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.

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Act I Closers

The ending of the first act in a musical is important. By that point, you usually know whether or not you love a musical. The emotion of the first act I closer does vary- some are heartbreaking, some are sad (but not heartbreaking), some are exciting, and some are empowering- it varies. Here are examples of act I closers:

Defying Gravity

One Day More

Hankua Matata

Climb Every Mountain

Santa Fe

If I Can’t Love Her

Wells Fargo Wagon

La Vie Bohéme

Let it Go

Morning Glow

I’d Give My Life For You

Crashing of the Chandelier

  • As you can tell, these act I closers do vary. You have songs that are either sad or heartbreaking like “Santa Fe”, “If I Can’t Love Her”, and “I’d Give My Life For You”. The empowering act I closers are songs such as “Let it Go”, “One Day More”, and “Defying Gravity”- those can also fit under exciting songs- which is where “Wells Fargo Wagon” and “La Vie Bohéme” fit under. So act I closers vary from musical to musical. Some musicals don’t have a song at all- such as Phantom of the Opera, which ends at the crashing of the chandelier. By the end of act I, you already know which characters and storylines you are are emotionally connected to. The act I ending is important- it is just as important as the finale of the musical.

Revivals- The Beauty of Them

I had talked about the beauty of tours. I never once talked about the beauty of revivals. The beauty of revivals is kind of similar to the beauty of tours, but in a different way.

Think about the musicals that you love that came out before you were born and the ones where you were to young to see when they first toured: for me, that included Les Mis, Phantom of the Opera, Sound of Music, Pippin, Annie, Lion King, Miss Saigon, and Fiddler on the Roof, etc. How would you get to see those musicals?

There is this lovely thing called revival. They are the ones that leave Broadway, and then eventually come back. I know Wicked, Lion King, and Phantom of the Opera have never left Broadway- all of them changed a little bit when they left especially Phantom of the Opera. Phantom of the Opera did use the 25th anniversary production- that is all I know.

As far as Annie, Miss Saigon, Pippin, and the other ones goes (the ones that came out originally before I was born) I had to see the revival production on tour. The revival productions allows you to see musicals that came out before you were born. That is the beauty of them- you will see a different staging. In my opinion, I believe staging does have an impact on how an actor/actress portrays a character. If the shows never revive- how will you see a number of shows? I never would have been able to see Sound of Music, Miss Saigon, Pippin, Annie for example if the musical wasn’t revived on Broadway and brought on tour. Les Mis is a musical I never would have seen on tour if it wasn’t revived on Broadway and brought on tour- I only said this separately because I saw it on stage previously.

The ones I was old enough to see- Newsies and Wicked for instance would have changed a little bit. So in a way, they were like a revival, but mostly the same as the stage show.

Favorite Musical Theatre Couples and Why

Major or Minor Spoilers:

Elphaba and Fiyero

They are what I would call the “unexpected couple”. You never expect them to get together. When Elphaba first meets him, she can’t stand him. He doesn’t make a good impression at first. Then the Lion Cub Scene happens, and he softens up a bit. You discover that she is starting to fall in love with him, but unrequitedly- you feel like he will always be with Glinda. Then he hears all of these rumors spread about Elphaba and knows they are not true. He realizes that he loves Elphaba instead of Glinda- so now the unrequited love shifts to Glinda.

Elphaba and Fiyero may be a young couple, but they are a mature couple. It clearly shows during “As Long as Your’e Mine”. They do protect each other- after all he protects Elphaba from being arrested, which leads him to possibly being tortured, which leads Elphaba to do spell after spell after spell to protect Fiyero.

Elphaba and Fiyero during "As Long as Your'e Mine"

Belle and Beast

This musical is actually a romance. The Beast is actually a human transformed into a Beast after an enchantress discovered there is no love in his heart. So she transformed him into a beast. The spell would be broken if he will fall in love and will be loved by another. The love also affected those who lived in the castle.

Belle became prisoner in Beast’s castle after taking her father’s place. First Belle despised the Beast. She saw how unkind and how selfish he was. After she ran away after Beast scared her for being in the West Wing, Beast began to soften up. He ended up saving her life, but he still had a hard time controlling his temper. Slowly over time, they began to have feelings for each other (“Something There”). Then at “Beauty and the Beast”, you knew they were in love. The whole “Beauty and the Beast” scene is so magical to look at. I don’t know what it is about Disney love songs- there is something magical about them. Beast was willing to let her go- Belle and Beast protected each other. After all, when Belle realized Gaston was going to hurt the Beast, she wanted to hurt him and when Belle came back, Beast fought Gaston in order to protect Belle. Their love for each other caused the spell to be broken.

