I have talked a number of times on my blog about romance in musicals. I thought to do something a bit differently. What if I brought up a few couples in musicals and my favorite pairing I have seen? That shall be interesting.
Nala and Simba: Nia Holloway and Jared Dixon
Love her Nala and his Simba. Wonderful pairing.
Katherine and Jack Kelly: Kaitlyn Frank and Joey Barreiro
While I only remember Joey Barreiro’s portrayal, I said they are my favorite pairing. I just can’t help but think about Joey. That is why I said these two are my favorite pairing- all because of Joey.
Jasmine and Aladdin: Naomi Scott and Mena Massoud
Yes, my favorite pairing is from the live action Aladdin movie. That could soon change: if I see Aladdin in person in September.
Belle and Beast: Emma Watson and Dan Stevens
So, I have two favorite Disney pairings from live action Disney movies.
Kim and Chris: Emily Bautista and Anthony Festa
Well, they are the only Kim and Chris I saw.
Christine and Raoul: Grace Morgan and Ben Jacoby
I may not remember anything about their Christine and Raoul. However, they currently are my favorite Christine and Raoul. I still remember my reaction during Phantom of the Opera: spellbound and choked up. That does say something. I remember getting attached to Christine in May of 2014.
Cosette and Marius: Jillian Butler and Joshua Grosso
I don’t really need to explain the two of them (I have said I believe, a lot about Joshua’s Marius). The reason why I remember Jillian’s Cosette so well is because of Joshua’s Marius. They are such an adorable couple- which I can’t explain.
Elphaba and Fiyero: Mary Kate Morrissey and Ashley Parker Angel
Of four casts, they are the only Elphaba and Fiyero I remember. It is crazy how just saying that Elphaba and Fiyero are a couple is a spoiler in itself.
What do I mean by the non-survivors? These are the characters who die in musicals. So this will be SPOILER HEAVY. I used to think a character death would not be memorable, but I learned my lesson.
Enjolras and the students
It was Les Mis that taught me that I can love a character death. I love more characters who survive than characters who don’t survive. A lot of that it because I can’t think of more. Death in musicals are not EASY to watch, but you have to understand WHY they had to happen- all of these deaths had to happen. Yes, character death is sad, and you are heartbroken because you loved the character. The only way they will continue to live is in you.
There was a time when I had this negative view on death in a musical. I believed that death was ALWAYS going to be unmemorable. How can you fall in love with watching a death scene? I truly believed that if it was going to happen with a core favorite character- after all you are going to feel angry with the fact that they are going to be killed off. I even believed that there is no way it could happen during a song- that seemed like there has a high chance that could NEVER happen. That was only because growing up, I never once came across a death song.
After Les Mis entered: Major Spoilers
All of those thoughts I had would soon be tested. Les Mis was the musical that would go against everything. Les Mis has songs such as “Javert’s Suicide”, “A Little Fall of Rain”, and “Come to Me”- all songs that deal with a death or happen while a character is dying. So my thought on a song could NEVER happen during a death scene was disproven. Even my thought on a character’s death could NEVER be memorable was disproven as well. In Les Mis, characters’ deaths are memorable.
“Come to Me” is a memorable death scene. This is Fantine’s death scene. She has been fired and lost her hair, and became prostitute. She has been through some very awful things. She did what she did for the sake of her daughter, Cosette. Even while she was dying, she still was thinking about Cosette. She was still worried about what would happen to her. Valjean was with her while she was dying. “Come to Me” is memorable in the fact that Valjean promised that he would raise Cosette- so Fantine is able to die in peace. The fact that Fantine did not have to die alone- she was shown compassion by Valjean.
“A Little Fall of Rain” is also a memorable death. This time, Eponine is dying from a gunshot wound after sacrificing herself to protect Marius. During this scene, Marius is devastated, but ended up showing her compassion by holding and comforting her while she dies. Eponine is dying in the arms of Marius, the love of her life, who is also the only good thing in her life because he is the only person who showed her kindness. So I just gave you two examples of memorable deaths in just one musical. In “A Little Fall of Rain”, I am heartbroken for BOTH Eponine and Marius, but feel joy knowing that this is Eponine’s happiest moment of her life despite the fact that she is dying.
Tragic Love Stories:
Here is where things can be messy. If you fall in love with the couple, you don’t want it to end tragically, but it WILL. I know this first hand due to recently seeing Miss Saigon and falling in love with Kim and Chris as a couple. Even Kim’s death was memorable- like the other two I mentioned- she wasn’t alone. Chris was there- he actually realized he always loved her- I believe more than Ellen- that was how good Emily Bautista and Anthony Festa were as Kim and Chris. I can especially tell due to Anthony’s Chris’ cry at the very end- he realized just how much he loved Kim. Kim died to give her son, Tam, a better life- another reason why it is a memorable death.
