Why I love Simple and Complex Musical Characters

The past two days, I talked about what makes a character simple and what makes a character complex. I do love characters that are both simple and complex. Why do I exactly love both of those sets of characters.

Just like simple and complex plots balance things out, the same applies to the simple and complex characters. Some of the musical characters I love are Annie, Crutchie, Winthrop, Elphaba, Glinda, Fiyero, Young Cosette, Eponine, Enjolras, Fantine, Jean Valjean, Gavrcohe, Jack Kelly and Maria (Sound of Music). This list consists of both simple and complex musical characters. All of them just have something about them that makes me fall in love with them.

It can be hard to describe why I love simple and complex characters. Some of the characters I love are characters I can actually relate to and some I don’t. Annie is a simple character, but it is her optimism that makes me love her. In the complex characters, they tend to be more well-rounded and it can be enjoyable to get to know them.

You think you might know them, but then you realize there is more to them than what meets the eye. For instance, Jean Valjean is one of my favorite complex characters due to the spiritual journey he goes through and how he responds to his moral dilemmas. Up until the bishop scene, you would think he would stay a thief, but through an act of kindness, compassion, and forgiveness, he starts his life fresh.

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All of the characters I love are just incredible characters. It can be hard to describe what makes a good character. Naturally I would be more drawn to the more complex characters because they feel the most real and are the most fascinating to get to know.

Some of these complex characters have an incredible relatability like Elphaba for instance. Out of all musical characters, I relate to her the most. She is smart, determined, talkative, big-hearted, different and believes in equality and staying true to her self. I admire the strength and courage that she shows. Out of all the Wicked characters, she is the character I am the most familiar with and I understand her the most. I love her relationship to Glinda and her relationship to Fiyero. Even though she is misunderstood, she still has an incredible purpose in life.

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As for the simple characters, I can relate to Annie due to her optimism. Just like Annie, Young Cosette also has hope. Young Cosette is so hopeful and despite being horribly abused by the Thenardiers, she gets through it through the fantasies she creates. She constantly has hope that she will eventually get rescued. She eventually gets rescued by Jean Valjean. In my opinion, Young Cosette is more complex than Annie is.

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A good characters is a character where you can find something special about them and sometimes you are surprised by how they respond to their current situation. Eponine for instance may have been raised to be a criminal and is terribly abused,  but it is surprising that she somehow doesn’t fully develop her parent’s wicked ways which might have something to do with Marius. Another unique thing about Eponine is that she does anything for Marius despite her love for him being unrequited and he gives her a purpose in life and gives her some kind of light in the midst of the darkness she is always surrounded by.

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Fantine is a character that isn’t tragic by a tragic flaw. Her downfall was caused by society. I love how despite how horrible and tragic Fantine’s life, she does everything for the sake of Cosette. Even though she does everything for the sake of her daughter, she has no idea that her daughter is currently being terribly abused. She never stops thinking of her little girl and she trusted Valjean to raise her daughter as his own and he does.

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Than there are Jack Kelly and Crutchie from Newsies. The thing I love about Jack is how he is protective of Crutchie and truly cares about his brothers. He is a dreamer who is always dreaming of going to Santa Fe. I love exploring the inner conflict he eventually goes through. Crutchie is a wonderful character and despite having a bum leg, he does not think twice about it. He is just a character you can easily get to love.

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Sometimes I end up questioning complex characters and that is what can make them interesting. It is not just relatability that makes me fall in love with a character, but if its a character I cannot relate to,  I end up loving them due to how they respond. It also has something to do with their songs.

Still I honestly don’t have a good idea of why I love both simple and complex characters. I gave a few examples to explain why I love some of these characters, but it can be harder to describe why you love a character when you don’t even relate to them.

What Makes a Musical Character Complex?

Just like there are complex and simple musical plots, there are also simple and complex characters. But what exactly makes a character complex?

It was Wicked that made me start to understand the complexity and emotional side of musicals. Elphaba and Glinda were the first two characters I was able to call complex especially Elphaba.

