Well, I can easily separate meaningful musicals into three categories. Those are my childhood musicals, Fletcher musicals, and college musicals. These are all self-explanatory meaning you can easily describe all three. Let me put this into more perspective.
My childhood musicals were ALL musicals that entered my life before I started middle school. Beauty and the Beast, Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, Wizard of OZ, Aladdin, Lion King, Grease, Sound of Music, and Annie fit under this category.
What about the Fletcher musicals? Well, I call these Fletcher musicals because they entered my life when I was still a student at Fletcher. I went to that school from 6th -12th grade. That school was a small K-12 school. Most of the musicals I saw in this time frame were movie musicals. These musicals were Wicked, Mamma Mia, Enchanted, and The High School Musical series. So this set of musicals were the smallest.
College Musicals- I went to two colleges. Central Piedmont Community College and Gardner Webb University were the ones I went to. There were a lot of musicals I fell in love. They were Rent, Godspell, Les Mis, South Pacific, Oklahoma, Newsies, Phantom of the Opera, Frozen, Man of La Mancha, White Christmas, Music Man, Pippin, Singing in the Rain, My Fair Lady, Greatest Showman, and Fiddler on the Roof. This time frame was where my passion for musicals came from- thanks to Les Mis, which challenged everything. That is why there is a lot. What was amazing about CPCC is just how professional they feel: I literally called their production of “Les Mis” phenomenal. CPCC is where I started to get more into theatre: I ushered twice for Les Mis and once for Some Enchanted Evening.
As all musical fanatics know, there are musicals we don’t like and at the same time there are musicals we love. While I tend to lean towards complex musicals, there are still simple musicals I love. While I tend to want spectacle or dance, not all musicals I love share that. So, what exactly is in common towards all of them?
Well, to make a musical, we need songs, plot, and character. It is extremely difficult to love the plot and characters if the songs are not good. That is one thing in common between all my favorite characters-as in amazing songs. That is usually my first step for a musical to become amazing.
Now that song is taken care of, it is time to look at the characters. That’s right, I look at the characters before the plot. After all, the characters create the plot in the first- no matter how small or big they are to the show. I have to love characters in the show. The characters are a huge reason why the songs become the songs we tend to love. We want the songs to complement the characters.
Finally- what about the plot? All three together create one. I have to love the plot. If the plot is boring, it will lead to boring songs and even not so amazing characters.
Now, what is especially important is the emotional connection to song, character, and plot. That emotional connection is where the WANT, DESIRE, and REASON comes from. It makes you want to listen the songs, go on the characters’ journey, which connects to the plot. All of the musicals I love I formed a strong emotion with: Wicked, Les Mis, Annie, Sound of Music, Phantom of the Opera, Rent, etc…….ALL have an emotional connection. Because of our emotional connection, it makes us love feeling the emotions in the first place. Positive emotions are the easiest to love feeling, but when it comes to negative emotions, that emotional connection is really important. After all, it truly matters what the characters’ lives and story are.
Yes, it will hurt at times in a musical. But, it isn’t our emotions we are feeling; instead it is the characters’. While we still feel the negative emotions, those have created some of the most beautiful songs in musical theatre. We end up loving listening to those sad/heartbreaking songs. “I’m Not Girl”, “Santa Fe”, “On My Own”, “I Dreamed a Dream”, “Empty Chairs at Empty Tables”, “If I Can’t Love Her” are examples of songs I love despite the sadness that they have. I love dealing with these emotions due to the emotional connection I have with these characters.
So, what I am saying about all favorite musicals, they all share an emotional connection. That is exactly why I love each of them. The range of musicals is quite gigantic: “Music Man” to “Les Mis”. That really does show a lot.
Below are pictures from favorite musicals of mine: not all of them, but some.
This is yet my 4th musical I have done. It seems as if we are still on the theme of classic musicals. Fiddler on the Roof is one of the musicals I love. Like Man of La Mancha, it is a bit difficult to describe why.
Of course, there are songs I love. The opening song, Tradition, which is also Fiddler on the Roof’s title song drives you right into the characters’ world and makes you already loving the songs. From “Sunrise, Sunset”, “Miracles of Miracles”, etc- the songs are a delight to listen to even the more emotional ones.
Characters- we have a protagonist to love (Tevye) along with his three daughters (I never can spell them right).
Plot- the plot is fun, happy, and a bit sad considering what is happening to the their town at the moment. There is romance: there is actually four of them: Tevye and Golde and the ones created by his three daughters and the ones they fall in love with (those I can’t keep straight).
