral, Salisbuy Cathedral, and Bristol Cathedral.

At the last service at Bristol Cathedral, I truly knew how transforming the trip was. It was during the anthem and I actually cried and that that reaction was how I knew how transforming the trip was. Stonehenge was the mountain-top moment of the pilgrimage. But the best part of the pilgrimage was not one of the places we visited. it  It was actually the fellowship that was formed between all 72 pilgrims.

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So all of these trips were quite special. All of these trips had some sort of impact on my life. New York was impactful due to seeing Wicked on Broadway and I think that was a big reason why it has been the most meaningful musical of my life growing up. One trip was the best extended family trip I ever been on and was inedible spending time in nature. One trip made me learn about culture in Costa Rica and made me see nature in a new perspective especially due to a canopy tour. The last one was important to my spiritual journey and my journey with Les Mis.

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Favorite Female Musical Characters: Part Two

Yesterday, I wrote a list of some of my favorite female characters. Today’s post will be talking about these characters more in detail and why I love. them.

Possible Spoilers (Major or Minor):

First up is Elphaba, one of the main protagonists of Wicked. Of all musical characters, she is my favorite. I love her so much and I have loved her since middle school. The reason why I love Elphaba so much is because of how much I can relate to her. Like me, she is smart, determined, talkative, big-hearted, unique, and believes in equality and staying true to herself. She is strong, complex, and courageous and those are three main characteristics I look for in a musical character. I admire the courage that she shows and how she stands up for what she believes.

The second best character is Glinda. Glinda is the other protagonist of Wicked. She is very outgoing and comical. Glinda is Elphaba’s best friend. These two girls both fall in love with Fiyero, which creates this really complex love triangle. You cannot really separate Elphaba and Glinda. Glinda is a comical character who eventually has to put with some very painful things especially in act II.

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The third best character is Eponine. I feel like Eponine should be my second best favorite female character, but I can’t seem to separate Elphaba and Glinda. Eponine is daughter of the Thenardiers. The Thenardiers are not the best of parents and after Cosette left, they started horribly abusing her and raised her to a criminal. Eponine lives a very empty life filled with lots of darkness. What I find interesting about Eponine is how despite being a Thenardier, she still has some redeeming qualities about her and is not quite like her parents.

She only has one source of light in her miserable existence, who is Marius, the only person who ever showed her kindness. That is why she loves him and I believe it is part of why she grows up with some moral compass. Even though he doesn’t love her, she puts aside her happiness for the sake of his. She constantly shows true love towards him and she risks her life several times. Eponine is strong, complex, brave, loyal, and loving, which are wonderful characteristics to have. Eponine is the character I will be dressing up as at the Les Mis party I am going to this summer.

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Another female Les Mis character I love is Young Cosette. Young Cosette reminds me of Eponine in a way. She is living with the Thenardiers and like Eponine, she gets horribly abused as well. The Thenardiers force her to be a servant and things aren’t going too well for Cosette. She gets through the abuse through the fantasies she creates. Young Cosette is a character who has hopes that she will eventually get rescued. She eventually gets rescued by Jean Valjean after he promised her mother that he will raise Cosette as his own.

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Another Les Mis character is Fantine. Fantine is Cosette’s mother and loves her a lot. Everything Fantine does is for the sake of Cosette. Fantine’s storyline is the hardest one to watch and she eventually has to become a prostitute in order to provide for her daughter. The real heartbreaking part is that she has no clue that the Thenardiers are horribly abusing her daughter and that they are scamming her out of money. She doesn’t even know that the letter she received at the factory is a hoax. I love Fantine because she is such a wonderful mother whose actions are the sake of her daughter.

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Annie is a musical character I have loved since elementary school. She is a very simple character. I love that she is optimistic and love how she decides to adopt Sandy, a stray dog she finds on the street.

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Belle is another female character I love. She loves books and love the relationship she has with her father. When her father is taken captive by the Beast, she agrees to take his place to get him out. That was a very brave thing to do. She teaches the Beast how to love and teaches him that he is more than he believes. Belle is able to realize that beauty comes form within. Belle is a character I first witnessed in elementary school, but she recently reentered my life when I saw the live version of the storyline. I cannot believe I forgot that I loved Belle as a child.

