Sympathy and Empathy in Musicals

The word sympathy reminds me of musicals. A musical has the advantage of song to make you feel for the characters. They want you to feel empathy for the characters, but sometimes all you can feel sympathy for them especially if you are feeling for a character you don’t like.

The emotions the actors are played to the audience makes the audience feel what the character is feeling. In my eyes, I feel like the characters personally know everyone in the audience and are comfortable with sharing their emotions to the audience even if they are not willing to share it to the other characters.

Some musical emotions are hard to feel and are tough. You don’t want the characters to go through what they are going through at times, but you still learn to care about them and they end up living in you. The negative emotions are the best example of feeling sympathy and eventually empathy for them. I don’t mind feeling the negative emotions especially if I fall in love with the sad and heartbreaking songs and fall in love with the character and plot because you feel like you are ingrained into the plot and when that happens, you end up having a positive experience.

What makes the songs make you feel for the characters? Well, for starters, songs are usually more powerful than words alone. Sometimes a musical’s use of crescendos makes a song feel strong and powerful, which is a very unique thing to see. The crescendo makes you see just how strong a character is and that can make you feel the emotions the song is trying to convey. There are key changes when it comes to a crescendo. Songs like “On My Own”, “One Day More”, “Defying Gravity” among others have a use of crescendos and crescendos help with emotions a lot. It lifts the song and makes a song even more powerful.

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I feel like the melody shows the nature of the emotions. A slow and quiet song is how you end up feeling love and the sad or heartbreaking songs fit under that category as well. “I’m Not That Girl” is an unrequited love, but because the melody stays consistent throughout, it  shows that Elphaba’s love for Fiyero is not that strong at that point in the story. But with the case of “On My Own”, which is another unrequited love song, the melody which has this whole introduction shows just dark and empty Eponine’s life is and when that sudden key changes after “all I see is him and me forever and forever”, the melody has a sudden key change and slowly builds up over time sells how just strong and deep Eponine’s love for Marius is. So melody does play a part in the emotion of the song. The exciting songs have the pattern of starting and suddenly speeds up and that gives you the wow factor that an exciting is supposed to have.

What is your opinion about feeling sympathy and empathy in musicals? Do you like the use of crescendos in musicals? Why you think songs bring out the emotions in the characters better than words alone?

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Letter to Les Mis Characters

Dear Jean Valjean, Javert, Fantine, Eponine, Marius, Cosette, Monsiuer and Madame Thenardier, Enjolras, and rest of the students,

All of you are an important part of my life. You all create such a heartfelt and inspirational story. You all showed me just how amazing a tragic tale could be and that tragedies are way more than being sad. Now I will talk about you all individually.

Major Spoilers:

Jean Valjean, you are one of my favorite literary and musical protagonists. I love the spiritual transformation you take throughout the tale. You taught me that people can raise above their upbringing. You showed me just how one person can impact someone’s life and that is something you learned from the bishop. I love that you promised to raise Fantine’s daughter as your own. I am glad you rescued Cosette and gave her a better life. I love the compassion you show to others. Love that you rescued Marius due to the love you love for Cosette. Boy there is so much I could say about your character. Your redemption is so strong and glad you got to die with Cosette and Marius by your side.

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Javert, you belong in Les Mis despite the fact that I am not a big fan of your character mainly because I love Jean Valjean. I cannot believe you always believed that people would never change. You showed me that there are people that do see the world in black and white. Still, you are very hard to find ground with just because of how complex you are as a character. All you wanted to do was recapture Valjean and send him back to prison. I wish you had realized that Valjean did become a better person. But you still fit in Les Mis. In a way I like you because you are one of the most complex literary antagonists and you do belong in Les Mis.

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Fantine, oh my, your story is so hard to watch because it is so heartbreaking. I cannot believe that the biological father of your daughter abandoned you and left you to be a single mom. I wish you did not leave Cosette in the hands of the Thenardiers because they treated her horribly. Boy, at the factory, I wish those factory women never read that letter. Still you had to turn to prostitution in order to provide for Cosette. I love the love you have for Cosette. I wish you had you realized that the Thenardiers were scamming you out of money. I am so glad that Valjean came to the rescue and promised to raise your daughter as his own. He showed you compassion as you were dying and at least you were able to die in peace and comfort after Valjean made that promise.

