My Vision of Musicals

Everyone has a vision of what they want from a vision.  My vision of musicals was created while I was growing up. I grew up watching movie musicals like Aladdin, Beauty and the Beast, Lion King, Grease, Sound of Music, and Annie. I even grew up seeing musicals in the theatre and those musicals included things like Lion King, Beauty and the Beast, and Wicked. So below I will take about what I expect from a musical.

First things first is the songs. I want to be connected to the songs. The songs are key to any musical. I want to love the songs. The main emotions come through the songs. I want songs to be memorable and emotional. I want the songs to feel like they belong in the musical they are in. Growing up, there was one type of song that I commonly associated with musical and those are the songs that tend to start out slow and eventually slow up. I even look for love songs and sad songs.

Next thing belongs to the characters. No matter what they are going through, I want to care about their journeys. The characters make me love the songs even more. Just like the songs, I want the characters to be memorable. I want the characters to be complex and strong. I want the characters to feel real. I also look for relatability, but I can’t relate to the character, I look for something that makes them stand out.

Next thing belongs to the plot. Just like the characters, I want the plot to be complex, strong, and relatable. I tend to look for multiple storylines. I want there to be a certain amount of conflict. Conflict plays a key role in the emotions. Conflict affects whether or not the songs have just positive emotions or if the songs have a combination of positive and negative emotions.

When it comes to all three, I want to be emotionally connected. I want my emotional connection to strong enough to truly care about the different character’s emotions. When it comes to the negative emotions, I want those songs to have vulnerability, fragility, and beauty. I only can seem to love feeling the negative emotions if my emotional connection to the songs, characters, and story are strong enough.

Another part of my vision has to do with comedy. Growing up, I wanted a musical to be happy or a comedy itself. Now that I am older and know that tragic musicals exist, I look at the aspect of comedy very differently. I want some comic aspect in a musical.

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My vision also includes spectacle and dance. Just like songs, the spectacle and dance add to the experience. Dance in my opinion is an example of spectacle. Those two elements make an experience unique. Sometimes spectacle helps with believability because they can help you believe in settings such as the land of OZ, an enchanted castle, or the wilds of Africa. But not all musicals have spectacle and dance.

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Overall, what I am really looking for is the emotional connection. Recently I discovered that I can still fall in love with a musical without the dance or spectacle. When that happens, I want the emotional connection to be strong enough to make up for the loss of spectacle and dance. So the emotional connection is really the key to falling in love with a musical. So what I want really is a strong score, memorable and complex characters, and a complex and strong plot. However, spectacle and dance is still part of my vision when it comes to musicals.

Some of the best plots and songs tend to be quite powerful. I want the positive and negative emotions to be a part of the show. It sounds crazy that I want to feel the negative emotions in the songs, but it really works even though they can hurt. I tend to love the negative emotions the most when they are beyond the mild world.

What is your vision of a musical?

Little Shop of Horrors Review

This weekend, I have been busy house managing my college’s production of Little Shop of Horrors. The first two nights during the show, I sat in the lobby just listening to the show. From those two nights, I could tell it was a well-done production due to how incredible the singing voices sounded. But last night, actually watched the entire production and I throughly enjoyed it.

Before watching it, I knew about the characters of Seymour and Audrey. I also heard the songs “Little Shop of Horrors”, “Skid Row”, “Grow for Me”, “Somewhere That’s Green”, and “Suddenly Seymour”. I knew that it dealt with a man eating plant and I also knew that this production used four different puppets when it came to the plant.

Possible Spoilers:

The opening of Little Shop of Horrors drew me in right away. Those three singers who open up the show were incredible. Those three had to sound perfect together and in a lot of ways, those characters were sort of like the narrators of the production. The set was very effective and just wonderful.

