May 2020 in Review

As it is finally June, it is time of my month of review. What were some of my highlights.

For Starters

I once again had to find another postponement for a musical that I strongly wanted to see this year. Now, Frozen, the musical I wanted to see the most got postponed. That honestly made no sense- that musical is coming in October, and it was only May when they decided to postpone it. Plus, I found out that Tootsie, a musical coming in November, was postponed as well. Discovering that Tootsie was postponed, it did make me nervous about Wicked due to Tootsie happening a month before Wicked.

Highlights

Disney Sing A-Long (V2)- they decided to do another. It was a different collection of songs. They did this on Mother’s Day- there were three songs that related to that: “You’ll being My heart”, “Baby Mine”, and “Your Mother and Mine”. That entire collection was dedicated to mothers- it even included the Zootopia Theme Song, Beauty and the Beast and, Remember Me, and A Whole New World. At least that happened.

CATS- This time around, I saw the filmed stage show. It is such a fun and enjoyable musical to watch. Even though it basically has no plot, there are still characters to love and dance to love. This is one of the simple musicals that has a heartbreaking song in it- “Memory” and the others are fun, exciting, and once there even was a scary one in a way (“Macavity”).

Blumenthal Highlight- They decided to add a new musical to its 20/21 season. Hadestown was added to the mix. Hadestown was a musical I have been fascinated by since it swept the Tonys of 2019. Due to the tour coming next October, there could be a strong enough chance it will not be postponed.

Relearning Les Mis- back in Fall 2014 and Summer 2015, I learned how to play Les Mis on the piano. I would always play them each time I got back from GWU. However, once I graduated, I took a long break from playing them. Now, I am so out of practice, meaning I would have to relearn how to play them.

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?

Heartbreaking Songs

To continue on yesterday’s heartbreaking love songs, today I thought I would talk about ALL heartbreaking songs. I was 100% blind to heartbreak before my first year of college, but I did know about the emotion of sad. So at least I knew about sad- one of the emotions part of heartbreak. Heartbreak is basically a more devastating form of sad. What are the other emotions associated with heartbreak? The ones I have found are anger, guilt, and loneliness among others. Heartbreak can hit you like a pile of breaks and can reduce you to tears. So now here is a list of the heartbreaking musical theatre songs.

  1. I’m Not That Girl 
  2. On My Own 
  3. I Dreamed a Dream 
  4. Come to Me 
  5. Empty Chairs at Empty Tables 
  6. Drink With Me 
  7. A Little Fall of Rain 
  8. Bring Him Home
  9. All I Ask Of You (Reprise)
  10. Wishing You Were Somehow Here Again 
  11. If I Can’t Love Her 
  12. If I Can’t Love Her (Reprise) 
  13. Evermore 
  14. Endless Night 
  15. Letter From the Refuge
  16. This Nearly Was Mine 
  17. Somewhere
  18. Will I
  19. Your Eyes 
  20. Without You 
  21. Memory
  22. As Long As He Needs Me

These heartbreaking songs come from a number of musicals- Wicked, Newsies, Les Mis, Lion King, West Side Story, Beauty and the Beast, Rent, and Cats. Some of these songs are more devastating than others. Some of them hit me harder than others. Some hit me like a pile of bricks, and some don’t. Some of them make me tear up while others don’t.  Heartbreak is one of the most beautiful emotions in musical theatre and one of the strongest. 

Heartbreaking Love Songs

If a musical theatre song is both a love and sad song, it will ALWAYS be heartbreaking. That is always the truth- that’s for sure. These songs can be ironic or non-ironic. Those songs fall under unrequited love songs, breakup songs, or if the plot is a tragic love story. What are examples of these songs? Below I will list some of those songs. 

  1. I’m Not That Girl/ I’m Not That Girl (Reprise)
  2. On My Own 
  3. Somewhere 
  4. As Long As He Needs Me 
  5. This Nearly Was Mine 
  6. If I Can’t Love Her/ If I Can’t Love Her (Reprise) 
  7. Evermore
  8. All I Ask Of You (Reprise) 

I’m Not That Girl was the FIRST heartbreaking love song I was emotionally connected to, but was sad in the beginning. I never called I’m Not That Girl a sad love song- I never combined emotions together- I called it sad. On My Own, just like I’m Not That Girl, began as a sad song, but after a year I realized it was heartbreaking- On My Own was key to realizing I’m Not That Girl was heartbreaking. As a matter of fact, On My Own made me realize all sad love songs were heartbreaking. The heartbreaking love songs have a combination of emotions- they can be home to sad, anger, and loneliness: it depends on the song and the actor and actress who is playing the character. Some of those heartbreaking love songs are much more heartbreaking than others: for instance, On My Own is more heartbreaking than I’m Not That Girl. 

Spoilers: 

It sounds crazy how some of them are ironic- that means the love situation improves in the end or you don’t expect the character to sing it. I’m Not That Girl is the best example- after all the unrequited love shifts from Elphaba to Glinda, which is why the song is sung twice. In addition, the spell gets broken in Beauty and the Beast, which makes If I Can’t Love Her/ If I Can’t Love Her (Reprise), and Evermore ironic. The same situation happens with This Nearly Was Mine because Nellie goes back to Emelie in the end. 

Non ironic- that means the situation NEVER improves in the end. That would mean that character might have unrequited love the entire time. In Les Mis, Eponine has unrequited love for Marius till the end of her journey in Les Mis- she does have a tragic ending, but at the same time, her fate is touching and moving and is home to joy. Eponine’s fate is death, but she gets to die in the arms of Marius after getting shot- that is where the joy comes from. So On My Own is not ironic at all. So the heartbreaking love songs are both ironic and non-ironic. 

The heartbreaking love songs are some of the most beautiful songs in musical theatre. They are fragile, vulnerable, and some of them are home to innocence. It just depends on the character and how much they love the person they are in love with at that point in the story. 

Parallels that Exist in Musicals

These sort of things exist in the musical world. They are called parallels. What are some examples?

Wicked/ Les Mis

–  Elphaba/ Eponine- both have broken family lives, taken advantage of, part of a love triangle and deal with unrequited love (however the result is different)

-“On My Own”/ “I’m Not That Girl”- while on the topic of Eponine and Elphaba, I want to say the parallel between these two songs. Both are unrequited love songs. “On My Own” helped me understand “I’m Not That Girl” was a heartbreaking song.

– Fiyero/ Enjolras- this is weird. I don’t get it- for some reason, I think there might be a parallel between these two characters. Three of my Enjolras’ have played Fiyero either before or after they played Enjolras.

 

Les Mis/ Newsies

Newsies/ Friends of the ABC- they both share a similar brotherly love, and have a passion and hope for a cause they truly believe in

Jack Kelly/ Enjolras- they both are leaders of they group they are part of, but what they care about the most is different.

 

Wicked/ Frozen 

Elphaba/ Elsa- both girls are misunderstood, believed to be monsters, and have powers they don’t know how to control

Glinda/ Anna- they both are outgoing and funny

Friendship/ Sisterhood- I see the center core of each storyline being quite similar

“Let it Go”/ “Defying Gravity”- I feel like these songs are very similar in many ways

  • I wonder if these parallels are why I was drawn to Frozen as much as I was. After all Wicked sparked my love for musicals

 

Les Mis/ Cats 

“I Dreamed a Dream”/ “Memory”- both songs reflect on the past and how worse Fantine’s and Grizzabella’s life has gotten. Just like how “On My Own” helped “I’m Not That Girl”, “I Dreamed a Dream” made me realize “Memory” was a heartbreaking song.

 

What are other parallels? I think musicals do help you understand parts of other musicals at times.