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Favorite Female Musical Characters: Part One

I recently talked about my favorite male musical characters. Now its the time for my favorite female characters. As a matter of fact, my favorite musical character is female and I will identify which she is. So here is my list of favorite female characters.

  1. Elphaba- Favorite
  2. Glinda
  3. Eponine
  4. Young Cosette
  5. Fantine
  6. Annie
  7. Grizabella
  8. Christine
  9. Mimi
  10. Belle
  11. Katherine
  12. Maria- Sound of Music
  13. Anna- King and I
  14. Audrey

These are my favorite female characters I can speak of right now. The next post will go into some of these characters more into detail and explain why I love them. About the the last two, they are two characters I love, but are not from musicals I love.

What Makes a Musical Meaningful?

Meaningful musicals are an important part of who I am. But what exactly does makes a musical meaningful? To me, a musical becomes meaningful in so many ways. Sometimes a musical is meaningful due to a particular character or song or a musical that has taught you something very valuable. Below I will talk about some of my meaningful musicals and why they are meaningful.

Wicked is one of the meaningful musicals that has been part of my life for quite a while. It entered my life in summer of 2006 on Broadway when I went with my mom. Wicked was the musical where I began to understand the emotional side of musicals and the emotional connection piece of musicals. I don’t have vivid memories of what it was like to see Wicked on Broadway, but the impact clearly shows. My relationship to Elphaba is very personal and she is my favorite musical character and she is one of the biggest reasons why Wicked is meaningful to me. I see a lot of myself in her because like her, I am smart, determined, talkative, big-hearted, unique and I believe in equality and staying true to myself.

The other two characters I love in Wicked are Glinda and Fiyero. Both of them bring an uniqueness to Wicked. The musical centers around the friendship between Elphaba and Glinda. There is also the complicated love triangle between Elphaba, Glinda, and Fiyero and no love triangle has been more complicated than this one.  Without Wicked, the emotional side of musicals would not have become what they are today.

Below is a picture of me when I saw the musical a fourth time. Wicked has changed a lot over the years and the show is still spectacular, but continues to improve over the years. The emotional side has changed because each time I see it I feel more and more vulnerable. “I’m Not That Girl” was interpreted as sad the first 3 times, but sometimes between the third and fourth time, I was able to interpret that song as heartbreaking thanks to “On My Own”. “No Good Deed” was always a song I never looked forward to, but the portrayal I saw the fourth time, I finally found appreciation and finally picked up on its emotions. So, the emotions in Wicked have changed a lot over the years and so has my relationship with Elphaba.

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Another meaningful musical is Les Mis. Les Mis showed me a side of musicals I always thought was impossible. Growing up, I was well aware of love, excitement, joy, and sad. I thought I knew the emotional world of musicals. My journey with Les Mis started when I saw the movie in December of 2012. But Les Mis showed me that musical emotions are way more than I once believed. I was able to discover heartbreak for the first time and was able to find real beauty in that musical. I even believed tragedies were impossible in the world of musicals, but Les Mis is a tragedy. I got the chance to see the show in the West End two years ago over the summer and that was my dream.

As far as the characters go, I have a strong emotional connection. It is home to some of the best musical characters. It has the compassionate and ex-convict Jean Valjean, the obsessive and strict Javert, the heartbreaking and loving Fantine, the innocent and curious Cosette, the revolutionary and romantic Marius, the brave and loyal Eponine, the courageous and passionate Enjolras and students, the heroic Gavroche, the funny and despicable Thenardiers.

With Les Mis, I was able to explore musicals deeper than ever before. I realized it was easier to find negative emotions and darkness in other musicals. I learned to dig deeper because I was trying to find the answer as to why such a heartbreaking musical is very uplifting and inspirational. I was able to discover that it is a story of sacrifice, humanity, compassion, hope, love, forgiveness, and redemption. Les Mis made me look at musicals fresh and made me explore musical emotions in a very different way.

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Another meaningful musical of the more recent years is Rent. That musical taught me the importance of living the moment and the importance of measuring your life in love. It showed me just how precious life is. Like Les Mis, the musical is sad as well, but there is so much more to it than what initially meets the eye. The relationship found among the friends is like this one big family.