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Monsieur and Madame Thenardier, I completely hate you, but at the same time I love the two of you. You provided the much needed comic relief, but at the same time hated you for how you treated Cosette when she was living there. You horribly abused her and made her a servant of your inn. You even were scamming Fantine out of money spreading false lies about Cosette. Well, Valjean came for Cosette and rescued her, but then you started horribly abusing Eponine and kicked Gavroche out of your house. Boy you are so neglectful and unloving towards your children. You raised Eponine to be a criminal and a thief. In a weird way, you made me realize just how fortunate I am to be living in a loving family.

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Eponine, you are one of my favorite characters in the musical. As a child, you appeared to be loved by your parents, but things were eventually going to get darker and even worse. Your parents horribly abused you and raised you to be a thief and a criminal so you lived a very horrible and dark life. Boy, at least you found light through Marius, the only good thing in your life and the only person who showed you kindness and that is what moved you to love him. At least you had him in your life even though he didn’t love you. Still, I love the way you respond to your unrequited love. You continued to stand by Marius’ side and would do anything for him so you risked your life several times. I love that you died in his arms and even though you were shot, you were at peace because you were in the arms of the man you loved. Still, you did not have many good things in your life and you were able to raise above your upbringing. Boy, there is so much I could say about you and why I love you.

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Cosette, I am so glad Jean Valjean rescued you from the Thenardiers and you were so strong as a child and always hoped you would be rescued. You ended up being in better hands with Jean Valjean. He was such an incredible father even though you and him were always on the run from Javert. Still, I love that you represent hope and light in Les Mis. You and Marius make a wonderful couple. That helps bring even more hope and light to the tale. I cannot believe that your adopted father died at the end, but at least you still had Marius. You may not be as developed as some of the other characters, but I love what you represent.

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Marius, I love the relationship you have with the students, Eponine, and Cosette. You were a revolutionary part of the students. In the case of Eponine, I love that you were in her life because she needed it because you gave light in her life. So glad that you showed your kindness and were a good friend towards her. Yes, she eventually dies and that leaves you heartbroken, but I am glad you stayed brave and stayed by her side as she lay dying from a gunshot wound. On top of that trauma, the rest of your friends died, but at least you were rescued by Jean Valjean, Cosette’s adopted father. You are such a sweet, kind, and compassionate person. You and Cosette are a beautiful couple and she helped you recover from the trauma you faced at the barricade.

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Enjolras, Gavroche, and the students, I love that you stand up for what you believe in. Enjolras, you are so passionate towards the uprising and you make such a wonderful leader. I love how all you take in Gavroche and you were like his family. Every single one of you stayed passionate towards the end even when you knew the uprising will most likely fail. I just love the brotherly love you have for each other. Still, I could on and on about why I love you all.

What are your thoughts on the Les Mis characters?

Why I Love the Love Triangle in Les Mis

Yesterday, I talked about Phantom of the Opera’s love triangle and the day before I talked about  Wicked’s love triangle and now today it is time for me to talk about the Les Mis love triangle. The Les Mis love triangle is the second love triangle that entered my life and is between Eponine, Marius, and Cosette. In this post, I will try to explain why I love this love triangle. I know why I love this love triangle, but still seem to have to a hard time putting it into words and that it one of the special things about Les Mis.

In this love triangle, both Eponine and Cosette love Marius and it is Eponine who ends up with the unrequited love. This love triangle is youthful and full of hope and light, but full of pain and heartbreak and those two aspects are reasons why I love it. In my personal opinion, I love the way the love triangle is set up. Since Cosette represents hope and light in Les Mis, it makes sense why she ends up with Marius and why Eponine gets the unrequited love and makes sense because of the switch that happens between the two girls. Cosette and Marius are a beautiful couple and they wouldn’t have gotten together if it wasn’t for Eponine

Eponine is an unique factor in this love triangle and a big reason why I love it. Despite the love being unrequited, Eponine continues to stand by Marius even though he stays oblivious to her love for him. If it wasn’t for Eponine’s empty and horrible life, Marius’ kindness wouldn’t have moved her so much to love him as deeply. All Eponine wants is to feel loved, but she still continues to stay faithful to Marius. It was Eponine that got Marius and Cosette together and she protected Marius and risked her life several times for him. Eponine is my favorite of the characters in the love triangle and one of my favorite characters in the entire musical.

