Favorite Friendships in Musicals

You know how love shows up a LOT in musicals through ROMANCE? What about love that shows up through friendship? What are the memorable ones for me? Today, I thought I will talk about those.

Major and Minor Spoilers:

1. Elphaba and Glinda- seriously, what can this post be without Elphaba and Glinda? They are the first friendship I ever fell in love with in a musical. You never thought they would be best friends. They started out as basically enemies, than later became best friends. When they both fell in love with Fiyero, they did not let a boy get in the way of their friendship. They changed each others live for the better. The fact that Wicked centers on their friendship is why Wicked is one of my top two favorite musicals.  “For Good”, the most emotional song in the musical, really shows just how they changed each others lives for the better. It is a bittersweet moment for the two of them- it is the last moment they will see each other, but at least they can say what they meant to each other.

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2. Enjolras and the Students- I just love their brotherly love for each other. You just can’t help but love them. Then you love their hope and passion for their cause. I just love how they take in Gavroche. I really love how they keep their passion strong- even at the end when they know they are going to die.

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3. Newsies- I am going straight to the Newsies because the Newsies parallel Enjolras and the students. Just like the students, the Newsies have a cause they truly believe in and have hope in it plus have a brotherly love for it. The result is different: only difference in the Newsies is that they win. On a side note: I love the intimate bond found between Jack and Crutchie: I just love how they are best friends and that Jack is so protective of Crutchie. Jack is the one who cares more about about his brothers than the strike, but it is Crutchie he cares about the most.

4. Rent Batch- This is another friendship I love. I love how they live how they do their best to live their lives in love and in the moment. They may not get along at times, but they do make up for it. They are this family.

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5. Lumiere and Cogsworth- I don’t what it is about these two, but there is something interesting about this friendship. I mean we are talking about a talking candle and a talking clock throughout most of Beauty and the Beast. I find something fascinating about this friendship- don’t you find something fascinating about this particular friendship?

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6. Marius and Eponine- I know this is a unpopular opinion, but I do enjoy their friendship. Look, Eponine has a dark and tragic life: at least Marius is in her life. People believe Marius is a jerk to Eponine. I do not believe that at all. Marius and Eponine are seen as close friends in the musical- I know that doesn’t exist in the book- I like how that is changed in the musical. It makes the love triangle stronger and “A Little Fall of Rain” more emotional. Marius is kind to Eponine, and that is why she falls in love with him. I know it doesn’t seem that way when Marius asks Eponine to find Cosette for him and those other errands.

I believe at the barricade, Marius asks Eponine to deliver the letter to try to protect her from the uprising. He does not want her to get hurt or worse KILLED. That is why he was worried when she came back. That is why he asked, “why she came back”. When she collapsed in his arms, he realized she was shot, and that her wound was fatal. He was devastated. He could have left her in that moment, but he didn’t. He stayed with her- that shows he is kind and sweet. By being with her in that moment, it shows an incredible act of COMPASSION. He offers her comfort and peace while she was dying. It shows that he truly did care about her.

This line after she died shows that he knew how dark her life was- “her name was Eponine, her life was cold and dark, yet she was unafraid”.

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Ironic Heartbreaking Musical Theatre Love Songs

What on earth do I mean by an ironic heartbreaking love musical theatre song? These are love songs where you don’t except to happen or where things improve in the end. There are going in be spoilers due to explaining why they are ironic in the first place.

1. This Nearly Was Mine- Emelie sings this breakup song after Nellie leaves him. The irony comes from the fact that Nellie comes back to Emelie in the end.

2. I’m Not That Girl/I’m Not That Girl (Reprise)- When Elphaba sings “I’m Not That Girl”, the unrequited love song, little does she know that Fiyero will eventually realize that he loves her, and that they will get together. That is why you don’t except Glinda to sing “I’m Not That Girl (reprise)”, and that happens after Fiyero breaks up with her.

3. If I Can’t Love Her/ If I Can’t Love Her (Reprise)- ironic in the fact that the spell will eventually be broken. Beast feels like Belle will never love him. The reprise is actually more heartbreaking than the first one because he actually has fallen in love with Belle at that point. He has just released Belle as his prisoner, and he believes that Belle doesn’t love him, but in reality she does.

There are other heartbreaking love musical theatre songs, but they are not ironic.

New Series: Top Songs from Each Musical

I thought of a new series. My top songs from each musical I love. I want it to my top ten songs; but I can’t think of ten, will be much lower. I will start with Wicked; only because it sparked my love for musicals.