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Newsies is another recent meaningful musical and is also the newest meaningful musical of my life. I saw it in August and I was emotionally connected in the very first scene. I just fell in love with the close bond between Crutchie and Jack. I also fell in love with the relationship between all the Newsies. Their story is inspiring of how they stood up for what they believed in when Pulitizer raised the price of the distribution papers. They fought back and went up against him. It showed me the importance of courage and that “courage cannot erase our fear. courage is when we face our fear”.

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Annie and Sound of Music are two childhood meaningful musicals. They have been part of my life for longer than Wicked. I cannot fully explain why these two musicals are meaningful. They are meaningful in the sense that they have been a huge part of my musical journey. I loved both of those musicals in elementary school. Starting to see musicals at such a young has been beneficial to becoming the musical fanatic I am today.

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In your opinion, what makes a musical meaningful?

Importance of Family in Musicals

I have seen various different kinds of families found in musicals over the years. Some are biological while some are not. This post is only going to focus on loving families and not any kind of broken or dysfunctional families.

First up is the family from Sound of Music. I love this family even though the Captain is very strict and runs his house like he is Captain of the navy or something like that. Maria helps the children and the Captain so much. By teaching the children to sing, Maria makes the family feel whole again. It make the house full of music. To me, the two most core things about Sound of Music are music and family.

Major Spoilers:

Next up is the relationship between Valjean and Cosette. Yes, this family isn’t biological, but yet the two still make up a family. Valjean had to end up taking care of Cosette in the most unexpected of ways. Her mother, Fantine, was fired from Valjean’s factory after the foreman discovered that she had an illegitimate child. She soon had to turn to prostitution and she blames Valjean for why she was fired because after all it was his factory. Well, Javert was about to arrest Fantine because she attacked a man even though it was self-defense. Valjean intervened and prevented her from being arrested and demanded she be sent to a hospital. As Fantine was dying, Valjean promised to her that he would raise Cosette as his own.

So Valjean became father to Cosette in the most unexpected of ways. He learned that Cosette was quite a broken child because he learned she was being terribly abused by the Thenardiers. He rescued her from that life and became a loving father towards her. It can be tough raising Cosette because he is an ex-convict always on the run from Javert. He even is willing to sacrifice his happiness for the sake of Cosette’s and that is why he rescues Marius from the barricade due to his daughter loving him. It is hard for Valjean to let Cosette go because she is the main happiness in his life.

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There is another incredible family in Les Mis. I find the relationship between all of the students like this kind of family. They are like brothers and literally take in Gavroche. They become like Gavroche’s family. In this group of friends, Enjolras is the leader. This is a political group in Les Mis and they planning an uprising to stand up for what they believe in due to a weak government. They stay so passionate towards the cause and stay hopeful.

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Thinking of the students from Les Mis, they can remind me of the family found among all the Newsies. They are like this one big family with Jack Kelly being the leader. In a lot of ways, all they have in life is each other. Some of them are orphans while others are runaways or actually have a family. Davey and Les are the only ones in this batch of brothers in this group who actually have a family. When Pultizer raised the price of papers at the Newsies expense, they ended up going on strike to stand up for what they believe in.

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Another family I find in musicals is the relationship between the characters in Rent. Yes, another family that isn’t biological. The relationship found between Mark, Roger, Mimi, Maureen, Joanne, Collins, and Angel is an important one. They are literally this family in a lot of ways. They make the most of life even in the midst of fear due to the HIV/AIDS epidemic, which Mimi, Roger, Collins, and Angel are battling.

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Another family is found between Annie and Daddy Warbucks. He invites an orphan to stay at his house for a week for Christmas (Fourth of July in the movie). Annie ends up being the one selected. Later in the story, Daddy Warbucks eventually adopts Annie.

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While I brought up loving families that exist in the world of musicals, there is another important family that is part of the musical world. Well, it is my family as a matter of fact. I don’t just love musical due to the dance, spectacle, song, and emotion. It is also due to the fact that going to the theatre is something my family likes to do. Whether it is my entire family or only three of us or even a date with a parent, it is something I will always remember. It is an important piece of what my family likes to do. I saw Wicked with my dad and I saw Wicked (Broadway), Phantom of the Opera, Pippin, and Les Mis (West End) with my mom.