You wouldn’t expect a teenage girl going through unrequited love to respond in the way that Eponine did, but if you think about it, Marius is literally all she has in life and he is the only good in her life and the only person who ever shows her kindness. Because Eponine’s love for Marius is so deep, there is a lot of heartbreak and pain in the unrequited love, but is still strong, which is clearly shown throughout the beautiful and powerful “On My Own”.

This love triangle has two instances where you end up feeling for all three of them at once, which is quite clever. The first is when Marius first bumps into Cosette and the second is towards the end of “A Heart Full of Love” when Eponine joins in. You end up feeling wonderful for Marius and Cosette, but heartbroken for Eponine so you can end up feeling a bit confused about your emotions.

On a side note: this love triangle actually made me realize that unrequited love is a heartbreaking situation to be caught up in. It took an entire year to realize “On My Own” was heartbreaking. It was that song that made me understand “I’m Not That Girl” was heartbreaking, which strengthened Wicked’s love triangle, which isn’t even a straightforward love triangle.

What are your feelings about the Les Mis love triangle? What makes this love triangle unique?

Opinions I Once Had About Musicals

This is a list of beliefs I had about musicals at one point my journey. I will talk about why I had those options and will talk about why I no longer have those opinions. But now, each of those points have been disproven by Les Mis.

Possible Spoilers:

My first opinion was all musicals are happy. I only said that because that was all I had seen and due to that I believed every musical was happy. Les Mis disproved that and even Rent did the same thing. But it really was Les Mis that disproved it. I saw the movie musical back in 2012 and that was my first full exposure to the musical. While watching I discovered Les Mis was a heartbreaking musical and did not know how to respond. Over time Les Mis became such an important part of my musical journey and my life. I realized NOT all musicals are happy like I once believed.

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A second opinion I had about theatre in general is that I will always hate tragedies and will never learn to love one. Both Les Mis and Rent disproved that opinion as well. I love both of them. Both of them are sad and I can be particular when it comes to tragic musicals. I love them because they have amazing songs, characters, and storylines. Both go beyond their tragic nature. Les Mis has this underlying spirituality due to its forgiveness, compassion, love, hope, sacrifice, humanity and sacrifice and Rent has the message of living in the moment and measuring your life in love.

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A third opinion I had about theatre is that a death scene can never be memorable. Prior to Les Mis, I have seen death scenes in musicals, but I have forgotten about some of them and overlooked some of them. All of the death scenes in Les Mis but Javert’s are memorable. Those memorable deaths happen to characters who do not die alone and they all have some kind of joy in their death scenes. Fantine dies with Valjean by her side who promises to her that he will raise Cosette as his own. Eponine, despite being shot, dies in the arms of Marius, the man she loves even though that love is unrequited. Gavroche and the students died standing up for what they believed in. Valjean died with Cosette, his adopted daughter, and Marius by his side.

So far, the only memorable death scenes in musicals happened to be from Les Mis. The fact that Javert was the only character to die alone shows just how memorable the other deaths are. All of my favorite characters are dead by the end of the musical. But they still have a wonderful fate.

A fourth opinion that formed is that every musical must have some dance or spectacle element and those two are still part of my musical vision. Once again, Les Mis disproved that point again. Through Les Mis, I realized just how incredible a musical can be without a dance or spectacle element.

A fifth opinion I had is that negative emotions can never go beyond sad. I started to understand the negative emotions in middle school. By high school, I knew sad was common and was important. But I believed the negative emotions could never be more. Les Mis once again disproved that point. I realized there is more to sad when it comes to the negative emotions. I had no idea I was 100% blind to heartbreak. It isn’t just heartbreak that entered: it is just how deep the heartbreak actually is in Les Mis.

