Would Les Mis have entered my life without Wicked?

Think about this. Would certain musicals have entered without others? That is kind of a deep question. I can describe my musical journey through the musicals that are meaningful. There are two musicals in particular that are the most important in making me a musical theatre fanatic. They are Wicked and Les Mis. Wicked sparked the love while Les Mis turned the love into a passion. The question is would Les Mis have been in my life without Wicked?

My answer is no. There is no way Les Mis would have in my life without Wicked. It had to do with what I learned from Wicked. Plus- before Les Mis, I was against tragedies. I was only 12 when Wicked first entered my life- that was 13 years ago.

What did I learn from Wicked? For starters, I discovered emotional connection. Why is an emotional connection so important in a musical? The emotional connection is key to everything- it is our DESIRE, WHY, and WANT. There has to be a reason to want to go on the journeys of the characters and to feel what they are feeling. I discovered something else in Wicked, which is connected to emotional connection. It belongs to the emotions. I NEVER knew about the emotional and complex side of musical before Wicked. So emotional connection and the emotional and complex side of musicals were discovered all because of Wicked. There were four core emotions that were at the forefront: excitement, love, joy, and sad: the only four I thought would exist. I knew about spectacle, dance, romance, and comedy- everything that musicals have were ALL in Wicked. I had no clue all of that would be challenged, disproven, and tested- meaning things will change by a landslide.

Enter Les Mis. So- emotional connection. I already knew about that. However, that WANT and DESIRE would have to be extremely strong in a musical like Les Mis. So, “you think there are four core emotions- let us add one”. If I didn’t already already know about the core emotion of sad, I would be extremely confused about HEARTBREAK entering the picture. So Wicked would teach me things that would have to get stronger in Les Mis. Yes, in Wicked, I have a personal relationship to Elphaba, but not a personal relationship to the Les Mis character. However in Les Mis, it is constant HEARTBREAK- so you have be STRONG with the emotional connection. See if I didn’t discover some of those things in Wicked- I would have been extremely confused by a number of things that would be going on in Les Mis. In Wicked, I already was strongly attacked to a love triangle- I knew about that concept so I was able to easily find it in Les Mis. So if it wasn’t for discovering emotional connection and the emotion of sadness in Wicked, I would be very confused in Les Mis. I don’t think I would have wanted Les Mis in my life.

US Tour of Les Mis
One Day More

Les Mis would soon pay its favor back to Wicked- by the love triangle. “I’m Not That Girl” was only a sad song in the beginning- I didn’t call it a sad love song. I thought it would stay that way. “On My Own” would tell me unrequited love songs are heartbreaking- that song was sad for only one year (from 2013-2014). “On My Own” helped me realize “I’m Not That Girl” was heartbreaking, which made Wicked’s love triangle even more complex. Wicked’s love triangle is more complex and is my favorite one- I might be slightly biased because it is the first one I emotionally bonded with.

Do you feel this way? Would have some musicals not have entered your life without others?

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Broadway Night

Last night was the 2nd night at the Pops. This time, my family and friends were treated to Broadway songs. When it comes to Broadway, it is a Pops I don’t want to miss. I ended up wearing the Les Mis shirt I got in the West End to this symphony. I was wondering what musicals they were going to do.

First up- Sound of Music, a childhood favorite. They played all of the songs I thought they would. It included two from the stage show, which never made it to the movie. The songs included “Sound of Music”, “Climb Every Mountain”, “So Long Farewell”, “Edelweiss”, “My Favorite Things”, “Do Re Mi”, “Lonely Goatherd”, “Maria”, “Sixteen Going on Seventeen”, and “How Can Love Survive”.

Second up- My Fair Lady, a musical that entered my life in college. The symphony played a good collection of those songs. From “I Could Have Danced all Night”, “Wouldn’t it be Loverly”= among others. I still don’t know the names of the songs well enough to be able to recognize songs without the lyrics.

Third up- Grease. It played “Hand Jive”, “Summer Nights”, “Greased Lightening”, “Beauty School Dropout”, and “We Go Together”.

Fourth up- Carousel. All they played from this musical is the “Carousel Waltz”.

Fifth up- Les Mis. The symphony started with the overture. “At the End of the Day”, “I Dreamed a Dream”, “Master of the House”, “On My Own”, and “Do You Hear the People Sing” were the only songs they did. Even with just the melody, I still cried.

Sixth up- Oklahoma. “Oklahoma”, “I Cain’t Say No”, “Farmer and the Cowman”, “Surrey with Fringe on Top”, “Kansas City”= among others. Just like My Fair Lady-still barley know names of songs and even the melodies themselves to pick up on songs.

Seventh up-Wicked. “No one Mourns the Wicked”, “Popular”, and “Defying Gravity” were the songs the symphony used.

Eighth up- Music Man. The very last song was “76 Trombones”.

Different Types of Fathers in Musical Theatre/WIP

Yes, Sunday was Father’s Day. That day I made mention of fathers I do love in musical theatre. You might realize they all share a common theme- Valjean, Maurice, and Mufasa all LOVE their children. I thought to do the complete opposite here- what about talking about the fathers who shouldn’t have children- the ones who DON’T CARE about or LOVE their children. Some of these fathers are worse than others. Only one of them is not part of musical theatre.