Dan Stevens as Beast and Emma Watson as Belle during the 2017 live film of Beauty and the Beast during the song, Beauty and the Beast

Cosette and Marius

Amanda Seyfried as Cosette and Eddie Redmayne as Marius in the musical film, Les Misérables

One of the things I love about these two is how they bring hope to this tragedy. Cosette represents love and hope- so it makes sense why she and Marius ends up together. These two are some of the only survivors in Les Mis. While they have lost so many important people in their lives in the end, at least they still have each other. They are such an adorable couple in so many ways.

Katherine and Jack

This is another Disney couple that I love. They are my favorite contemporary Disney couple. Even the song, “Something to Believe In” carries the same magic that the classic Disney songs have. Katherine is the reporter of the strike and Jack is the Newsies’ leader. She does help him with the inner conflict he is going through in act II. Their love clearly shows during “Something to Believe In”

Katherine and Jack during "Something to Believe In" during Newsies

Christine and Raoul

Before the events in the story begin, they once upon a time were childhood sweethearts. When Raoul first recognized Christine, he wanted to be in relationship with her. Raoul is the one who would protect Christine no matter what. After hearing from her about the Phantom, he would do anything to protect her. I have always loved them- “All I Ask Of You” is one of the biggest reasons that explains it.

Christine and Raoul during "All I Ask of You"

Mimi and Roger

They are one of the hardest couples to explain why I love them. There are three couples in Rent, and Mimi and Roger are the main couple. They do connect in “Light in my Candle”, but do not become a couple until “I Should Tell You”. It takes about a lot of act I to become a couple. Roger is the one who is unwilling to get in a relationship while Mimi wants to. Both of them have HIV. These two struggle in their relationship at times and do fight at times- they still love each other despite the problems. I wish I knew further why I love them; I think a lot of it comes from them being realistic and their songs.

Mimi and Roger during "Light my Candle" in Rent

Conclusion

These are just a few of my favorite couples. All of them share a few things in common. They all are young couples, and they all have a main song that I am attached to. The main song is a key element to loving a musical theatre couple. A couple’s main song does show you that those characters have fallen in love. Usually it can be hard to tell if they have fallen in love or not- which is definitely true if the musical is not a romance.

Romance in Musicals

It is February, and I think it is appropriate to talk about the most common theme in musical theatre. Most likely when you see a musical, you will see romance: either you just see a couple or you come across a love triangle. It is not just love triangles that are complex- even a couple alone is complex. It is their love song that makes you realize they have fallen in love- but that is not always the case. MAJOR OR MINOR SPOILERS.

Disney Couples

I feel like there is something quite magical about Disney couples. Songs like “Something to Believe In”, “A Whole New World”, “Beauty and the Beast”, and “Can You Feel the Love Tonight” have something special about them. I love all of the couples associated with them. These couples belong to Katherine and Jack, Jasmine and Aladdin, Belle and Beast, and Nala and Simba. If you think about it, Belle and Beast are home to a love triangle- after all, Gaston wants to marry Belle for the entire musical. Belle and Beast is a couple that falls in love over time- first Belle despises Beast- then they develop feelings for each other during “Something There”- and then you finally have “Beauty and the Beast”. There is a heartbreaking song in the midst of all of this- “If I Can’t Love Her” in this stage show- or its “Evermore” if you watch the 2017 movie.

Love Triangles (Les Mis, Phantom, Wicked)

MAJOR SPOILERS:

Les Mis: Cosette x Marius x Eponine

The couple is Cosette and Marius and the unrequited love belongs to Eponine. Cosette and Eponine have literally switched places in life- Cosette had a horrible childhood while Eponine had a better childhood- then Eponine’s life gets even worse, and Cosette’s life improves when Valjean rescues her from the Thenardiers, who are Eponine’s parents. When Cosette leaves, Eponine is mistreated by her parents, and is raised to be a thief and criminal. When Marius enters her life, he treats her with kindness- that is why she fell in love with him- the sad truth is he is the only person who treats her with kindness- as a matter of fact, he is the only good thing in her life.