This might be connected, but even other emotions changed as a result of realizing heartbreak is musical emotion. It affected joy and love as well. Look at heartbreaking love songs and look at heartbreaking song with joy in it. Look at just how insightful and truthful and powerful they can be. Prior to Les Mis, I don’t remember if a musical song made me cry, but in Les Mis, I cry each time I listen to the song or even watch the musical in any way.

So Les Mis really showed me a side of musicals I had never seen before. I had all of these opinions only because of what I had known about musicals. It had to do with what I remembered. It had to do with how I interpreted them. Since happy musicals used to take up every single musical, I ended up calling most musicals happy and calling all musicals joyful. It makes sense why I thought a death scene could never be memorable. So in many ways, this post shows a huge reason why Les Mis played such a huge part in my musical journey.

What are some opinions you once had about musicals and did anything disprove them?

Heartbreaking Love Musical Songs

The musical emotions of love and heartbreak work nicely together. Both translate beautifully. There are musical songs that are heartbreaking love songs. Below I will talk about some heartbreaking love songs.

Possible Spoilers:

I’m Not That Girl- this song started out as sad. I was only in middle school when I first realized the song was sad. By high school, I definitely understood this song was part of a love triangle. I was 100% blind to heartbreak growing up. I honesty did not understand unrequited love in those days. The song, “On My Own”, is a huge reason why I discovered this song was heartbreaking and memorizing the lyrics helped as well. This song doesn’t have room to be fully heartbreaking because literally just moments before Elphaba sang this song, she just found out she loves Fiyero so in many ways this song is moderately heartbreaking.

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On My Own- this song is even more heartbreaking than I’m Not That Girl. While both are unrequited love songs, there are obvious differences due to how different Elphaba and Eponine are as characters. Eponine’s story revolves around unrequited love so you know how it affects her unlike Elphaba. Marius is the only person who treats her kindly and that is why she loves him. This song shows just how strong Eponine is and this song is even more powerful and more heartbreaking than “I’m Not That Girl”

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This Nearly Was Mine- while this song is not dealing with unrequited love, there are still some similarities. This is sung in South Pacific by Emelie. Nellie has left him due to the race of his children’s mother. So this sung is dealing with a breakup, which has similar emotions in my opinion with unrequited love.

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Somewhere- this is the last love song in West Side Story. As the love songs go on in this musical, the songs just get sadder and sadder. This song happens right after the rumble takes place and that is when the first traces of tragedy show up. It is so close to the tragic end of this modern Romeo and Juliet tale.

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If I Can’t Love Her/Evermore-I put these two songs together because they are both sung by beast. They both are similar to each other in emotion. Beast has realized that he loves Belle, but doesn’t know if she will ever love him. He cannot be turned back into his human form until he loves someone and he is loved back.

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As Long As He Needs Me- I actually did see Oliver in middle school, but do not remember seeing it. The only knowledge I really have belong to the book and the 2005 movie. So it is interesting how I seem to know that this song is a heartbreaking love song, but the same could be said for “If I Can’t Love Her”. But by knowing who Nancy is in the book and that movie, I know this song is heartbreaking. Nancy loves Bill Sikes even though he is abusive towards her, but she will always love him as long as he needs her even though the situation is dangerous

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In many ways heartbreak and love really fit nicely together. Even though I heard “If I Can’t Love Her” before “I’m Not That Girl”, “I’m Not That Girl” was really the start to sad love songs. That was because Wicked was the musical where I began to understand the negative emotions and Wicked is the best way I can even remember what the negative emotions were like in my younger years.

However “On My Own” started telling me more about sad love songs. I began to understand that sad love songs are actually heartbreaking. If it wasn’t for “On My Own”, I still would be interpreting sad love songs the same way as  I used to call “I’m Not That Girl”. Calling a song heartbreaking is even more devastating than calling a song sad. Due to that, a heartbreaking love song has more fragility and vulnerability. I cannot think of a single sad love song that is not heartbreaking.

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Meaning of Being a Kid

Yesterday, I volunteered at my church’s weekday school with my mom. Even though the preschool ended, there was still lots of cleaning up to do. For me, I ended up putting together puzzles in order to see if there is a missing piece. If there isn’t I put them away and if there is, the puzzle gets thrown away.

