Complex Musicals- What makes them complex

As several musical theatre fans know, musicals have an extremely wide range of plot, songs, and the characters. There are both simple and complex musicals. What exactly makes complex musicals.

For starters, let’s go into the songs. Those songs tend to have BOTH happy and sad songs- as in sad songs being strong enough to remember. These songs, especially at heartbreaking songs, can easily make us feel like we are hit by a pile of bricks: meaning having the ability to give us goosebumps and tears.

Second- let’s venture into the characters. These characters are complex due to having flaws, strengths, and can be portrayed in several ways. These characters are the ones who have an emotional journey. They tend to have a strong backstory to make them complex in the first place. Each time you see the same show, and something is added to the character, that would make them complex.

Third, the plot itself- They have the main story along with subplots. Their stories are powerful and come with incredible messages. The subplots do show that a musical is complex. After all, it means that other characters’ stories are important just like the main characters’ are.

I tend to lean towards complex musicals because those feel the most relatable, feel real and believable, and are truly “human”. After all, life is messy and complicated. We tend to have some of the strongest emotional connections in them because we truly can see themselves as actual humans. It is because of their flaws, strengths, backstory, and their emotional nature that we can see ourselves in them so easily.

What are examples of complex musicals:

  1. Wicked
  2. Les Mis
  3. Rent
  4. Phantom of the Opera
  5. Newsies
  6. Beauty and the Beast
  7. Aladdin
  8. Lion King

There are others, but those are the ones I can think of for now.

Things in Common between all Favorite Musicals

As all musical fanatics know, there are musicals we don’t like and at the same time there are musicals we love. While I tend to lean towards complex musicals, there are still simple musicals I love. While I tend to want spectacle or dance, not all musicals I love share that. So, what exactly is in common towards all of them?

Well, to make a musical, we need songs, plot, and character. It is extremely difficult to love the plot and characters if the songs are not good. That is one thing in common between all my favorite characters-as in amazing songs. That is usually my first step for a musical to become amazing.

Now that song is taken care of, it is time to look at the characters. That’s right, I look at the characters before the plot. After all, the characters create the plot in the first- no matter how small or big they are to the show. I have to love characters in the show. The characters are a huge reason why the songs become the songs we tend to love. We want the songs to complement the characters.

Finally- what about the plot? All three together create one. I have to love the plot. If the plot is boring, it will lead to boring songs and even not so amazing characters.

Now, what is especially important is the emotional connection to song, character, and plot. That emotional connection is where the WANT, DESIRE, and REASON comes from. It makes you want to listen the songs, go on the characters’ journey, which connects to the plot. All of the musicals I love I formed a strong emotion with: Wicked, Les Mis, Annie, Sound of Music, Phantom of the Opera, Rent, etc…….ALL have an emotional connection. Because of our emotional connection, it makes us love feeling the emotions in the first place. Positive emotions are the easiest to love feeling, but when it comes to negative emotions, that emotional connection is really important. After all, it truly matters what the characters’ lives and story are.

Yes, it will hurt at times in a musical. But, it isn’t our emotions we are feeling; instead it is the characters’. While we still feel the negative emotions, those have created some of the most beautiful songs in musical theatre. We end up loving listening to those sad/heartbreaking songs. “I’m Not Girl”, “Santa Fe”, “On My Own”, “I Dreamed a Dream”, “Empty Chairs at Empty Tables”, “If I Can’t Love Her” are examples of songs I love despite the sadness that they have. I love dealing with these emotions due to the emotional connection I have with these characters.

So, what I am saying about all favorite musicals, they all share an emotional connection. That is exactly why I love each of them. The range of musicals is quite gigantic: “Music Man” to “Les Mis”. That really does show a lot.

Below are pictures from favorite musicals of mine: not all of them, but some.

Unpopular Opinions about Musicals-the Couples

Yes, I talked about the unpopular opinions before. However, due to seeing Phantom of the Opera recently, I thought it was time to bring them up again. There are two couples that are unpopular opinions; one of which is part of Phantom of the Opera.

I still love Christine and Raoul as a couple. They obviously were either childhood sweethearts or best friends before Raoul met Christine again during the events of Phantom of the Opera. Raoul treats Christine better than the Phantom. Their main song, “All I Ask of You”, is one of the most beautiful and romantic songs I heard in musical theatre.

Raoul and Christine

I STILL don’t understand the whole wanting Christine with Phantom-AFTER all, the Phantom is destructive, controlling, and revengeful. She was scared and afraid of him. She was in love with Raoul. Christine never loved the Phantom. It is an unrequited love Phantom had for Christine. That I will never understand-this popular opinion.