The cast in this production was incredible. I especially loved the actors who played Audrey and Seymour. They were a wonderful pairing and especially loved during “Suddenly Seymour”. Audrey and Seymour are actually my favorite characters in Little Shop of Horrors. Seymour and Audrey work at Mr.Mushnik’s  Floral Shop and Seymour has a crush on Audrey. “Suddenly Seymour” is the love duet between the two characters and it also is my favorite song from the show.

Orin was very convincing. This is one of the characters that I don’t like. I just don’t like how he treats Audrey and is quite abusive when it comes to her. I even don’t like how he works as a dentist. But, I still loved the acting and singing coming from him.

I loved what the actual plant looked like even though I didn’t love that plant as a character. Its taste for blood and human flesh is bizarre. The most bizarre on-stage deaths I have seen have come from being eaten by this extremely manipulative and very rude plant. In this production, the plant ate Orin, Mr. Mushnik, Audrey, and Seymour. All of the leads were eaten by this plant. Coming in, I basically knew the plant was going eat all of these characters, but that is part of the “fun” of this musical.  I was the least affected by the deaths of Orin and Mr. Mushink. But it was the deaths of Audrey and Seymour that affected me the most because they were my favorite characters. l literally wanted to cry at the death of Audrey. Seymour saw her being eaten by the plant and pulled her out, but she was mortally wounded thanks to the plant. She got to die in the arms of Seymour and I literally had the urge to tear up at that scene. That plant was so particular about what it ate.

Loved seeing how it grew over time. The plant is the reason why the floral shop has had a lot of success. But the voice of the plant was extremely incredible and quite convincing

So overall Little Shop of Horrors is a horror comedy. It was throughly enjoyable. The acting and singing was incredible. It was such an enjoyable experience and loved the choreography. The production picked some of the best puppets for the plant. While Little Shop of Horrors is not a favorite musical of mine, I still think it is a good show. This was actually the first time I ever fully experienced this musical.

My Special Love of Wicked and Les Mis

My top two favorite musicals are Wicked and Les Mis. Each of them are two very special musicals in my life. I even cannot pick which one is better considering how severely different they are from each other. Wicked is the powerful and emotional story of friendship between Glinda and Elphaba and is filled with spectacle/dance and also a musical comedy. On the other hand, Les Mis is the powerful, heartbreaking, epic, inspirational musical tragedy.

Wicked

Favorite songs: Popular (was my favorite song from the show when I was 12), For Good, Dancing Through Life, What is This Feeling, Wizard and I, As Long as Your’e Mine, I’m Not That Girl 

Favorite character: Elphaba (due to how much I relate to her)

Favorite costume: Elphaba’s act 2 black dress

Favorite cast: January 2016 Touring US Production with Mary Kate Morrissey as Elphaba

Why it’s my favorite: The magic, the fantasy, the dance/spectacle, the vulnerable and special and emotional connection to Elphaba-relate to this character so much, the powerful story of friendship and acceptance

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Les Mis

Favorite songs: On My Own, I Dreamed a Dream, A Little Fall of Rain, Bring Him Home, Look Down (Prologue), Look Down (Paris), Drink With Me, Stars, One Day More, What Have I Done

Favorite characters: Eponine, Jean Valjean, Enjolras, Young Cosette, Gavroche, Barricade Boys, Fantine

Favorite costume: No idea

Favorite cast: Summer 2015 West End Cast with Adam Bayjou as Valjean

Why it’s my favorite: the sheer power and brilliance of the songs, the incredible depth of the storyline and characters, the emotional and strong emotional roller coaster, the way the heartbreaking and inspirational natures interlock together 

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List of Happy Musicals

This is a list of happy musicals. From experience, I am fully aware that most musicals are happy. This list includes shows I have seen either by movie or stage and shows that I haven’t experienced at all.