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Even though I was volunteering, I felt like a kid again. There was something about preschool puzzles that made me feel like that. Honestly, there are many times when I wish I was back in either preschool or elementary school. In those days, everything is so much easier. It always seem to be fun and there is no worry all the time. As you get older, things get harder and even though I am a college student, it can drive you nuts.

Below is a picture of one of the most recent pictures of me. This came from this summer. As some people already know, this picture is me dressed as Eponine for a Les Mis party.

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During my elementary school years, everything was so fun. I did not have to deal with finals or having to work. I just could have fun playing either games or playing with dolls or reading or birthday parties or field trips or even parties at school. A lot of who I am today existed when I was much younger: meaning elementary school and younger. In elementary school, I was optimistic, funny, outgoing, and had a wild imagination, which are all part of me today at age 23.

The way I saw musicals was very different too. From the emotions I remember the best, in elementary school, excitement was the most memorable emotion in the earlier years. On top of that, the part that I looked forward to the most was dance and spectacle. Dance and spectacle in those days were more important than the emotional nature. That was only because I hardly understood the emotional side of things. In those days, I remember that Annie was my first musical soundtrack.

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Even though I wish I was a kid again, I am so glad I am older. True life gets harder as you get older and that is why you wish you were a kid. Being older gave me a better understanding on things especially musicals. But musicals truly began as a world of spectacle and dance, the most important aspects in the elementary school years. Those two things are a big reason why I loved musicals in elementary school.

I can be young at heart at times and that is part of why I love Disney and why my vision of musicals was created through the musicals I grew up with, which are the ones before high school and last one I grew up with would be Wicked. Below is a picture of me at age 12 in New York. That was during middle school and I began to realize there is more to musicals than just spectacle and dance. It was at that age where I began to understand that musicals have an emotional nature. I was at the right age to begin to understand that. Even seeing Wicked was still part of my younger, but was quite essential to my musical journey.

What are some things you enjoyed as a kid? Are there some current characteristics that you first developed starting in either preschool or elementary school.

Musical Families: Round Two

Once upon a time on this blog, I talked about musical families. I talked about only loving families. But on this post, my focus will be on all musical families. Some of these families are biological families and some of these families were created either by adoption or a group of friends formed a family.

Possible Spoilers

The first family I want to talk about is the Thenardier Family. The Thenardier family is defiantly not a loving family due to just how abusive and neglectful this family is. In the musical, it consists of Monseiur and Madame Thenardier, Gavroche and Eponine.

You first get to know them through Young Cosette. At the time, Cosette is eight and you notice that the Thenardiers are in fact quite abusive due to just how poorly they treat Young Cosette and that is shown through “Castle on a Cloud”. They even treat her like a servant and they have scammed Fantine out of money and use it to spoil their daughter, Eponine. Just through how they treat Cosette says a lot about the Thenardiers. I read in the book that if Cosette wasn’t there, they would have abused their own children. Following her parent’s lead, Eponine also poorly treats Cosette. Throughout “Master of the House”, you learn that the Thenardiers are in fact pickpockets. Through those two songs, you get an idea of the environment Eponine is going to be growing up in.

However, Jean Valjean eventually comes for Cosette. The sad truth about that is that while Cosette is rescued, Eponine is stuck with the Thenardiers for the rest of her life. They actually kicked Gavroche out of their house and that in a way shows just how unloving the Thenardiers are. When it comes to Eponine, they give her the same treatment that Cosette got. Right after Cosette got rescued, the Thenardiers’ inn goes bankrupt and the family falls into extreme poverty.

Not only do they horribly abuse Eponine, but they teach her the ways of being a criminal. She actually is involved in her father’s schemes by being a watchdog for the law. Eponine no longer is living in a loving family and she is all alone in the world. She lives in such a dark world and she is all alone and not a lot of good things happen in her life No one shows her an once of kindness in her life.

The only person who treated her kindly was Marius and that was why she fell in love with Marius and why she loves him so deeply. Even though Marius loves Cosette, all she cares about is to make sure he is happy even if it means losing him forever. If Marius never entered Eponine’s life, her life would be so much darker and there would be no light.