1. For Good- of course, this is one of my favorites. This one is the most emotional song from the entire musical. This represents the center core the musical: the friendship between Elphaba and Glinda. This is when the two talk about what they mean to each other; but bittersweet in the sense that they will never see each other other again. I have a rule for Elphaba and Glinda actresses: you cannot have an excellent Elphaba without an excellent Glinda and you cannot have cannot have an excellent Glinda without an excellent Elphaba: the show just wouldn’t work out.

2. Popular- I have a very very special reason behind this. At age 12 when I first saw Wicked. I saw the show on Broadway and at the age of 12, this was my favorite song. Due to that memory, it was my favorite song from Wicked ever since. It was the first moment the girls truly have become friends. It is a hilarious song and you truly start to understand Glinda through this number.

3. Wizard and I- This is Elphaba’s first big moment. You get to see Elphaba’s innocence and hope in this song. You first truly meet Elphaba in this song. That is why I love it so much.

4. Defying Gravity- Elphaba no longer is much innocent in this song. Instead she has matured in this song. She has decided to go on another path and this is when she has matured. This is a perfect act I closer and one of the best special effect moments.

5. I’m Not That Girl- just like For Good is an emotional song, so is I’m Not That Girl. This song after all is about unrequited love. This is the first moment we hear this song. Elphaba sings this version. Elphaba understands she isn’t good enough for Fiyero because after all she is green. She even decides not to pursue Fiyero because of her best friend. So this song is heartbreaking after all.

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6. Dancing Through Life- this is when Fiyero gets into the story. I love how this is when Elphaba and Glinda finally get to bond with each other. It is one of the best dancing numbers in the show. A lot is going on this number: this is when Fiyero and Glinda start going out: You learn that Nessa loves Boq: you also learn that Boq has a crush on Glinda. Yes, that sounds like a lot. There is a school dance in there as well. Still many many things happen in this song. My favorite moment in this song is when Glinda makes something special out of Elphaba’s silly dance.

7. What is This Feeling- this is a wonderful dance number. You get a feeling of how much Glinda and Elphaba feel about each other about other at first. They dislike each other at first. You even see how many people feel about Elphaba as well. This is just an unique dance scene to look at as well.

8. One Short Day- I just love this number by seeing all of the Emerald City costumes. Now you truly know that Elphaba and Glinda are best friends. I just love the different spectacle moments in this songs.

9. As Long As Your’e Mine- well act I has Elphaba’s unrequited love song, I’m Not That Girl. Now Elphaba is singing with Fiyero a love song. So Fiyero has realized he is in love with Elphaba in act II. This song has this mystical feeling taking place in the forest with them kneeling in fog. They both have truly matured at the time. Elphaba is no longer that innocent and Fiyero is not that jerk he was in act I. The song reflects that. The song is so unexpected. So the love triangle is complicated in the fact that you never think these two will fall in love with each other for a multiple of reasons: well Elphaba used to dislike him; then Elphaba fell in love with him, but then she has unrequited love for him, but in act II he realized his true feelings for her.

for now, I only have a top 9. The next group will be for Les Mis- oh boy.

Standouts in Musicals

I never really talked about this. Standouts do exist whenever you see a musical. But what exactly makes certain actors standout more than others. That is very very hard to explain. It always has something to do with their performance: they are the ones that go above and beyond with their performance. They add something unique to their portrayal. Below I will mention some of my standouts in some of the musicals I have recently seen.

Minor and Major Spoilers:

Les Mis ( Tour 2017): Nick Cartell, Matt Shingledecker, Joshua Grosso

Nick Cartell (Jean Valjean)- I know he was one of the standouts, but that is hard to describe. I could tell he was throughout his portrayal. I had seen him previously in the ensemble of Phantom of the Opera. So I loved seeing him go from ensemble to lead. Part of why he stood out is his breathtaking and soulful performance of “Bring Him Home”. It was strong enough, but quiet enough for what the song required. It truly sounded like a prayer.

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Matt Shingledecker (Enjolrass)- Honestly don’t really know why he was a standout at all. But I could just tell he was.

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Joshua Grosso (Marius)- I like to describe his Marius as charming and awkward. I was extremely surprised of how much he stood out. I am always expecting Eponine to be the strongest actor in the love triangle, but in this situation, Joshua was the strongest actor in the love triangle. Much more my focus ended up being on Marius instead of Eponine. That sounds a bit odd in a way considering the fact that of all the characters in the love triangle, Eponine is my favorite character. But it did make me view the love triangle from a different perspective. It is important for me to get to know all three characters.