Then the love triangle happens- Marius bumps into Cosette, and the two of them automatically fell in love with each other. Eponine notices that they both love each other. She will do anything for Marius- she does end up finding Cosette for him. She risks her life several times for Marius. She ends up protecting Marius from her father when he was about to rob Valjean’s house (Marius was there at the time). This was why she went to the barricade, and why she sacrificed her life for him. I love how in this love triangle, you end up feeling for all three of them at once- first when Marius and Cosette bump into each other and second at “Heart Full of Love”- it starts out as a duet- then when Eponine joins in- you get so confused- you end up feeling heartbroken for Eponine, but incredible for Marius and Cosette- that is why you are confused. Marius and Cosette are such an adorable couple- those are my favorite survivors of Les Mis- Marius in particular.

Phantom of the Opera: Raoul x Christine x Phantom

Unlike Les Mis, the entire story is a love triangle. Raoul and Christine are the couple while Phantom gets the unrequited love. Raoul and Christine are an adorable couple. Raoul would do anything to protect Christine from the Phantom. Phantom does not accept, cope, or deal with his unrequited love well. His response is extremely negative- he responds in anger and revenge- he plans to murder Raoul- at the end of the show- he makes Christine choose between choosing him or killing Raoul (not the best response).

Wicked: Elphaba x Fiyero x Glinda

Wicked is the most complex out of all three of these love triangles. In act I, Glinda and Fiyero are a couple while Elphaba is dealing with unrequited love. She does not pursue Fiyero because of her best friend. In act II, the unrequited love jumps to Glinda- now Elphaba and Fiyero are a couple- that becomes the final result. So this love triangle has a plot twist- the other two love triangles has only one character dealing with unrequited love- Wicked on the other hand has two characters- both Elphaba and Glinda do not pursue Fiyero to keep their friendship alive. They do not let a boy get in the way of their friendship. I believe it shows their loyalty towards each other and helps strengthen their friendship. What I love about this love triangle is that it develops in the same way the characters do- it does not truly mature until the characters do. Wicked’s love triangle is my FAVORITE love triangle.

Elphaba wasn’t planning on falling in love with Fiyero. She could not stand Fiyero at first. He was a jerk at first- his overall arc is one of the things I love watching. He went from this jerk to softening up to becoming this mature and courageous young man. Elphaba truly matured during “Defying Gravity”. See what I mean- the love triangle did not truly mature until the characters did.

Why does the plot twist happen- I never knew why the first three times I saw the musical. I decided to get some answers the 4th time. I believe Fiyero had a crush on Elphaba at Shiz in act I, but deep down didn’t realize it. I believe he realized he was in love with Elphaba at the beginning of act II. He decided to have a stronger chemistry with Elphaba and a weaker chemistry with Glinda in the first act foreshadowing the plot twist. This was all based off of Ashley Parker Angel’s portrayal I saw the 4th time. At least- some things are clearer this time around.

Rent Couples

Mimi and Roger

  • Mimi and Roger is one of the couples that is NOT part of a love triangle that is complex. So you see, there couples that are complex that don’t need to be a love triangle. Mimi and Roger are one of those couples. Mimi and Roger are my favorite Rent couple, and I still struggle to understand that. They have have HIV, and have other struggles. They find an attachment in “Light My Candle”- BUT Roger is unwilling to be in a relationship because of some complications that happened in his most recent relationship. It is during “I Should Tell You” is finally when Roger commits to a relationship. They are a couple who fights at times, but still love each other. Mimi and Roger are the main couple in Rent. I find them to be a realistic couple.

Maureen and Joanne

  • This couple is the most problematic relationship in Rent. They fight the most. Joanne always gets so annoyed with Maureen. They are a Lesbian couple- that is something that is unique about this couple. Maureen is very crazy- it is very easy to notice it about her.

Collins and Angel

  • Just like Mimi and Roger, they have HIV. They are a gay couple as well. They make the most out of their relationship, which is especially clear during “I’ll Cover You”. They never have problems- unlike the other two couples. Knowing about their situation (with the HIV)- they live everyday as if its their last.

Music Man

Harold Hill and Marian

  • What I love about this couple being in Music Man is that it gives this musical an emotional feel. After all, it is a very light-hearted musical. So the main emotional feel belongs to the romance. Marian helps protect Harold Hill from being caught when she finds out he is a conman. I don’t think she was planning on falling with him.

