Importance of Ovens Auditorium

Blumenthal Performing Arts is home to about seven theaters. Their main theater is Belk Theater. At Belk, you can see operas, musicals, symphonies, and ballet. I saw Sound of Music, Miss Saigon, Aladdin, Lion King, Newsies, Pippin, Rent, Come From Away, Mamma Mia, Porgy and Bess, and La Cage at Belk. As for operas and ballet, saw La Bohème and Nutcracker there.

Despite Belk being the main theater, it isn’t even the largest. That really surprised me when I learned that Ovens is actually bigger- Belk may have more levels, but Ovens is wider and deeper. If Ovens didn’t exist, there is a good chance many musicals never would have made it to Charlotte. Ovens is able to host musicals when something is happening at Belk. So Ovens allows for a lot more availability.

While I did not see many musicals at Ovens—–I am glad that Ovens does exist or else none of them might have made it to Blumenthal. I saw Addams Family, A Christmas Story-The Musical, Les Mis, and Wicked at Ovens. Whenever I think of Ovens, I think of Wicked: I was able to catch that musical three times on tour. The latest time I saw Wicked, I was watching it with my school. When I saw Les Mis at Ovens, it was a date with my mom: that was our 2nd date to Les Mis: the 1st was in London.

I did not like ALL the Blumenthal shows I saw, but defiantly liked most. Addams Family, Porgy and Bess, and La Cage were musicals I did not even like.

Common Trait Among Tragedies

Tragedy is a genre that can be hard to understand at first. Those stories sound like they are just sad. But in reality not true- that “catharsis” is why they are worth. I really started to notice something that is true for just about every tragic musical. Why is that just about all of them fall under the sung-through category?

The only tragic musical that is not sung-through is West Side Story, a modern version of Romeo and Juliet. This musical is dance-driven. For some odd reason, I can appreciate West Side Story and dislike the play that it is based off of.

Look at the other tragic and sad musicals: Les Mis, Miss Saigon, Rent, and Hadestown. They all just happen to be sung-through musicals. I may not have seen Hadestown yet, but for whatever reason know it is sung-through. When I read Les Misérables, the material sounded perfect for being sung-through: due to the emotional nature of the book. Both Rent and Miss Saigon are based off two operas: La Bohème and Madame Butterfly: those two operas are sung-through. Now Hadestown- yet another tragedy and still in that nature. For some strange reason, tragedies can be best expressed when the show is entirely sung. That is all because of the emotional weight tragedies bring-they have to be heartbreaking, but at the same time have so much more. Or else, they would become kind of bland and boring.

I don’t have a picture for Hadestown because I haven’t seen it. I am extremely fascinated by Hadestown especially because it is based off of a tragic myth. I have loved mythology since I was a child. Now I heard three songs from Hadetown, and love them. Charlotte is going to get Hadestown October 2021- hopefully Blumenthal doesn’t postpone the show.

Did you notice this-a lot of tragic musicals being sung-through? Why do you think that just happens to be a pattern?

Favorite Actors/Actresses in Roles

Well, now I will write a list of my favorite actors in various roles. I know some people have seen these actors before. You don’t have to agree with everything-these are only opinions. Yes, there were be some casts where I might leave a character off- that happens to be the case if I don’t remember the others or have a hard time deciding. In addition, will be missing some shows I love.

  1. Elphaba- Mary Kate Morrissey
  2. Glinda- Amanda Jane Copper
  3. Fiyero- Ashley Parker Angel
  4. Jack Kelly- Joey Barreiro
  5. Javert- Jeremy Secomb
  6. Cosette- Jillian Butler
  7. Eponine- Samantha Barks
  8. Marius- Joshua Grosso
  9. Thenardiers- Phil Daniels and Katy Secombe
  10. Kim- Emily Bautista
  11. Chris- Anthony Festa
  12. Ellen-Stacie Bono
  13. John- J. Daughtry
  14. The Engineer- Eymard Cabling
  15. Sophie- Amanda Seyfried
  16. Maria- Julie Andrews
  17. Aladdin- Mena Massoud
  18. Jasmine- Naomi Scott
  19. Babkak, Omar, and Kassim- Zach Bencal, Ben Chavez Colt Prattez
  20. Beast- Dan Stevens
  21. Belle- Emma Watson
  22. Simba- Jared Nixon
  23. Nala- Nia Halloway
  24. Joseph- Donny Osmond
  25. Leading Player- Lisa Karlin
  26. Pippin- Sam Lips

This list is all I have for now.

