The Two Most Meaningful Musicals

While I am a musical theatre fanatic, who has multiple meaningful musicals, there are only TWO that stand out from the rest. Both Wicked and Les Mis entered my life at separate times in my life. Wicked entered my life: August 2006, and Les Mis: March 2013. I was only in middle school when I saw Wicked and only my first year of college when Les Mis entered. In simple terms, I will try to say only certain things that made each musical meaningful (will try not to go too much in detail.

Wicked

Emotional connection- where I first discovered the importance. Strongly showed through Elphaba, Glinda, and Fiyero. Especially in the case of Elphaba.

Emotional and Complex side- discovered both the emotional and complex side. All because of Wicked, four core emotions existed: excitement, joy, love, and sad (would be helpful later on). In addition, was the first time discovering what it meant for both a character and plot to be complex

Who did I see with- 1st time was on Broadway with my mom August 2006—this was really special, think my 2nd time was in 2008, 3rd time was date with my dad US Tour 2013, and went with Gardner Webb with the US Tour 2016. Look, the really special thing about GWU is that I was watching a musical that changed me for good with a school that changed me for the better. Even seeing Wicked on Broadway was special: was my first time and date with mom.

What I knew about musicals (overall): spectacle/dance; fore core emotions- excitement/love/joy/sad; the importance of emotional connection, and the emotional and complex side to musicals—-or so I thought

Favorite Actors/Actresses

Mary Kate Morrissey- Elphaba

Amanda Jane Copper-Glinda

Ashley Parker Angel- Fiyero

Les Mis- this might take some time

Before moving on, I have to say I kinda say that I had to grow into it. So 2nd chance was when it all began (March 2013). I kinda have to describe the meaning through the various experiences I had with Les Mis.

overall meaning:

  • Learned to love Tragedy the hard way– when I still was at Fletcher, during high school, I had told myself I will NEVER love a tragedy. I thought I knew the genre, but Les Mis proved me wrong. Well, had to give that film a 2nd chance- still don’t know why, but most about had some connection the first time (something tells me it most likely belonged to Fantine and the students). Said that because coming in, I already knew “I Dreamed a Dream” was a Les Mis song and coming out of cinemas, had “Do You Hear the People Sing” stuck in my head. Well, that 2nd chance is when everything else is history- here is one thing I remember about that 2nd chance on the film—I started developing a strong love for Eponine—so Samantha Barks became my favorite Eponine (that has not changed no matter how close other actresses get: being first is part of why), and I don’t know exactly where that came from, but eventually I think it had something to do with Elphaba.
  • Emotional Nature– one new core emotion entered (Heartbreak). All because of that, I have a deeper and stronger understanding of emotions. Les Mis makes me an emotional wreck: that response never fails starting at “I Dreamed a Dream). Well, the emotional and powerful nature in Les Mis was something new to me- had no idea how intense musical emotions could be
  • Death– well, some things surprised me about this. I really thought deaths were unmemorable and in no way would happen during a song. Proven wrong by Les Mis due to “Come to Me”, “A Little Fall of Rain”, and “Finale”.

Conclusion

Here is what I am going end up- naming each year I saw it, and then saying who I know for a fact is my favorite for some characters.

  • Well did see Les Mis 2013, 2015, 2017, and 2019: I think that says something about the meaning. 2015-date with mom in West End while 2017 went with Gardner Webb to Greenville during US Tour. 2019- another date with mom and some actors/actresses were same characters in 2017. Well, it is important to mention my 2019 Fantine-she was only in my ensemble 2017 and eventually secured the part of Fantine (she knew the role due to being understudy). 2019- got the same Javert, Cosette, Marius, Enjolras, and Madame Thenardier: standouts still Joshua and Matt. This could surprise UK fans, but while my strongest love triangle may be in my West End, but due to not comparing both 2015/2017- my favorite Marius is Joshua Grosso and Cosette is Jillian Butler.

Going to say here, who I know for a fact belong to my favorite actor/actress in the principal roles. Some, really have no idea. Some are literally that difficult- Valjean, Enjolras, and Fantine are the hardest ones to know who my favorite is. While Matt Shingledecker is a standout in the US Tour, Bradley, Ramin, and Aaron are literally basically tied with Matt. Here is what makes Fantine difficult- seven actresses. With Valjean, my top three are Nick, Adam, and Alfie- tough call.