Conclusion

If I go on talking about Romance in musicals- it would go on forever. Most of the characters who fell in love are young- as in their 20s and teens. Romance is a combo of innocence, magic, vulnerability, and fragility. The emotions vary as well- love, joy, heartbreak, sad, anger, and revenge- wonder why the negative emotions take up most of them in terms of the ones I can name. Romance does not have to take up JUST the couples- it also has to do with tragic love stories, unrequited love, and breakups.

Contemporary and Classical Musical Theatre- Which one am I (Am I Both?)

One of the most frustrating questions I am asked as a musical theatre fanatic is if I prefer classical musicals over contemporary or vice versa- what happens if you are both. I decided to talk about the question here. I will talk about a number of the musicals I love and the ones I am interested in seeing.

Classical

  • These are musicals people tend to think of that come before the 21st century. I will talk about the ones that I love that come before then.

Music Man

  • I love Music Man for how light-hearted and happy it is. I love its song and plot.

Sound of Music

  • This was and still is a childhood meaningful musical. The songs are fun and very easy to sing along to. Its plot is very easy to fall in love with. Sound of Music is very easy to fall in love with.

South Pacific

  • One of the things that drew me to South Pacific is the fact that it is a Rodgers and Hammerstein musical. Its songs are both fun and emotional. This musical is a romance, and like any Rodgers and Hammerstein musical, it focuses on two couples- one of which is more light-hearted and the other of which more serious.

Singing in the Rain

  • I love Singing in the Rain for some of the same reasons why I love Music Man. It has the light-hearted and fun nature. You want musicals like that to help balance out musicals out.

Oliver

  • This is another musical I quite enjoy. It has a collection of fun and emotional songs. I love it when songs in musicals (like South Pacific) are home to positive and negative emotions. Incredible plot- after all, this is based off Dickens’ Oliver Twist.

Fiddler on the Roof

  • Like all of these musicals, I love the songs in Fiddler on the Roof.

Annie

  • This musical, like Sound of Music, is a meaningful childhood musical. I have always related to Annie. I think that is why I always loved Annie. Its catchy songs, and its incredible plot are reasons why I love Annie so much.

Les Mis

  • There are several reasons why I love Les Mis. I love how powerful, epic, powerful, and highly emotional it is. I love how so intricate its plot- literally if one thing is out, the entire plot is ruined. The characters are so interconnected that they directly and indirectly impact each others’ lives. Usually in a musical- I know my favorite song, but in Les Mis- there is no way I can pick. Les Mis is the reason why I am passionate about musicals. Les Mis always makes me an emotional wreck- either by songs alone, the film, or the stage show. It disproved many things I thought a musical was growing up.

Phantom of the Opera

  • I love the spellbinding and mysterious nature of Phantom of the Opera. Its’ love triangle is dark, suspenseful, angelic, and beautiful. This musical is hauntingly beautiful in so many ways. I was spellbound and choked up when I saw it.

Beauty and the Beast

  • It is quite an enchanting and magical musical. Its characters are extremely memorable- from Belle to Beast to the enchanted objects. Its songs are extremely energetic, but at the same time there are the more emotional songs at times.

Lion King

  • I love how the animals are created in Lion King. Also love the energetic and emotional nature of the songs in this musical. It has such a memorable plot.

Contemporary

  • Now we are in the more contemporary musicals. It sounds like I love a number of classical musicals- there are other classical musical I love (just gives you an idea). Now we are into the musicals of the 21st century

Mamma Mia

  • Just like Music Man and Singing in the Rain, it has the overall light-hearted nature. I love how fun the numbers are- that is the main reason why I love Mamma Mia.

Wicked

  • Of all the contemporary musicals, Wicked is my favorite. Wicked was responsible for sparking my love for musicals. I love that the two protagonists in Wicked are two strong females. The story is about Elphaba (AKA The Wicked Witch of the West) and Glinda’s relationship. Everything- from songs, to costumes (everything) feels OZian. Wicked was the reason why I knew what an emotional connection was; what it meant for a musical theatre character and plot to be complex; and where I learned the emotional side of musicals. Elphaba is my all-time favorite musical character. Wicked is home to my favorite musical theatre love triangle. The only characters I emotionally connected to in Wicked are Elphaba, Fiyero, and Glinda.

Newsies

  • Newsies is one of the newest musicals of my life. I love the bond all of them share especially the intimate one found between Jack Kelly and Crutchie. I love seeing characters who stand up for what they believe in. The dancing I saw in Newsies was mind-blowing. The songs are energetic and emotional.