Sarge’s father:

For starters, I know there are readers who know who Sarge is and there are a ton who have no idea how he is. He is my antagonist in my Fairy Frogs book- a bully. What caused that? Now let’s talk about his father- the reason behind his actions. Sarge was only around 3 or 5 when his mother left him.

His father first started mistreating and abusing him through words alone and then it got more physical- at 13, his father left him. Sarge only found comfort in “The Bog” in Graysloup- the only place his father never knew existed. The physical abuse is shown on Sarge- in my book, he has permanent scars. So, that is how extreme his father can get. Sarge is jealous, angry, conflicted, and confused. He is still trying to deal with the wounds of his past, which most likely will never heal. Sarge’s father never showed him love or compassion- nothing-it led Sarge to put his pain on others.

Why do you think Sarge became the bully that he is- his easiest target is Marge, his younger cousin. After all, her father is his Uncle, his father’s brother- who is a loving father. It is the hardest for me to talk about Sarge’s father out of everyone on this list- that is what happens when you are an author- you create the characters- and you do become quite attached to all of the characters- yes, even the ones who aren’t the nicest of guys.

Musical Theatre:

Thenardier- well, yet another abusive father. You would think it would hurt just as much to talk about Eponine and Gavroche’s father than Sarge’s, but it doesn’t hurt as much to talk about Thenardier only because I didn’t create him. Thenardier is one of the worst parts of humanity in Les Misérables. He is a pick-pocket, is despicable, abusive, and greedy. I can understand why in 1832 he had to steal at times- in order to live since the entire family fell into extreme poverty, but to not love your children. He literally raised Eponine to be a thief and criminal- he never showed her kindness at all. In 1832, you see he just used her to his advantage. Eponine was only shown kindness by one person-Marius, which is why she falls in love with him: at least he was in her life and was with her in the end. To make matters worse- he kicked Gavroche out. Then at the barricade, he didn’t care that BOTH Eponine and Gavroche were killed. One of the worst musical theatre dads out there. He is that father you love to hate and hate to love- in the musical he is comic relief.

Elphaba’s dad- her dad isn’t quite as bad as Thenardier. Her dad HATES her just because she is different. She is different only because she was born green. He later does blame her for why her mother is dead and why her sister is disabled. He spoils her sister while ignoring Elphaba. Elphaba is only HATED just because she is green by her father.

What are other musical theatre dads you don’t like?

Happy Father’s Day

Today is Father’s Day. This post will bring up loving fathers- my father and musical theatre fathers.

I love my dad. We have had created many wonderful adventures together, and some have been shared with my mom and sister. Just like I love my dad, he loves me. At Kanuga Parish Weekends, the two of us have been the hiking leaders. We once had a date to the theater to see Wicked- that was my 3rd time, and I wanted to go to give my dad a chance to see it, but he still gave me the better seat. There was a time my family went to Kanuga for Thanksgiving, and he helped me make a hiking stick. He was among the 72 pilgrims on the Bristol Pilgrimage- that is a lot of pilgrims (which includes the choir). Memories are shared with my family with Kanuga and Bristol (as you can see), but also in Florida and Missouri and other states- family memories.

What about the musical theatre dads? Are there loving dads there? MAJOR SPOILERS

Valjean- whenever I think of dads in musical theatre, my mind hops to Jean Valjean. He had to became a dad in the most unexpected of ways. He adopted Cosette out of compassion to her mother (it was promise he made to Fantine). He promised he made to Fantine on her deathbed that he would take care of Cosette. Cosette was horribly abused- she needed someone like Valjean in her life. Valjean kept his promise to Fantine- he raised her even though that would not be easy- he was an ex-convict.

Jean Valjean and Young Cosette in the film of Les Misérables (2012)
Jean Valjean and Young Cosette

Mufasa- another incredible father. He is father to Simba. Not only is he an incredible father, but an incredible King, but that time was short-lived thanks to his jealous brother, Scar, who killed him. Mufasa taught Simba life lessons that were important and how to be a good king.

Maurice- everyone in the town calls him crazy, but Belle never saw her father this way. Maurice loved his daughter a lot. He wanted to protect her- he didn’t want to lose her. Yes, I can understand why people of that town would call him crazy- after all raving about a beast and winter in summer-that is unlikely, but it is true what he saw. He wanted people to help him after Belle was taken prisoner. He was a little overprotective-yes, but he just wanted her safe.

Maurice and Belle in the stage show of Beauty and the Beast
Maurice and Belle

What other musical theatre fathers do you love?

Dream- Finding Out vs Living

Everyone has dreams. We all have a strong desire for something to happen. A dream comes in two stages- we first find out that dream is going to happen and then we are living that dream. It is two separate things. Finding out versus living. Both are different. Some dreams come true quicker than others. Some dreams are harder to come true than others. What is the difference between finding out and living? What made us create the dream in the first place?