  • Cosette- Jillian Butler
  • Marius-Joshua Grosso
  • Eponine-Samantha Barks
  • Javert- Jeremy Secomb
  • Thenardiers- Phil Daniels/Katy Secombe

What I know for a fact is that all of the actors/actresses I had seen combined have made the characters they are today.

Complexity of a Love Triangle

There was a time where I did not even know about love triangles in musicals. It was only couples- there was not a third wing. One musical would make me pick up on love triangles, and that musical was Wicked. It is between Elphaba x Fiyero x Glinda. It actually adds an incredible texture to the musical and actually , in my opinion, strengthens the friendship between Elphaba and Glinda.

MAJOR SPOILERS:

As with love triangles, there is always a couple and the third person has to put up with unrequited love. That is what tends to happen. In Wicked, Fiyero arrives and Elphaba can’t stand him. So it kinda of seems as if it will just be Fiyero x Glinda as a couple: we think they will stay together for the rest of the musical. A few months later- I think- something changes in him. He begins to soften up a bit and in class after a new teacher arrives with a scared lion cub in a cage, Elphaba is furious and accidentally casts a spell on the entire class, which for some strange reason does NOT affect Fiyero.

The Lion Cub Scene is very important on BOTH Elphaba and Fiyero. You actually realize that Elphaba has started to fall in love with Fiyero: now we officially have a love triangle. But there’s more- look closely at the way the two are interacting with each other: there is a strong connection and they are playfully sort of teasing each other- not as in being friends-as in a little bit more. It almost seems as if Fiyero has a crush on Elphaba. At this point, he still deep down doesn’t seem to be aware; Elphaba can’t pick up on this either. Ever since- he still can’t stop thinking about the Lion Cub incident- could Fiyero be falling in love with Elphaba?

Back to the Lion Cub Scene itself at the end- when Fiyero asks her, why the spell did not affect him, she was not able to answer. I actually do not think she was going to anyways because of Glinda’s relationship to Fiyero. She was trying to not steal him away from Glinda- she would not let a boy get in way. So- that is a strong trait in a friendship- loyalty. You really have gotten convinced that it will stay Glinda x Fiyero and that Elphaba will have the unrequited love from start to finish. Elphaba did get the entire unrequited love song, “I’m Not That Girl”- during that song, she found out just a few moments earlier that she had feelings for him and she still had innocence so that song can’t be vulnerable to the point of that innocence being lost- knowing the result of the love triangle can make feeling the emotions of unrequited love a bit harder to feel.

Lion Cub Scene- Fiyero and Elphaba
Lion Cub Scene

Well- so act II. Will things stay the same? Do we still have the same couple or will there we some switch? Fiyero listened to all of the rumors spread about Elphaba. While listening, he realized something: he actually loves Elphaba, not Glinda. So—–now we have an unrequited love shift going on. He is going to leave Glinda for Elphaba. Here is why you had to pay close attention to scenes such as the Lion Cub Scene- there were hints that maybe something was going on. Of course, Glinda was hurt, but like Elphaba—-she was NOT going to take Fiyero away: so these two best friends would never let a boy get in way of their friendship: it shows through how they both respond to the unrequited love. It is kinda of more difficult to feel the emotions for Glinda because she gets the shortened reprise of “I’m Not That Girl”.

Elphaba and Fiyero is a strong and wonderful couple. Their song, “As Long as Your’e Mine” is mystical and mature. These two showed their love for each other after the song. They ended up protecting one another- Fiyero literally told the guards to “Let the Green Girl Go”, which could possibly cause him to be tortured and Elphaba was constantly trying spell after spell to save him. They are probably my favorite couple- they are what I would call the unexpected couple. Saying they are a couple is literally a spoiler in itself.

As Long As Your'e Mine- Fiyero and Glinda
Fiyero and Elphaba

It constantly can make you ask yourself questions. You think you have it all figured out, then you realize you still can find more. It has the dreaded WHY question- the WHY as in why the switch happened- at least, it is more clear now. I am glad that “I’m Not That Girl” became the song it became- it used to be just a sad song, but later reached heartbreaking: as a a matter of fact, that song was one of the first songs I realized was sad to begin with.