Frozen

  • While I still haven’t seen the stage show, I still love the musical. It all started with the film- I fell in love with the movie; the plot, the characters (except for some- the bad guys are the ones I did not like), and the songs from the film. When I first heard it was coming to stage, I was excited. I eventually began to listen to some of the new songs, and I fell in love with the new songs I listened to. I believe the stage show will be more emotional, which will mean it will be stronger and more believable, than the movie. I recently heard that Fall 2019, a US Tour be launched- cannot wait- hopefully in Charlotte’s 2019-2020: Frozen will be part of it.

Other Contemporary Musicals I Want to See

  • Anastasia- got interested after hearing some songs in 2018
  • Something Rotten- got interested after some songs as well (don’t remember what year

Conclusion

  • So, about am I a classical musical theatre fan or about a contemporary musical fan? I believe I am both. I know, I have seen more musicals that are pre-21st century. The musicals I see has to do with what musicals are on tour- and which ones I choose to see during the season. I am both- just doesn’t seem that way.

The French Musicals I Love

One of the main things I wanted to do more of on my blog is to talk MORE about the musicals that barely get credit on this blog. This post will help with that. I love three musicals that take place in France: Les Mis, Phantom of the Opera, and Beauty and the Beast. Of all three, it is Beauty and the Beast that does not get much mention on my blog.

The US Tour Cast of Les Mis during "One Day More"
One Day More

Les Misérables, as so many people know, is such a meaningful musical to me. It takes place in France post French Revolution and follows a ton of characters (mainly Jean Valjean), which all leads to the June Rebellion of 1832. It is tragic and heartbreaking, but full of so much hope, courage, and passion. It is about Jean Valjean’s journey on becoming a better person- his transformation is incredible to watch. There is a love triangle and rebellion- two of the other major storylines. It starts in 1815 and ends in 1832- that is a 17 year span. I learned a lot from Les Mis, and showed me a side to musicals I never saw before. There are so many rarities in Les Mis, and part of what makes it so special. There is something in Les Mis that touches your heart and soul in such a way that words alone can’t describe.

Those songs continue to touch me in so many ways. Usually in a musical, I have a favorite song, but in Les Mis I can’t choose one. I even struggle with picking my top ten. These songs are extremely powerful, and can hit you like a pile of bricks. These songs do reduce me to tears, but because I am so emotionally connected to the material, I have nothing wrong with feeling that way. I love a number of Les Mis characters that I can’t choose my favorite Les Mis character.

The Phantom

The Phantom of the Opera takes places in the same century as Les Mis, but in the later part of the 1800s. The entire story is basically a love triangle found between Christine, Phantom, and Raoul. It is a hauntingly beautiful musical with so much beauty and mystery. I have always seen Christine as the main character, and have always loved her and Raoul as a couple, and would not have it any other way. It takes place in the Paris Opera house.

Les Mis and Phantom of the Opera are so obvious that they BOTH take place in France.

Belle and Beast during the song, "Beauty and the Beast" in the original film
Belle and Beast

Of all three musicals, Beauty and the Beast does not make it that clear where it takes place. It is hard to notice that it takes place in France. However, there are clues that make you know it defiantly takes place in the country. In the prologue, it says “France” and even in the song, “Be Our Guest”, Lumiere has a line that says something like “this is France”. Look at characters’ names- Lumiere, Belle, and Gaston. Beauty and the Beast for sure takes place in France. However, what makes it so hard to remember that this musical takes place in France?

Well for one, the line in the prologue and “Be Our Guest” is only one line, which can easily be forgotten later on. It is still one of the three musicals I love that takes place in France. Like Phantom of the Opera, it is another romance that I love. Yes, Belle is prisoner in Beast’s castle, and yes, to some people it seems as if she is falling in love with an animal, but don’t forget the Beast is really a human. He is a human under a curse, which turned him into a Beast. So Belle did not fall in love with an animal. There is something enchanting and magical about Beauty and the Beast.

About the songs, they are a combination of showtunes, romance, and emotional songs. “Beauty and the Beast” is my favorite song from the musical. There is something about Disney love songs- there is this kind of magic in them- this kind of innocence as well. Belle and Beast fall in love slowly over time. Belle is against Beast at first, but as Beast begins to soften up, they slowly begin to have feelings for each other, and then fall in love. Both of these characters are amazing. I love the enchanted objects as well.