Phantom of the Opera 25th Special

As a matter of fact, I saw the 25th special of Phantom of the Opera before, but had completely forgotten. So in many ways, it is like seeing it for the first time. Phantom of the Opera is one of my favorite musicals- as in being in my top ten. It is this hauntingly beautiful musical- that is all I can say. Now on to my review of the 25th anniversary special.

For one thing, it is Phantom of the Opera. Like Les Mis, it is one of the sensations in musical theatre. I have loved Phantom of the Opera for JUST as long as I have loved Les Mis. Phantom of the Opera is NOT only in my top ten, but in my top five.

The picture below is from when I saw Phantom of the Opera. That was at the Peace Center in Greenville. Literally, I was near the Chandelier when it fell, and that was one of the highlights of that afternoon.

For one thing, Ramin Karimloo is the Phantom. Not ONLY does he shine as Enjolras, he also makes such a talented Phantom. You can feel his pain and his destructive nature. You feel all of that in Ramin. The interesting thing about the Phantom is just how mysterious and suspenseful he is. He is such an intriguing antagonist. He is one those antagonists YOU can always feel sorry for, but at the same time despise him.

In front of a Phantom of the Opera poster

Sierra Boggess as Christine was another highlight of the night. I still DON’T what it is about Christine that makes me drawn to her so much. I still have a hard time even describing Christine actresses’. However, I can tell in Sierra’s Christine that she is afraid of the Phantom. She still is one of the highlights.

I really wish I knew what to say about Hadley Fraser’s Raoul, but I don’t know what to say. What I do know is that I STILL want Christine and Raoul together.

Any version of Phantom of the Opera is beautiful. That is in the costumes, set, and songs. I saw that last night. Even though the chandelier didn’t fall, I still loved how they were able to make this effect that something did happen to it.

At the end, like any special there were added moments like Andrew Lloyd Webber coming on. There was a moment where Sarah Brightman (the original Christine) sang “The Phantom of the Opera” with four other males.

Music of the Night

Just like there are multiple musicals I love that take place in NYC, there are multiple ones I love that take place in France. Phantom of the Opera is one of the most successful musicals. Now, why do I love that musical?

Songs:

Phantom of the Opera has this interesting song list. They are a combo of both haunting and beautiful songs. After all, you are dealing with a love triangle with a lovely and beautiful couple and an “opera ghost”. So, what do you expect? I think it has one of the best opening songs- yes, I just said its overture is incredible and that overture drives you straight into the storyline even without the characters. You slowly are being immersed into the Opera house. “Think of Me”, “Angel of Music”, “All I Ask of You”, Wishing You Were Somehow Here Again”, and “Music of the Night” are beautiful songs- however some songs in the show are haunting like “Phantom of the Opera”.

Characters:

I have some unpopular opinions when it comes to them.

Christine- She is our protagonist and after seeing the tour in 2014, I found an emotional connection to her. I still do not know her that well, but I do love the character.

Raoul- Here’s what I can say. I love his relationship with Christine. They make one of my favorite couples in musical theatre. “All I Ask of You” is one of the most romantic songs I heard in the musical theatre world. A lot of the time, my opinion about a couple comes from their main song.

Phantom- I always felt bad for him, but do not understand the people who want him with Christine. He is the revengeful, destructive, and murderous (yes, he is capable of that- he was going to make Christine choose between being with him or killing Raoul). Where does this ending up with Phantom come from- he responds extremely poorly to the unrequited love and his entire situation.

Plot:

The entire plot is basically a love triangle, but kind of fascinating in a way. It is full of mystery, suspense, and beauty. This is actually one of the strong love triangles and one of my favorites. There are different levels of complexity. The musical’s plot does not JUST focus on the love triangle, but that is the core of the show.

Christine might seem as if she is one-dimensional, but she is more complex- after all, she has her love for Raoul while still clearly dealing with the loss of her father and working at the theater as a dancer (the Phantom wants her to be the star so he pretends to be her “angel of music” that her father talks about). So if you think about it, Christine has more to her than just her love for Raoul. I still barely know Phantom, but still know Raoul is better for her.

Dance/Spectacle-Spoilers

Obviously since Phantom takes place at the Paris Opera house, you are going to need dance and spectacle. When I saw it at the Peace Center, I was in the orchestra-I was a few rows behind where the chandelier fell, and that particular scene is one of the best to actually witness and still one of the best act I closers . The costumes are extremely pretty and the spectacle of it.

Conclusion:

Phantom of the Opera is just one of three musicals I love that takes place in France. I just love the hauntingly beautiful feeling of Phantom of the Opera. It is something unique about the musical.

Favorite Song: Music of the Night or All I Ask of You