The love triangle in Wicked is my favorite because it is 1)the first one I emotionally bonded with and 2) the level of complexity it has- the complexity comes from three complex characters, the development of the love triangle, and how it connects to the main storyline.

The Ultimate Song About Friendship

Coming off of yesterday’s post about what makes me love a friendship in a musical, there are love songs connected to friendship. Is there an ultimate song about friendship?

Major Spoilers:

I believe there is, and I think it is “For Good”, the one found between Elphaba and Glinda. Wicked is NOT about Elphaba, but it is actually about Elphaba and Glinda. It is about their friendship. Their friendship is powerful and beautiful, and the two of them are best friends. “For Good” is the most emotional song in the musical- before this song, the two have realized that this is the last moment they will ever see each other and have realized how much they have changed each other. Glinda was Elphaba’s only friend and Elphaba was the only friend that truly mattered to Glinda.

Their bond is so strong that they do not let a boy in the way of their friendship- I believe that is why there is a love triangle in the first place: it strengthens their friendship and shows their loyalty to each other. They each deal with unrequited love for Fiyero, but do not pursue him or steal him away from each other. I think the unrequited shift is important in that way.

As “For Good” says- “I have been changed for good”. It truly is the ultimate song about friendship. It easily is a tearjerker especially if you get an brilliant Elphaba and a brilliant Glinda- my last Elphaba (Standby Mary Kate Morrissey) and Glinda (Amanda Jane Copper) were like that- they are my favorite Elphaba and Glinda.

Songs Connected to Friendship

As a continuation of yesterday’s post, I decided to make a list of musical theatre songs that are connected to friendship. Friendship is one of the types of love that seems to be overlooked. Even some of the friendships are underrated, in my opinion. Some of them may not seem like they are related to friendship, but in my eyes they are.

  1. High Adventure
  2. Omar, Babkak, Aladdin, Kassim
  3. What is This Feeling
  4. Popular
  5. One Short Day
  6. For Good
  7. Red and Black
  8. Do You Hear the People Sing
  9. Drink With Me
  10. A Little Fall of Rain
  11. Santa Fe (Prologue)
  12. Carrying the Banner
  13. The World Will Know
  14. Seize the Day
  15. King of New York
  16. Once and For All
  17. La Vie Boheme
  18. Goodbye Love
  19. Finale B

My thoughts on Stephen Schwartz musicals

One of the composers I have seen more one musical belongs to Stephen Schwartz. He is a successful composer, and today I decided to write my thoughts on his musicals- as in the ones I love. They will be in a particular order- as in I will end on my favorite musical that he did. I loved all three of the musicals I am about to mention.

Godspell

  • I loved Godspell ever since I started college. Godspell was my first musical I saw at Central Piedmont Community College. What I remember most about that production belonged to some of the costumes. As a matter of fact, I did see three of the actors in future productions at CPCC. I did love Godspell- my parents did know I will love Godspell.

Pippin

  • I have loved Pippin since May 2015. I have wanted to see Pippin since I heard “Corner of the Sky”. I quickly fell in love with the song- that song told me a lot of what the musical was about. When I heard it won a Tony Award for Revival, I watched a preview, and wanted to see it even more. A spectacle- based, and a song I loved a lot. Too strong reasons for wanting to see Pippin. Pippin makes you fall in love with it very quickly- that is what “Magic to Do” allows you to do. The revival feels like you are in a circus. The Leading Player is an intriguing antagonist, and she does trick both the audience and Pippin
"Magic to Do" during the Pippin Revial

Wicked

  • Of all Stephen Schwartz’ musicals, it is the easiest for me to explain why I love Wicked. It is a story of two strong and complex young women who form a special and beautiful bond. That is rare in a musical to see that kind of friendship. On top of that complex friendship- you also come across an extremely complex love triangle. This is a musical where the friendship is much stronger than romance. As Wicked says- “I have been changed for good”. That is what Wicked did for me.
"For Good" during Wicked- Elphaba and Glinda

Conclusion

  • The songs in his musicals are both energetic and emotional. That is the type of music I want in a musical. At the same time, I want all the songs to sound like they all belong in the same musical- does that make sense?