Despite the fact that the Thenardiers are so unloving, I believe this family is a memorable one. The Thenardiers are the comic relief in this musical and good thing they do because it is much needed. There is importance behind the fact that both Gavroche and Eponine are the children of the Thenardiers. The Thenardiers are defiantly some of the worst parents ever in literature. They are quite despicable, greedy, abusive, selfish, neglectful and unloving and do not even love or care about their children. Even when Garvroche and Eponine are killed during the uprising, they just do not care that their children died.

Another musical family is the Von Trapp family. Unlike the Thenardier family, this family is loving. The Captain may be strict with the children, but he is still loving towards them. When Maria becomes governess there, she brought happiness back to his house by teaching his seven children to sing. Eventually the Captain and Maria fell in love and they get married. This was one of the earliest families to enter my life since I have loved Sound of Music since elementary school.

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In Annie, a family is created as the show continues. Daddy Warbucks wants an orphan to stay in his home for a week over the holidays (Fourth of July in the movie and Christmas in the stage show). Daddy Warbucks wanted a boy to stay there, but he ended up with Annie. Through the course of her stay, Daddy Warbucks falls in love with Annie and eventually adopts her. Just like Sound of Music, this family has been part of my life for just as long.

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Another family found in Les Mis is the one between Young Cosette and Jean Valjean. As Fantine is dying, she is still desperate for the care of Cosette. Through an act of compassion, Jean Valjean agrees to raise Cosette as his own. After discovering Cosette in the woods, he almost immediately falls in love with her as his daughter. He realizes just how poorly Cosette’s life has been. Both Cosette and Jean Valjean are broken on the inside and through their love for each other, they are eventually healed. But there are challenges with raising Cosette. Since Valjean is an ex-convict, he is always on the run from Javert and he has to protect and shelter Cosette so often because whenever he is out, he is always in danger of being caught by Javert.

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Another Les Mis family belong to the Enjolras and the students. This is an example of friends who form a family. They have such a brotherly love for each other. Enjolras is the leader of the group and the most passionate about their cause. They plan a rebellion in the streets in response to an unstable government. They basically take in Gavroche and Gavroche ends up with family through them. Even though he is just a boy, he still helps out at the barricade.

Very similar to the students of Les Mis, the Newsies create a very similar family. Jack Kelly is the leader of the Newsies and has a special bond to Crutchie. A lot of them are orphans, runaways, or homeless, but all they have is each other. They are so close and stand up for what they believe in. Newsies is the newest family of the musicals I love.

Another friendship family is found among the characters in Rent. Many of them are starving artists and are poor. They live in the fact of fear due to the stigma surrounding the HIV/AIDS epidemic. Mimi, Roger, Collins, and Angel are HIV positive. The other characters found in this family are Joeanne, Maureen, and Mark. These characters have a very close bond. They live their lives in love and despite relationship struggles at times, they still stay quite connected.

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One family that is quite important is my family. If it wasn’t for my parents, I may not be a musical fan at all. They took my sister and I to see musicals growing up both live and in the movie theatre. Seeing musicals starting in elementary school were essential to my musical journey. I saw musicals such as Cats, Beauty the Beast, Lion King, Annie, and Sound of Music back in elementary school. My mom took me to see Wicked when I was 12 in New York. Even today, my family takes me to the theatre to see musicals. I have special memories of my family and musicals.

Wicked was not the only theatre date I had with my mom. She also took me to see Pippin, Phantom of the Opera, and Les Mis and due to those being a mother/daughter date, it added to just how special all those trips were. I actually did see Wicked with my dad when I saw the musical for the third time and I remember my dad giving me the better seat even though he had never seen it. The tallest guy in the auditorium sat in front of me and dad switched places with me. I wouldn’t have been exposed to musicals in the first place if they didn’t take me in the beginning.

Below is a link to my first musical post I wrote about families. It has all the families I talked about except for the Thenardier family. That was because my first post belonged to the loving families

https://megsdailymusings.wordpress.com/2017/04/05/importance-of-family-in-musicals/