I think a complex character has a lot to them. They tend to have some kind of inner conflict in their lives. There tends to be a lot to them and feel so well-rounded and feel well real to me. They are characters who tend to express negative emotions due to all of the conflict that is  happening in their lives.

Some memorable complex musical characters include Elphaba, Glinda,  Eponine, Javert, Jean Valjean, Fiyero (doesn’t seem complex, but now he does), Jack Kelly, Grizabella (yes I just included a cat) and yes there are more, but just can’t think of them at this moment.

Complex characters are the ones that are more fascinating. The complex characters are always in complex plots. Some of these characters don’t seem complex, but they are. Grizabella might seem simple in a way because she is a cat, but still she is complex. That is due to the fact that she is a heartbreaking and tragic character and has to deal with a lot of conflict struggling to be welcomed back into the Jellicle tribe when she came back.

Elphaba is complex in many ways. She has this incredible relatable nature and there is a lot to this character. I keep on being surprised that I keep on adding things to this character. She deals with a lot of conflict and has to face serious discrimination. She is smart, determined, unique, talkative, big-hearted and believes in equality and staying true to herself. The most important part of Elphaba is her relationship with Glinda.

Glinda is complex because at first she just seems pure comical, but in the second act, she goes through a lot of conflict because she has to hear rumors being spread about Elphaba. She even has to put up the fact that Fiyero has broken up with her and now she has unrequited love for Fiyero since he left her for Elphaba.

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Fiyero is a character who doesn’t seem complex at all, but recently I began to realize the complexity of him. At first he is just this super rude and annoying Shiz student who doesn’t care about anything. His complexity comes from the love triangle. I keep on questioning him. Did he have a crush on Elphaba without realizing it? I saw signs of that possibility right before “I’m Not That Girl” and after the lion cub incident. Or did he know, but just didn’t tell anybody? Or was he only friends with Elphaba, but didn’t develop a crush or fall in love with her till later? I keep on questioning this because he eventually ends up with Elphaba. For me, I really think he had a crush on Elphaba in act I, but had no clue. He eventually realized it when he heard the rumors spread about Elphaba and could not believe Glinda was supporting all of this and so he decided to break up with her.

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Jack Kelly is complex in my opinion. He is very well-rounded and in the musical, he has a hobby of drawing and is very talented at it. He is also the leader of the rest of the Newsies and is quite protective of his brothers especially Crutchie. He eventually goes through a lot of inner conflict after this big fight breaks out.

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Jean Valjean is quite a complex character. He is the main character of Les Mis. He has to live his life as an ex-convict. He faces many moral dilemmas. He does his best to live by the example the bishop taught him. There is just so much to him. It must be challenging being an ex-convict and having to raise Cosette. True, Valjean shelters and protects Cosette a lot, but I don’t blame him. He is an ex-convict trying not to be sent back to jail because he knows Javert wants to.

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Than there’s Javert. He was a character I honestly didn’t want to get to know. I am not an antagonistic fan person. I eventually noticed the complexity of him. I didn’t even care about him or even his fate. Before seeing the show in the West End, Javert didn’t even matter. I saw three Javerts through the movie, 25th anniversary concert film, and the community college, but none of them made me care about Javert. In the West End, I feel like I finally saw Javert for the first time and I finally cared for him during the suicide scene. Javert only sees the world in black and white and is incapable of showing mercy, love, or forgiveness. His main focus it to recapture Valjean. He takes his job to the extreme and follows the law too strictly.

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Eponine is another complex character in Les Mis. You first meet her in 1823 when she was just eight. Through the way the Thenardiers treat Cosette and through realizing they are pickpockets during “Castle on a Cloud” and “Master of the House”, you get an idea of the environment she is going to be growing up in.

Her real complexity shows when she becomes a teenager at age 17. Her life has gotten even worse because at first she was spoiled and appeared to be loved by her parents. But you soon realized that is not even true. She was raised to be a criminal and she is horribly abused, neglected, and lonely. But she is brave despite what she has deal with everyday. You got to understand Eponine’s life outside of Marius to understand why she loves him so much. He was the only source of light in her miserable life and that is a huge reason why she loves him. Yes, she had unrequited love for him, but she still shows true love and would do anything for him. Even though she knows Marius will never be hers, she continues to love him till the end of her story.