I grew up seeing musicals with my family. Growing up with musicals is a huge part of why I love musicals. Through the musicals I grew up with, I was able to learn what a musical can be capable of which ranges from spectacle to dance to song to four main emotions of excitement, love, joy, and sad to understanding the importance of emotional connection and comedy. All of that I discovered is still important in musicals today, but all of them expanded especially in the emotions thanks to discovering a fifth main emotion, which is heartbreak. Seeing musicals with my family will always be memories that I will cherish.

Musical Characters I Relate to

One unique thing about musicals is that you find characters you can relate to. This post will talk about musical characters I relate to: both stage and nonstage.

First up is Elphaba from Wicked. Out of all musical characters, I relate to her the most. Like me, she is smart, determined, talkative, unique, big-hearted and believes in equality and staying true to herself. Another thing that I relate to her is her friendship with Glinda. Because I relate to her so much, I have the most personal relationship with her and she is my favorite musical character. She is one of the biggest reasons why Wicked has become meaningful.

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Next up is Annie from Annie. Just like her, I am optimistic.

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I relate to Anna from Frozen. I have a very outgoing personality as well and am funny. Sometimes like Anna, I act before I think. This sounds crazy, but Anna reminds me of Glinda.

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I feel like I can relate to Belle from Beauty and the Beast. I love to read especially mysteries, classics, fantasies, and mythology. Just like Belle, I am caring and capable of seeing who someone is beyond what they look like.

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There are some characters where I can only relate to a small piece of then. I can relate in some way to Jean Valjean’s strong spirituality. Ever since high school, I have always been known I have a strong spirit.

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What are some musical characters you relate to?

Importance of Emotional Connections in Musicals

In my opinion, the most important part of a musical experience is the emotional connection. This will be a very difficult thing to write about. I understand the importance, but it is so hard to describe. Having an emotional connection is key to having a positive experience and is key for a musical to become meaningful.

All of the musicals that are meaningful to me consist of an emotional connection. Musicals like Sound of Music, Annie, Newsies, Wicked, Les Mis, and Rent all have an emotional connection for me. Their emotional connections are very different. They each have something that I emotionally connect to.

In Annie, I have an emotional connection to Annie due to her optimism  and in Wicked, I have an emotional connection mainly to Elphaba and her friendship with Glinda and out of all musical characters, I have the most personal relationship with Elphaba. In Sound of Music, I have an emotional connection to its theme of family. In Les Mis, I have an emotional connection the its spiritual undertone and have a deep connection to those living in poverty. In Newsies, I have an intimate emotional connection to the relationship between Jack Kelly and Crutchie and I have an emotional connection to the relationship between all of the Newsies. In Rent, I have an emotional connection to the relationship found among the friends.

I started to understand the emotional connection of musicals through Wicked. I was twelve at the time and I was the right age to pick up on something like that. Out of all characters, I emotionally connected the best to Elphaba and eventually found myself falling in love with Fiyero and Glinda. Wicked was how I began to have an understanding of the negative emotions.

The best way to explain an emotional connection is to look at negative emotions. Naturally, it would seem like you don’t want to feel to feel them because they hurt. But, if you have an emotional connection, feeling those emotions become worth it. You don’t want to feel the negative emotions in a way that gives you a negative experience. You want them to feel like you are receiving a positive experience.  Just like the positive emotions, the negative emotions are worth it. It’s just the emotional connection gives meaning to the negative emotions and makes it worth feeling negative emotions. Without an emotional connection, the negative emotions will just feel bland and even pointless and will affect you in a very negative way.

All of the musicals that have at least one full song that is sad, it is worth it. The characters who experience conflict in their lives and who are more complex are more likely to express those emotions through song. They are the ones that are the easiest to care for. You learn to sympathize or emphasize with him. The sad songs, which typically are heartbreakers, are just these beautiful, fragile, and vulnerable songs. Before knowing about heartbreak, sad songs were so different and I honestly don’t quite remember what sad was like.

But I can use Wicked to trace it back to what it was. “I’m Not That Girl” wasn’t even a heartbreaker, but instead just a sad song and “No Good” was strongly disliked and seemed emotionless. That is the best way to describe the negative emotions before discovering heartbreak.

What do you think is the importance of having an emotional connection in a musical?

Tomorrow’s post will be about musical characters I relate to since today talked about emotional connections.