  1. Wicked
  2. Wizard of OZ
  3. Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory
  4. Music Man
  5. Pippin
  6. Sound of Music
  7. Annie
  8. Seven Brides For Seven Brothers
  9. Singing in the Rain
  10. Hairspray
  11. Mamma Mia
  12. Cats
  13. South Pacific
  14. Oklahoma
  15. Annie Get Your Gun
  16. Newsies
  17. Lion King
  18. Beauty and the Beast
  19. Aladdin
  20. Little Mermaid
  21. My Fair Lady
  22. Mary Poppins
  23. Meet Me in St. Louis
  24. Easter Parade
  25. Man of La Mancha
  26. Fiddler on the Roof
  27. Grease
  28. White Christmas
  29. Godspell
  30. Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat
  31. White Christmas
  32. Kiss Me Kate
  33. Bye Bye Birdie
  34. An American in Paris
  35. Anything Goes
  36. Funny Girl
  37. A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum
  38. Guys and Dolls
  39. Kinky Boots
  40. Throughly Modern Millie
  41. Fantastiks

Tragedy and Comedy in Theatre

It is fascinating how comedy and tragedy create the framework for theatre. The interesting thing is that they are portrayed quite differently in operas, plays, and musicals. Yes, the genres use the exact same requirements, but still severely different.

In a play, tragedies and comedies only use words. That is all they rely on when it comes to the emotions. For me, it is difficult to embrace and endure the emotions. That is especially true in the tragedies. When I saw Trojan Women, a Greek tragedy, it was a bit odd because that show is almost 2500 years old. The chorus aspect was so unusual and odd. But just like the modern tragic plays, it still has some of the same requirements despite some differences. Tragedies are meant for the audience to experience pity and fear. Plays give me this kind of disconnect from the characters even if the acting is believable. As for the comedies, they are just funny and entertaining. That is it and the disconnect still exists for me.

Operas were built around tragedy. Adding song changes the whole experience. There is just something about song makes it easier to endure and embrace emotions. The singing style is the most complex. The lyrics are sung in a foreign language and as a result, it requires the use of subtitles. That is why it useful to look up the show ahead of time. Operas are famous for their extremely long death scenes.

Musicals are what I feel the most connected to. They give me the best experiences because I love musicals the most out of types of theatre. I can relate or connect to the characters very easily due to the songs. Musicals were built around comedy. Most of them are in fact happy. Some of the happy musicals do have tragic and dark elements along with negative emotions.The songs make the most sense in a musical because they are always translated. Musicals always originate in the language of English. This genre is also home to dance and spectacle, which helps tell the story and helps the setting become believable. Just like operas and plays, musicals are home to tragedies as well. The tragic musicals are newer, but they are essential to the world of musicals. By seeing the emotions through the perspective of both comedies and tragedies, it makes you truly understand them. You are able to truly understand how the negative and positive emotions come together to form one plot. It is the musicals that I have the most experience with and I spent my entire life with the comic and happy musicals.

The trick with musicals and operas is that they are very similar. The difference is that operas are built around tragedy while musicals are built around comedy. That explains why the death scenes take longer in an opera compared to a musical. The singing style is drastically different. The singing style is easier to understand in a musical. Musicals have easily memorable melodies and the songs are sung in the language of the country.

 

Circus of Pippin

This word reminds me of when I saw “Pippin” last year with my mom. It is a Stephen Swartz musical comedy and he also wrote Godspell and Wicked. It is about a young prince named Pippin who wants to find his “corner of the sky”.The song, “Corner of the Sky” is about what Pippin wants most in life, which is figuring out where he is meant to be.

Pippin fits in the idea of circus because it has circus elements. That adds a fun amount of spectacle to the experience. I saw people on the trapeze, balancing acts, flips, juggling, illusions and more. During the song “No Time At All”, the audience was allowed to sing along to the chorus. I loved the show because its music and plot was so good. Even the costumes were amazing and they fit the idea of circus nicely. My favorite scene was “Magic to Do” and my favorite song was “Corner of the Sky”.IMG_0316.JPG

This musical ended up one of the meaningful musicals of my life.