Well, usually every year on my blog I do a short review of all the musicals I saw. This year it a bit different- I think it is the right year to include one straight play. That list is Fiddler on the Roof, Miss Saigon, Aladdin, Les Mis, and A Christmas Carol. Why was I allowed to include A Christmas Carol if it was a straight play? That was because of the importance and meaning of it in my life.
Fiddler on the Roof
I fell in love with this musical through the movie. I never thought I would get to see the stage musical. I actually was not expecting this to be my first musical- I thought it would be Miss Saigon. Turns out I was wrong. In the early part of February, my mom and I once again took a vacation alone to St. Louis (Yes, another place) to visit my grandma. So, I would be back at the gorgeous Fox Theater. It was worth everything- seeing a classic to start off the musicals was a great way to begin. Below is a link to the review.
My first tragedy of this year. I knew I would be crying since I knew my reaction to Les Mis. I knew that those who wrote the music to Les Mis also wrote Miss Saigon. That is exactly why I wanted to see Miss Saigon someday. This time, I was seeing it at Belk Theater. I had such a strong Kim and Chris that I really did not want their relationship to become tragic though I knew it was to be. Yes, I was in tears at times- like expected.
I had only seen the cartoon movie and live action movie of Aladdin before seeing it live. Another musical seen at Belk Theater. Ever since hearing about Blumenthal’s 18/19 season, it was Miss Saigon and Aladdin I wanted to see the most. I was not expecting to get emotional in any song- after all Aladdin is a musical comedy. Well, in this production, I got somewhat emotional during “Proud of Your Boy”. Ever since seeing it, I want to own the Original Broadway Soundtrack. Spectacle, comedy, dance, romance, emotional connection.
Another Blumenthal Musical, but at Ovens Auditorium. This was actually the 2nd date my mom and I had to Les Mis (the 1st being in the West End). As a matter of, 5/9 of the principal cast were in the principal cast I had in 2017: Josh Davis (Javert), Jillian Butler (Cosette), Joshua Grosso (Marius), Matt Shingledecker (Enjolras), and Allison Guinn (Madame Thenardier). I would have had a sixth, but got an understudy instead- I got an understudy for Nick Cartell (Andrew Maughan was my Valjean that night).
I did get the Fantine I wanted- back in 2017, Mary Kate Moore was nothing more than the 1st cover for Fantine (that was when Melissa Mitchell was the main Fantine)- when Melissa left the cast- well Mary Kate Moore moved up to be the main one. Her story really does show how we should never underestimate understudies.
So, I saw two tragedies this year written by the same team. Two tragedies that reduced me to tears. Les Mis still hit me the hardest- my tears started earlier than “I Dreamed a Dream”- that usually says something because typically that song is where I start tearing up. This was my 6th time seeing Les Mis. For more, look at the review below.
Yes, I am including a straight play in this mix of musicals. A Christmas Carol holds a lot of importance to me. It has been in my life for a long time- every Christmas season, my family watches the George C. Scott movie. This was the only show I saw at a community theatre (Theatre Charlotte). In many ways, I believe A Christmas Carol could have begun my love for the classics. It truly teaches you what Christmas Spirit is, why you become who are, and that you are capable to change. It does have a lot of nostalgia in it due to how long I have loved it. Its meaning to me is exactly why it can be included- I might prefer musicals, but this story is one that I love.
The first highlight of February was St. Louis. My mom and I went to see my grandma. St. Louis means a lot to me. Part of St. Louis included seeing Fiddler on the Roof at the gorgeous Fox Theatre. I only saw the movie of Fiddler on the Roof, but NEVER the stage show. St. Louis only was long weekend- a lot of the trip was spent inside. Never thought Fiddler on the Roof would start my musical year.
Lord of the Rings Films
Yes, this sounds like a crazy highlight. I fell in love with the series a while back. I wanted to watch the films, but the thing that held me back was the length of the films. This month I finally saw the trilogy- I am so glad I watched all three films. I am glad I did- I now want to own the trilogy films.
I did think Miss Saigon would start my musical year- instead it was Fiddler on the Roof. I discovered Miss Saigon through Les Mis- after all the music was written by the same people who brought you Les Mis. The musical made me feel love, joy, uncomfortable, fear, and heartbroken. I ended up forming a strong emotional connection to Kim and Chris- they are now a new musical theatre couple that I fell in love with. Now, there are songs that I keep on listening to. It is a good musical- if it wasn’t for Les Mis, I never would have seen Miss Saigon. I have come a long way since Les Mis.