This is most notably true for me with Les Mis in the West End. What made me create that dream. I created that dream in 2013-in the 2nd half. The true motor was seeing the stage show at Central Piedmont Community College. I already knew I was going to England in 2015 for a pilgrimage because the adult choir at my family church was going to be in residence at Bristol Cathedral for a week. However, I didn’t think about the possibility of my Les Mis dream to come true that year (2015).

Then there started to be clues- November 2014 and December 2014. November was when it was decided my family would go up two days early and December was when I was told I would see a musical in the West End, but I wanted to know what musical. My parents did not tell me anything- but I was impatient- I wanted to know in 2014.

June 2015- “the finding out” happened then. My mom texted me French Flag emojis and musical notes, and I was confused. I didn’t understand what she meant by that. I was told to check my email. The moment I read “Les Misérables”, I ran up to my mom crying. I still had to wait a month to live that dream. “The finding out” is only knowing.

July 30th, 2015- This was the “living”. The “living” is when things don’t feel real at first. After all, when I saw the Queen’s Theatre, I thought I was imagining it. The same thing happened when I bought a poster, the t-shirt, and the playbill (which was a culture shock). It still felt that way when I actually entered the theatre- noticing how close I was and actually seeing the set. I already knew I had an understudy as Jean Valjean- saw a sign coming in. I wasn’t exactly “living” yet since nothing felt real. It was the first notes of the orchestra that made me know it was real- that was when I truly started “living” the dream. Literally- just from hearing the first notes of the orchestra, I knew it was going more than expected. How can a few notes tell you that? Those notes were right- it was more than expected- even the ensemble was more than expected. Literally, I have NEVER stood up right at the beginning of curtain call- but that is what I did. In terms of staging- from the revolve to how those side pieces were used. Still- how can a few notes tell you a lot about the production.

On a side note: from any production or cast after, I don’t compare.

“I Dreamed a Dream”

“living a dream” is a lot more powerful than “finding out about the dream.” That is because you know for a fact it is reality instead of being told.

What exactly Makes me Love a Song in a Musical?

For any musical, the first step to loving it belongs to the songs. What exactly do I mean by that? The songs do not necessarily need to be singable. They need to be memorable. The songs do need to sound like they all belong in the same musical. It is very very very very very very difficult to explain what makes me love a song period. You do need to remember a song leaving the theatre- yes, but not necessarily singable. I used to think there ALWAYS needed to be a showtune song- a song like “Seize the Day” or “Do Re Mi”- but I learned that is not always the case. The song has to be a song you know you will keep on going back to- as in a song you want to listen to again and again and again without getting sick and tired of it- that is what I mean by memorable. Not all of the musical theatre songs I love are singable.

Examples of songs I love:

  1. Seize the Day
  2. On My Own
  3. Beauty and the Beast
  4. Phantom of the Opera
  5. Seventy Six Trombones
  6. Corner of the Sky
  7. Some Enchanted Evening
  8. Tomorrow
  9. Endless Night
  10. The Impossible Dream
  11. Seasons of Love
  12. Edelweiss
  13. Somewhere
  14. Popular

As you can tell, this is a wide variety of songs. From the exciting songs to the heartbreaking songs to the love songs. Not all of these songs are showtunes. I picked one song from different musicals I either like or love or happen to be musicals that are in between like and love. You can just tell whether or not you love a musical song. In order to love a musical, you have to love the songs- then there is no way to get into the characters and plot that well.

Character Death- How do I deal with It?

We have favorite characters. They either live or they die in the musical. I once thought character death would be UNMEMORABLE, and I thought it wouldn’t happen through song. One musical would change it all- Les Mis made me view chapter death differently- in a positive way. How do I deal with character death?

Major Spoilers:

Do the characters we love who die really die at the end? Yes, we just witnessed the death of characters. But are they truly DEAD. In a way, those characters aren’t dead. Characters like Fantine, Eponine, and basically a ton of other Les Mis characters die- but I have kept them alive. How do you keep those character ALIVE? That basically means they are alive in you. If it is a musical that is meaningful to you, their stories and songs are alive in you. So, even after death, we hold on to them- so they are not truly dead. Understand what I mean? That is how we deal with the death- we hold on to their stories by listening to the songs. As long as the show means something, the characters stay alive in us even if they do die in the show.

A Little Fall of Rain from the Les Mis Movie- Eponine's Death
A Little Fall of Rain

There is ONE more way we can deal with character death. Think about Les Mis. Songs like “Come to Me”, “A Little Fall of Rain”, and “Finale” help. We are comforted by the fact that the characters who do die are not alone. Fantine is with Valjean, Eponine is in the arms of Marius, and Valjean is with Marius and Cosette. Enjolras, Gavroche, and the students are with each other. See what I mean- songs help us deal with it. For some of these characters- their only true moment of peace and comfort is at their death- for some, it actually is their happiest moment of their life (you have to understand characters to figure this out).

Why is it so easy for me to describe why I deal with character death the easiest in Les Mis as opposed to the other musicals I have seen it in?