Circus

Surprising Things about Musicals

The musical world is full of things that I never thought would exist in a musical. Some of them were not quite as shocking as others. I responded to each of those things differently than some others. I developed a vision for what a musical should be like growing up which is a comedy full of innocence, spectacle, dance, color, fun sets and costumes, and positive and negative emotions. That was all that I had known, but now that I am older, musicals have gained some shocking things.

The first one is that sad musicals actually exist. I am still not fully used to this fact yet especially because they were not with me since the beginning. The crazy thing about this is that it seems as if I should have figured this out in high school because that was when I found out about at least two sad musicals, but crazily enough it did not cross my mind that they actually would end up being tragic. However the sad shows were beneficial to the happy musicals. It gave them a bigger vulnerability and it gave me a new perspective on musicals.

I remember back in 2012, I started listening to songs from “Rent” through Pandora and fell in love without realizing it would turn out to be a sad show and I figured that out in 2013 after listening to the songs a good amount of times. “Rent” was not the most shocking musical regarding the sad musicals especially because I fell in love with it through the songs.

I first heard about “Les Mis” in 2009 with the famous Susan Boyle “I Dreamed a Dream” thing and I had no idea what the title meant or what that song was about. I went to see the movie in December of 2012 without knowing it was going to be so tragic. I realized it was tragic right after the first death and I did not know how to cope and my mind went into shock and that emotion covered up the rest of the emotions. By the end of the movie, I was thinking “did I just like a tragedy?” I could not tell whether or not I actually liked it, but for some odd reason I went straight to researching the musical and decided to give the movie one more chance. At least the second time was easier, which made me fell the emotions on a deeper way. By that point, I already have listened to the songs a couple of times on Pandora and have already looked up information about the time period. “Les Mis” was the musical that taught me that there is more to tragedy than sadness. But than again, most musicals are happy.

There is more than one thing about “Les Mis” that is surprising to the world of musicals. One of them is what some of the songs are about and I was shocked to discover that some musical songs are about death and I did learn to love the death scenes. It introduced me to musical emotions I never thought would actually exist which includes uncomfortable. “Les Mis” has been so meaningful because of what it is taught me and what it has helped me overcome. “Les Mis” teaches you how you can raise above your background and how to stand up for what you believe in. It teaches how to thrive in difficult situations.This musical was a shocker turned inspiration. The fact is each time I see the musical, it becomes more inspirational and becomes less sad. I see it as a story about humanity, hope, sacrifice, love,  compassion, forgiveness, and redemption even though it still has multiple deaths and lots of suffering. It shows what it means to be human and shows a strong vulnerability.

Another surprising thing about musicals is that there is a tragicomic character. He is Don Quixote from “Man of La Mancha”. I discovered that last year and I was trying to figure out how a character can be both. I had to look up what it means to be tragic and what it means to be comic. The main reason why this character is important is because he is tragicomic.

Sometimes a musical can be similar to what you were used to growing up, but adds a new layer to the same image. For instance, in Pippin it has a circus element, which allows the cast to break the fourth wall. You see people on the trapeze, flipping, balancing acts, and juggling. It also allows you to sing-along to one of the songs. In that song, they put the words up to the chorus. That is a kind of spectacle I never associated with musicals.

Musicals continue to surprise me and I know shocking things will continue to happen in the future. But I still have the same view I had growing up. By using the view I had growing up, I am able to know if I discover something I never would of thought about. Because I developed a passion for musicals in college, I am having more fun discovering what I musical is capable of. That is a big reason why I love musicals. Because the characters can range from comic, dramatic, romantic, tragi-romantic, tragicomic, and tragic, it is difficult to interpret all of them. I said tragi-romantic to refer to the romantic character in tragic love stories, which includes a tragic love story in a musical comedy. The characters also live in different places in different times, have different personalities, and different lives. There is something more fun about discovering the emotional and vulnerable characters and these characters tend to be multi-layered. Also the shows with these characters always have sources of light and dark.