Some of these actors have no choice, but to be my favorite. That ends up being the case if I only have one cast or if they are the only ones I remember. A few of these are understudies: Mary Kate Morrissey, Lisa Karlin, and Eymard Cabling. A few of them were the first in a role- so that sometimes gives them a huge advantage.

What about you, what are some of your favorite actors in a role?

Tragedies-The Love Stories

The genre of tragedy can be hard to get used to when it is first discovered. It is so easy to call it just sad. That means it can be hard that they have so much more than just the tragic and heartbreaking nature. I know this from experience- I did once say “I will never love a tragedy. But then Les Mis enters, and everything changed. Today’s post will focus on only the love stories-as in romance.

I think the most predictable tragedies belong to the love stories. You already know that it will not end well. You know something has to happen where the couple can’t be together. You already know the ending will be tragic.

What are examples of tragic love stories:

  1. La Bohème
  2. Madame Butterfly
  3. Romeo and Juliet
  4. Miss Saigon
  5. West Side Story
  6. Hadestown

A lot of people say that Romeo and Juliet is the “ultimate love story”-as in the best. But I actually disagree. The best tragic love story I have come across is “La Bohème”. Did you know it was “Romeo and Juliet” where I first discovered tragedies. That Shakespeare play was required in 9th grade: not only was I close-minded to Romeo and Juliet, but to Shakespeare as well. La Bohéme will always be better: such a beautiful relationship despite some complications: Rodolfo and Mimi are one of my favorite couples: I sometimes wonder if those two are one of my favorite couples: would that explain why I love Mimi and Roger as a couple.

Respect the Understudies

There is an important thing in musicals that do not get the respect and appreciation. These belong to understudies, and if they did not exist, so many musicals would be cancelled. When the main actor is out for the day, the understudies cover for them, and a swing comes in to play the part that the understudies usually play.

Grace Morgan (Christine), Mary Kate Morrissey (Elphaba), Lisa Karlin (Leading Player), Sam Lips (Pippin), Adam Bayjou (Valjean), Talia Simone Robinson (Eponine), Eymard Cabling (The Engineer), and Andrew Maughan (Valjean) were all understudies. However, only of them was a standby, which was Mary Kate Morrissey- when you have a standby, a swing is not involved since the standby is not part of the ensemble. One of my actresses I saw had an incredible journey to eventually landing the main part.

It belonged to one of my Fantine actresses. I actually saw her in Les Mis twice- 2017 and 2019. Back in 2017, I only saw her in the ensemble, but for the tour she was also cast as 1st cover Fantine. In 2017, Melissa Mitchell, who I saw as Fantine, was the main actress. After she left, Mary Kate Moore ended up becoming the main Fantine. So when 2019 happened, Mary Kate Moore was still Fantine, and still was the main one when I actually saw the show that year. I was hoping I would get her, and I did.

So you see, in the same show, an understudy has the talent to eventually move up to to a lead role. Mary Kate Moore is one of the important ones to bring up. I saw her start as an ensemble member and later the main role. Whenever I think of that character, she is the one I talk about. After all, actors/actresses like her don’t get the respect and appreciation that they deserve.

Even Nick Cartell and Anthony Festa moved up- the difference was not in the same musical. Nick was in the ensemble of Phantom of the Opera, and was also an understudy as Raoul. He was my Valjean in 2017, and he actually ended up being one of top three Valjean actors. With Anthony, I first saw him in Wicked in the ensemble, and was an understudy for Fiyero as well. In 2019, he was my Chris. Both Nick and Anthony moved up from understudy to securing a main role.

So all three actors started out at only in the ensemble and an understudy, but eventually moved up to a lead role. So it is important to respect them even before they were a lead role. Those three are strong examples of why. They had the talent to become the characters they eventually became.