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In your opinion, what makes a musical character complex?

Dependability of Musicals

This is a very hard post to write. In my opinion, I feel like all musicals rely on each other. It is hard to exactly explain why, but as a musical fanatic I can understand that. Musicals do a wonderful job of balancing each other in the best way possible. The past couple of days, I needed to say I love both simple and complex musicals.

When it comes to the simple musicals, they are the ones where the emotional nature truly begins. Some of them honestly don’t have the need to even have those negative emotions because the plot is truly wonderful without them. Shows like Singing in The Rain are pure fun and you need to view them in a very entertaining way. These simple musicals even show traces of sad and heartbreak. Cats for instance is a very simple musical but the character of Grizabella is a very heartbreaking character and her song, Memory, is heartbreaking. That is the only instance as far as I know where an entire song is heartbreaking in a very simple musical.

The complex musicals are the musicals where the negative emotions are just natural. These are shows like Wicked, Newsies, Lion King, Phantom of the Opera and Les Mis. They all have to deal with songs that are either sad or even worse heartbreaking. All of the musicals I just listed have heartbreak in their songs.

Wicked has the bittersweet “For Good”, the heartbreaking and insightful “I’m Not That Girl” and the frustrating and angry “No Good Deed” and it is one of the happy musicals. Wicked is one way I can explain why musicals depend on each other. Wicked was how I started to understand the emotional nature of musicals. Before Wicked, I feel like musicals were more about the dance and spectacle instead of the emotions. One of the biggest reasons why I started to understand the emotional side of musicals in Wicked was because I was 12 so I was at the right age to have a better understanding of the emotions and it was the first musical I saw on Broadway.

Well fast forward to the time of Les Mis. Growing up, all musicals were happy and comedic and there were the four main emotions of excitement, love, joy, and sad. I didn’t even know what heartbreak meant for a musical. Les Mis comes along and tests me on the emotional knowledge that I had recently learned. It showed me that musicals have more emotional potential than I once believed. It was how I realized that there are heartbreaking songs in the world of musicals. For example, Les Mis has songs like On My Own, I Dreamed a Dream, Empty Chairs at Empty Tables, A Little Fall of Rain and Come to Me and all of those songs are heartbreakers.

Here is a perfect example of why musicals rely on each other. Look at I’m Not That Girl. It started out as being just a sad song, which stayed that way for seven years. I saw Wicked for the 3rd time in 2013 and that song still stayed just sad. Growing up, I spent more time on Wicked’s story of friendship over the youthful and complicated love triangle.

 I don’t remember when it was, but there was a time when I realized I’m Not That Girl and On My Own were both about unrequited love. At that time, I already knew On My Own was heartbreaking and through that connection, I was able to understand that I’m Not That Girl was heartbreaking. Even though both are unrequited love songs, they still vary in emotional strength, vulnerability and fragility.

In I’m Not That Girl, Elphaba just found out she loves Fiyero literally moments before she sings that song, which is why that song cannot be fully heartbreaking. I cannot be 100% vulnerable in that song or you lose the innocence that Elphaba has at that moment. Another reason it isn’t fully heartbreaking is because Elphaba’s story doesn’t revolve around unrequited love.

As in the case of On My Own, the love that Eponine has for Marius is so much stronger and even more heartbreaking than Elphaba’s situation. You have to understand why Eponine loves Marius so much in order to understand On My Own. Eponine is a Thenardier and she was raised in an abusive situation and was unloved and neglected by her parents. She was raised to be a criminal. In this burst of light, Marius entered Eponine’s life and was the only person who ever showed her kindness, which is a big reason why her unrequited love is so heartbreaking and painful. Through the example shown by these songs, it is a nice example of why all musicals depend on each other.