Yes, deaths in a musical are devastating, but they can be memorable. The first time, you are shocked. You are like “but I loved that character, why did they have to die?”. You soon realize they are meant to die even each time, you hope that doesn’t happen, but you can’t change it- that death will always happen.
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.
Why did I want to see Miss Saigon? Wanting to see Miss Saigon comes from Les Mis. I discovered Miss Saigon through Les Mis. When I heard that those who wrote the music to Miss Saigon wrote the music to Les Mis, I knew I eventually wanted to watch Miss Saigon. I had no idea if I ever would see Miss Saigon- it felt like it hadn’t been on tour for a very long time. During Charlotte’s 2018-2019 season, I discovered Miss Saigon was coming. It was the main musical I wanted to see- tickets to see Miss Saigon with my mom and dad were in my stocking at Christmas. I was excited that I was going to see it. Miss Saigon is a tragic love story. So glad Les Mis taught me that I can love tragedies.
Engineer- Eymard Cabling
Kim- Emily Bautista
Chris- Anthony Festa
Gigi- Christine Bunuan
John- J. Daughtry
Ellen- Stacie Bono
Thuy- Jinwoo Jung
Tam- Jace Chen
In the last days of the Vietnam War, 17-year-old Kim is forced to work in a bar run by a notorious character known as the Engineer. There she meets and falls in love with an American G.I. named Chris but they are torn apart by the fall of Saigon.
-Blumenthal Performing Arts
Major or Minor Spoilers:
Eymard Cabling showed out the villainous side of the Engineer perfectly. You can clearly see it in the beginning of the musical to the end. He does give you a laugh from time to time. I loved how I had that laugh- it was needed.
Emily Bautista’s Kim was both a victim and a fighter. I saw her Kim both ways. In the beginning, her Kim was more of a victim. I almost cried during “Movie in the Mind”- that song was shared with Christine Bunuan’s Gigi. It showed both of them as victims. Emily’s Kim had this vulnerable side of things. She had incredible chemistry with Anthony’s Festa’s Chris- I felt like they were in love- I wanted them to stay together even though I knew it wasn’t to be. I was emotionally connected to her Kim- I could see a strength in Kim. She was a fighter when it came to her son, Tam- that was admirable in so many ways. She wanted him to have a better life.
As I said with Emily Bautista, Anthony Festa’s Chris had incredible chemistry with her. Their chemistry made me want them to stay together- I did not want it to end to in tragic circumstances. “Sun and Moon” made me cry- I was not expecting that during that song. His vocals were incredible- you first noticed it during “Why God Why”. Tragic love stories are tough- if you have two actors like Anthony and Emily who feel like they are in love, you want them to stay together- you don’t want it to be tragic.
J. Daughtry’s John truly didn’t shine until Bui Doi. He was just perfect during that number. The hardest thing about Stacie Bono as Ellen is having you feel anything for her- the problem had to do with Emily and Anthony. I struggled with Ellen. I loved Kim and Chris as a couple- Emily and Anthony being the Kim and Chris that they are, it made it difficult to get into Stacie’s Ellen.
The staging was incredible to watch. Yes, at times, it can be difficult to watch- it was the emotional connection to Kim and Chris that kept me going. I loved some of the spectacle and dance I saw in some of the scenes. One moment made me wish I was in another section of the theatre- there was a scene with lights pointing directly at you that you had to block out the brightest lights to see what was going on. It made me uncomfortable- don’t know if that was the scene’s intention- to make you feel uncomfortable or was it the seat I was in?
In terms of the songs- I did cry at times, which I had a feeling it would knowing how Les Mis affected me. “Movie in my Mind” almost made me cry, “Sun and Moon”/ “Last Night of the World”/ “I’d Give My Life For You” all made me cry. I did not think the song,”Sun and Moon”, would make me cry, but it did- it does tell me just how incredible Anthony and Emily were- it made me want their romance to work out despite knowing it was going to be tragic. The ending did satisfy me- tragic love stories are rough in the ending due to how it turns out, but they still need to be satisfying. SPOILER: At the end of the musical, Kim sacrificed herself to give Tam a better life. Chris saw this, and ran to Kim. She ended up dying in Chris’ arms- I believe at the end, Chris realized that he still was in love with Kim- based on his reaction at the end of this scene.
I did feel heartbroken, terrified, love, joy and uncomfortable watching Miss Saigon.