He embodied Marius perfectly while still bringing something new. I never knew Marius was awkward until Joshua. The awkwardness made me learn to love Marius even more. At “A Heart Full of Love”, he was like “I’m in love, but what on earth do I do with it”. It was really effective. As I was watching “A Little Fall of Rain”, he focused much more on comforting Eponine than showing how heartbroken he was. He showed his heartbreak at the end:  he actually acted stunned: he could not finish the song at first: he waited about 5-10 seconds: that is what I mean by stunned and then the way he said “grow” was hard for me to listen to. He really brought out all of his trauma and heartbreak during “Empty Chairs at Empty Tables”. Because of what Joshua was able to do with Marius, he became my favorite Marius.

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Wicked (Tour 2016): Mary Kate Morrissey, Amanda Jane Copper, Ashley Parker Angel

About Wicked, I focus so much on Elphaba, Glinda, and Fiyero that I forget that the others so those three actors always easily standout from the others.

Mary Kate Morrissey (Elphaba): She was an excellent Elphaba. You never would suspect she was a standby. She embodied everything about Elphaba. She made appreciate a song I always hated and emotions in that song finally stuck. She was able to change her voice to match Elphaba’s. From a more innocent voice in most of act I to a more mature voice starting at “Defying Gravity”.

Amanda Jane Copper (Glinda): Here’s my rule about Elphaba and Glinda: you can’t have an excellent Elphaba without an excellent Glinda and vice versa. Amanda Jane Copper was just hilarious and every funny line of Glinda’s I laughed at. You could feel Glinda’s pain act II. You got to “For Good”, and I teared up at their very emotional song.

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Ashley Parker Angel (Fiyero): I was determined to get to the bottom of him this time around so I dug deeper. So the Lion Cub scene hit. He played that scene as if he has a crush on Elphaba, but doesn’t know it. I love how he played Fiyero in that way. He already showed weaker chemistry with Glinda and stronger chemistry with Elphaba foreshadowing the unrequited love shift in act II.

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Pippin (Tour 2015): Lisa Karlin

Lisa Karlin (Leading Player) -I was much more intrigued by the Leading Player’s portrayal than Pippin. She was able to be playful with a tad bit of evil in “Magic to Do”. Around Pippin, she was able to hide her darkness so that Pippin could trust her. So she was very crafty and very manipulative. In songs such as “Glory”, she was so much more dark and evil that you can tell that she was the antagonist of the musical. There is something very intriguing about the character. I may have been new to the show at time, but everyone I know about the character comes from just one actress. Usually I don’t know all of this information from just one actor or actress. This actress seemed to spend a lot of time getting to know her character and make it her own. She also tricked the audience.

Who is Glinda?

Wicked is unique in the fact that it has two protagonists: in the main fact it is two females. It is between an unlikely friendship formed between Elphaba and Glinda.

Major Spoilers:

Glinda opens up Wicked and the citizens ask her if it is was true if she and the Wicked Witch of the West really were friends?

Galinda is from the Upperlands. She came to Shiz hoping to be a sorcery student. She is popular and has been brought up a certain way. Reluctantly, she ends up roommates with Elphaba: it turns out they strongly dislike each other. You never expect the two of them to become friends. After making something out of Elphaba’s silly dance, the two of begin to form an unique bond. It is important to note that both girls are in love with Fiyero. Galinda is very much a girlie girl and in act I, she is very naive and innocent. She and Elphaba have become best friends. After Doctor Dillamond gets fired, she decides to change her name to Glinda since he never could say her “ga”.

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In Act II, Glinda becomes a public figure, but means having to hear untrue rumors being spread about her best friend. Hearing this rumors do hurt Glinda a great deal. Fiyero realizing he is in love with Elphaba breaks up with Glinda. So Glinda deals with a lot of hurt of act II: first untrue rumors and then she goes through unrequited love. Glinda deals with the unrequited love the same way Elphaba dealt with it: she choose not to steal Fiyero away. Glinda realized in “For Good” that Elphaba is the one friend that truly mattered. Glinda makes you laugh a lot while making you feel all the pain she feels so Glinda is a very real and complex comic character.

Who is Elphaba?

In this series, I am now at Elphaba. Elphaba is my all-time favorite musical character. She is one of the two main protagonists in Wicked. She is this excellent and complex young woman.

