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 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 ate 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 each other: 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.

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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 spell in class. The first incident is when the headmistress sees her powers.

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.

 

 

Who is Fiyero?

Fiyero is the male romantic lead of Wicked and just like Marius part of a love triangle.

Fiyero is a character that is very hard to get to know. He goes through a very incredible arc through the course of the story. He starts out as a bit of a jerk when he arrives at Shiz. This one moment is important: he starts going out with Glinda.

In the Lion Cub Scene, Fiyero starts to soften up a bit. It almost appears that he has a crush on Elphaba, but deep down does not realize it. The Lion Cub Scene is his first big major character development scene. What is fascinating about Fiyero is that he seems to develop a lot during speaking scenes a lot more than singing scenes. All throughout act I, he has a stronger connection with Elphaba than Glinda foreshadowing act II.

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Act II, at the beginning he is hearing all of these rumors about Elphaba. He knows they are not true. This is the moment when he realizes that he loves Elphaba. So he goes from a jerk to someone who cares and now he has matured. To Glinda’s surprise, he choose to break up with her.  You find more maturity in him when he confesses his love to Elphaba during “As Long as Your’e Mine”. But you see just how much he loves her when the guards are about to arrest her, but he arrives and tells the guards to let her go. That to me takes courage. So he is also courageous and due to that, he is taken to the fields to be tortured.

Fiyero is much more complex than he appears. He starts out as this cool guy waiting to have a good time who is a bit of a a jerk to this mature and courageous young man. By the end, he has accepted Elphaba for who she is.

Making a Decision before Seeing a Musical

What do I mean by making a decision before seeing a musical? That basically means you choose to focus on one thing or you choose not to look up a certain element ahead of time and so on. Below I will give some example.

Wicked and my 4th time- before seeing it a 4th time, I decided to pay extremely close attention to Fiyero. By doing that, I was able to better understand the character and get a better understanding of the love triangle. He throws a gigantic curveball into it. By paying extra close attention to him especially in act I helped me understand why the plot twist even happened. By spending more time exploring the Lion Cub Scene, I came to a realization and that was realizing that he does have a crush on Elphaba but at the same time is not quite aware of it. My actor decided to already have stronger chemistry with Elphaba than Glinda. By spending more time with Fiyero, I was able to get a better grasp.

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Les Mis and my 5th- I decided ahead of time to treat this like it was a new show. That was because I had never seen the 25th anniversary before. Prior, I had already seen the West End show and loved the staging. But the 5th time, I was seeing the 25th so I had to treat it like it was new instead of comparing it to the West End production and saying that the West End staging is better. By doing that, I was able to look at the new production with fresh eyes. What the 25th production does is add a new level of complexity. I love both the 25th and the Original in different ways. Despite missing the revolve in the 25th, the production does make up for it in its own unique way. I love how the new production has a bit more color and love “Empty Chairs at Empty Tables” more in the 25th.

Newsies- once I heard it was Tony Award winning choreography. I choose ahead of time not to look up the dance in order to get more out of it. I was mind-blown when I saw the dance. No wonder it won a Tony Award. These boys were flipping, jumping over each other, dancing on newspapers, sliding underneath each other, and so on. The talent I saw in these boys was incredible. I just couldn’t believe they could dance that well. The fact that they danced so well together actually helped show the relationship the Newsies have. All of those tricks were incredible. It just worked and I am glad I did not look up the dance ahead of time.

Choosing some of these things before seeing the show can have a huge impact on your experience.

Musical Characters Who do not Seem Complex, but Are

Possible Spoilers:

Fiyero is an example of a musical theatre character who does not seem complex, but he actually is. A lot of his complexity comes from his role in the love triangle. The other part comes from his transformation as the story continues. He arrives to Shiz as a bit of a jerk, but does soften up in the Lion Cub scene and in act II, he becomes a courageous and mature young man.

About the love triangle, his  role in the love triangle is really complicated. He does start out as being in a relationship with Glinda so it seems like they are endgame, but you will find that is not true. Here’s the thing, in act II, he realizes he does not love Glinda, but instead Elphaba so that you leaves you with a question why  does this plot twist happen? So if you look at act I, there were hints that show he has a crush on Elphaba. Back to the Lion Cub Scene, it appears as if he has a crush on Elphaba, but he does not seem aware of it or neither does Elphaba. He can’t stop thinking of the Lion Cub scene. Than look at the chemistry: his chemistry is much weaker with Glinda and stronger with Elphaba.

He just is this character that is very hard to get to know. The curveball he throws into the love triangle makes you question and think about thing.

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Marius also is one of those characters. I know he seems simple on the surface, but there is so much more going on especially if you combine who he is from the book and who he is in the musical. You discover in the book that he has a political conflict with his grandfather and that political conflict makes him complex. Then in the musical, he is sweet, kind, compassionate, awkward, and brave. He cares about Eponine and is quite upset when she dies and since he stays with her when she is dying, that shows just how much compassion he is capable of. He eventually has to deal with survivor’s guilt after being the only survivor from the uprising.

So Marius has a lot going on: the political conflict, being a revolutionary, dealing with survivor’s guilt, falling in love for the first time and looking after Eponine. If you combine the book and the musical, you see a much more developed and complex character. My interpretation of Marius uses his relationship with the students and Eponine from the musical not the book.

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What are other characters you feel are much more complex than they seem to be?