I feel like with Les Mis in my life, it makes it much easier to find the negative emotions in new musicals. I can spot darkness and negative emotions much quicker. I even can find negative emotions in the most unexpected of places. When you start finding parallels between certain songs, you can find a way to understand the song like in the case of I’m Not That Girl and On My Own. The dependability comes from the fact that musicals need to help balance each other out, which is why there needs to be both simple and complex musicals and why not all musicals have to put up with negative emotions.

Why do you think musicals rely on each other?

Why I Prefer Complex Musicals

I feel like in musicals the best musicals almost always tend to be the complex. The complex musicals are the ones that are the hardest to get to know. But why do I prefer the complex musicals?

In my opinion, the complex musicals are more well-rounded. They have a bigger amount of conflict and feel more real. They are the ones you must likely tend to have a lot of questions about. They also tend to have the more real plot lines and characters. I realized I preferred the complex musicals growing up. Sometimes it can take time to know if a musical is complex or not.

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Some examples of complex musicals are Les Mis, Wicked, Phantom of the Opera, Newsies, South Pacific, and Beauty and the Beast. The complex musicals are the ones that most likely tend to have some sad song in the mix. I am not talking about any song that has sad in it. I am talking about the songs that are entirely sad like “On My Own”, “I’m Not That Girl”, “Santa Fe” from Newsies and “This Nearly Was Mine”. That is due to how much conflict is involved. Some of my favorite complex characters are Elphaba, Glinda, Fiyero, Eponine and Jean Valjean.

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Complex musicals are the ones that most likely are going to change over time. They are the ones where the emotions tend to grow the most. They are the ones you must likely are gong to keep on discovering new things about the characters.

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As a matter of fact, they tend to have multiples storylines. Like in Les Mis, it has the main storyline of Jean Valjean and his quest for redemption with Javert trying to recapture Valjean, the tragic tale of Fantine,  the youthful love triangle between Marius, Cosette, and Eponine, and the student uprising. In Wicked, which is less complex than Les Mis, has the main overall storyline of the friendship between Elphaba and Glinda, and on top of that, which is related to the friendship between Elphaba and Glinda is the very complex and ironic love triangle between Glinda, Fiyero, and Elphaba and the plan of the Wizard making people believe that Elphaba is wicked.

Describing the complex musicals can be really challenging. Because the complex musicals are more likely to have the positive and negative emotions in their songs, they feel like the strongest of musicals and the most real. Les Mis for instance is a very strong musical and a very human story of hope, compassion, love, forgiveness, humanity, sacrifice, and redemption. That musical in my opinion is the most powerful and most inspirational. In the complex musicals, they feel more real and do find it easier to emotionally connect to the characters.

Wrap-up of Les Mis Character Analysis

Major Spoilers:

For the past couple of days I have been analyzing the Les Mis characters. The ones I analyzed are Jean Valjean (protagonist), Javert (antagonist), Fantine, Cosette, Marius, Eponine, the Thenardiers, Enjolras, the students, and Gavroche. These memorable characters are one of the biggest reasons why this musical is so successful. These analysis’ shows how interlocked their lives are. It shows how they directly and indirectly they affect each others lives. They all belong in Les Mis because something no good happens to every single one of them. Most of them die by the end of Les Mis and the only survivors are Marius, Cosette, and the Thenardiers.

Below I will give a few adjectives to describe the characters. If I put an arrow, it shows if their personality changes.

Jean Valjean: bitter, harsh, angry> compassionate, merciful, forgiving

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Javert: obsessive, strict

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Fantine: loving, heartbreaking, tragic

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Cosette: broken>curious, romantic, considerate, hopeful

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Marius: revolutionary, romantic, compassionate, kind

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Eponine: spoiled> loving, lonely, neglected, unloved, brave, fearless

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Thenardiers: abusive, greedy, selfish, cruel, unloving

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Enjolras and students-passionate, brothers, Enjolras (leader)

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Gavroche: brave, heroic

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There is a reason why all of these characters are so loved. It is very hard to pick a favorite even though I love some more than others. As for the females, my favorite is Eponine and have no idea why. These characters are quite complex and you feel like you get to know them. They are so important and though most may die, most die not alone, but with somebody like Valjean being by Fantine’s side when she dies or Eponine dying in Marius’ arms.