Despite being born different, that does stop her from being herself. However, complications come from that. It causes her father to hate her and he blames her for her sister’s disability and her mother’s death. So she has been treated like an outcast her whole life. She does not let that stop her. She goes to college with innocence and full of hope, but she finds out that even there she is still judged for being green. She got stuck with being roommates with Galinda (Glinda later) and they do not like each other.

Elphaba already has magical powers, but she has no idea how to control them. There have been incidents at school where her powers go out of control. The first is when they arrive: when Nessa is taken away and the second incident is when she sets a spell during class.

At a school dance, Elphaba arrives and does this silly dance type of thing. Galinda actually decides to join, and she actually creates something magical out of that. For once, Elphaba finally feels accepted. The two girls have bonded over a school dance. In the next scene, they realize that they could be potential friends. You learn how caring Elphaba is in more than one way: the moment when Doctor Dillamond sees the frightening message on the chalkboard and when Elphaba sees the scared Lion cub in the cage. You see that she really does have a big-heart- she does understand what it is like  to be different.

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On a side note- a love triangle happens between Elphaba, Glinda, and Fiyero. You notice this when Fiyero and Elphaba help free that lion cub. Elphaba and Fiyero have this playful conversation and it is this moment that Elphaba realizes her feelings for Fiyero. Based on the way that Elphaba responded to the unrequited shows just how loyal she is to her best friend: she chooses not to steal Fiyero away or pursue to keep friendship alive.

Elphaba takes a separate path when she realizes just how not so great the Wizard is. Throughout act I, she is such an innocent young girl. Now she has truly matured. She has always stayed true to herself, and that is very important to her. Equality is important to Elphaba as well and believes in equality for all including animals. She does not let the label of “Wicked” define her. Even though Fiyero didn’t love her in act I, she realized that he does her love her in act II. You show just how mature their love for each other is. You see their love for each throughout different scenes after “As Long As Your’e Mine”. Fiyero stops the guards from arresting Elphaba. Elphaba takes matters into her own hands and tries spell after spell after spell to save him and feels like she failed. Each time she does good, everyone calls it Wicked. When she saved Boq’s life when it accidentally started shrinking due to Nessa, she had no choice but to turn him to tin, Boq started hating Elphaba. In “No Good Deed”, she is hurt, frustrated, and angry, and she truly feels Wicked, but it doesn’t mean she is a bad person.

She does have one final moment with Glinda. The two are able to express their love for each other in “For Good”. They have impacted each other’s lives. Glinda has been Elphaba’s only friend. Glinda will always be a piece of Elphaba. Elphaba is this smart, determined, a bit impulsive, different, big-hearted, misunderstood, courageous, young woman who believes in equality and staying true to yourself. Just because people have called her  “wicked” does not make her one. I see a lot of myself in her, and that is a huge reason why she is my favorite musical character. Elphaba is also a big reason why I love Wicked so much.

 

 

How Context helps with Musical Song Emotion

It is important to pay attention to the context surrounding a musical song to understand and pick up on the emotion. Context can refer to the scene that happened right before the song because that scene can help set up the song.

Santa Fe- Newsies

At first glance, this song does not seem like it is sad, but it actually is. The context at the beginning of the show and the scene before helps in understanding the emotion of the scene. Right before Santa Fe, there is this big fight that breaks out. Jack witnesses all of this and he sees his brothers getting hurt and Crutchie being arrested. If you remember Santa Fe (Prologue), it tells you that he has such a personal bond to Crutchie.

So due to all that Jack has just witnessed, he is quite upset and that leads to Santa Fe. It is a sad song. Jack is upset that his brothers got hurt all because of the strike. He wants to give up and he does not want them to get hurt. He dreams of going to Santa Fe, but now he wants to go there more than ever due to what he just witnessed. He cares so much about his brothers that he cares more about them than the cause.

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I’m Not That Girl- Wicked

Obviously this is an unrequited love song. But the scene before helps you understand the level of heartbreak the song is. Previously, Fiyero and Elphaba are in the woods freeing a lion cub. In this scene, the two characters argue in a playful way. In my opinion, I think this is the moment where Elphaba realizes that she is falling in love with Fiyero. By that, it tells you that her love for Fiyero isn’t quite that deep or strong. She literally singing “I’m Not That Girl” after the Lion Cub scene. So that shows that the song is only moderately heartbreaking.

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Do you think context outside of the song helps with musical emotion?