What are your thoughts on the Les Mis characters

 

Reason why millions see Les Mis

Once again, another Les Mis post. Yes, I must admit I am obsessed as many know. Yes, I am also a Les Mis walking talking encyclopedia.

Les Mis is one of the most successful musicals in the world. I understand the sensation that it is and even I cannot describe why it is. Millions of people have experienced this epic, powerful, and emotional musical. Though tragic, it truly connects you to the material and the characters. Les Mis knows how to make you truly about every one of the characters  including characters you don’t like. It is just there is something about it that makes it so personal and meaningful at such a very deep level. It is truly about humanity, love, hope, compassion, forgiveness, sacrifice, and redemption. The complexity, honesty, insight, and truth the characters provide is so wonderful. As every fan knows, it is very hard to describe why Les Mis touches them so much.

There is just something about Les Mis that just makes it so special and personal. I know what that it is, but there is no words to describe. The show is wonderfully real and human. It is just so universal and reflects life in a grand and strong and powerful and epic way.

Possible spoilers:

The  Transformation of Jean Valjean is truly incredible. He is so complex and truly changes. He starts out as an angered, hardened and harsh man all because of being in prison for nineteen years just for stealing a loaf of bread for the sake of his family. Five of those nineteen years was just for stealing bread and the rest is for trying to escape.

He quickly figured out that even society does not trust him and treats him poorly. He was given kindness and mercy by the bishop who gives him a place to sleep and food to eat, but Valjean out of desperation steals the bishop’s silver. But the bishop forgave him and gifted him with a set of candlesticks. After the example the bishop set for Valjean, Valjean decided to start his life over and decided to live a life for the sake of the Lord. After breaking parole, Javert becomes obsessed over recapturing Valjean and sending him back to jail.

Fantine lives such a heartbreaking and tragic life. She has a young illegitimate daughter who she shows unconditional love towards. Cosette’s biological father abandoned Fantine and Cosette, which left Fantine in a very desperate situation. She ends up working at Valjean’s factory and is fired by the foreman after learning about Cosette. Fantine eventually becomes a prostitute in order to provide for her daughter. She becomes deathly ill and eventually an abusive customer harasses Fantine and as a matter of defense she attacks him. This incident causes Javert to want to arrest her, but Valjean pleads to Javert to take her to the hospital. As Fantine was dying, Valjean agrees to raise her daughter as his own.

Young Cosette was the first person Valjean ever loved. We learn that eight year old, Cosette, was terribly abused by the Thenardiers and Cosette hopes for a better life.  Valjean rescued her and it is such a challenge considering the fact that he is an ex-convict.

Another story to note is the young love triangle between Marius, Cosette, and Eponine. Both Eponine and Cosette love Marius, but Marius only has eyes for Cosette. Marius continues to be oblivious to Eponine’s deep unrequited love, but Eponine finally confesses her love for him during her death scene at the barricades. As a matter of fact, Marius truly cares about Eponine and is the only light in Eponine’s miserable life. She has probably some of the worst parents ever, who don’t care or even love her. They terribly abuse her and she was raised to be a criminal and the only light in her life is Marius, which is why her unrequited love is so deep and extremely emotionally painful.

There is even the story of the barricade boys. They plan to start an uprising due to the weak government. This group is end by Enjolras, the most passionate of the group. This group of boys are college students.As noticed, it is very hard to describe the plot of Les Mis. It has multiple storylines. These storylines eventually fuse together. It can be hard to see beyond all of the heartbreak, misery, and suffering, but those parts become more worth it once you see the hope.

As for the songs, they wonderfully reflect the storyline. The songs are so powerful and grab you. All you have to do is hear the first note and you are automatically immersed into the storyline. It gives you the feeling that the show is so powerful. The songs reflect the deep emotional nature of the story and the souls and hearts of these wonderful, complex, and well-developed characters. These songs are covered with several emotions and the emotional impact is why Les Mis is so special and unique.

“To love another person is to see the face of God”

Why do you think Les Mis is so successful?

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.