Musicals of 2014, 2015, and 2018

I decided to talk about the years where I saw over three musicals- those years belonged to 2014, 2015, and 2018. 

2014– this year is strange. It does not feel like I saw over two musicals. This was the year I saw Phantom of the Opera, Porgy and Bess, Scrooge, and Annie. This year for some reason only feels like I saw only two musicals- but it was a year of four musicals. 

Phantom of the Opera- I fell in love with Phantom of the Opera in 2013 when my mom recommended it to me. I requested the songs on Pandora, and instantly fell in love with songs. The songs were why I wanted to see the stage show in the first place. Hearing the show was going to the Peace Center in Greenville (I did not wait for it to come to Charlotte) in 2014, I asked Santa for tickets to the musical. Santa did get me my ticket, and he also got my mom a ticket as well. 

The Peace Center in Greenville is a gorgeous theatre. My mom and I were in the orchestra in the 19th row (I think). I was spellbound from start to finish and got choked up by the beauty of the production and the talent of the actors and actresses. I do remember having an understudy for Christine. So glad I got to experience Phantom of the Opera at such a gorgeous theatre. 

Little did I know that one of the actors in the ensemble was going to become one of my leads in a future production, and I would go back to the Peace Center 3 years later. The reason why I was at the Peace Center in 2017 was because I saw Les Mis: Nick Cartell was the actor in the ensemble of Phantom of the Opera who became Jean Valjean, a very talented Jean Valjean. Just a fun fact. 

In front of a Phantom of the Opera poster at the Peace Center

Porgy and Bess- Part of why this year did NOT feel like I saw four musicals was because of this musical. I remembered seeing it, but a few years later (maybe two years), I had forgotten what year I had seen it. So 2014 felt like I only two musicals. Porgy and Bess was a musical I enjoyed seeing, but not a musical I exactly liked- do you understand what I mean by that. 

Scrooge- This musical I think was another reason why 2014 did NOT feel like four musicals. I do remember seeing Scrooge, but FORGOT the year- this year I was reminded it was 2014. I do remember being moved by one of the songs that Tiny Tim sang, but don’t know what song that was. I was an usher for Scrooge at Children’s Theatre in Charlotte. I am a Christmas Carol fan so of course I loved watching Scrooge- don’t remember much of it- just remembered being moved by one of Tiny Tim’s songs. 

Annie- Annie is not JUST a musical. It is not meaningful in the way Les Mis is. There is something about the childhood musicals that makes them extra special in a way- understand what I am talking about. Annie was my favorite musical up until Wicked entered my life. My mom told me Annie was going to be playing at the Fox Theatre in St. Louis. I ended up flying up to St. Louis alone to spend a week with my grandma- so Annie was a theatre date with me and my grandma. Watching Annie made me feel like a child- my grandma and I were in the front row. I only saw the movie of Annie- the 1982 version. I never saw the stage show- it has been in my life since elementary school. The Fox Theatre is another gorgeous theatre to see tours in. Annie means a lot to me- the childhood musicals have a different kind of meaning than the musicals that enter our lives much later in life. 

At the Fox Theatre in St. Louis getting ready to see Annie.
Fox Theatre in St. Louis

2015– NOW this year feels like FOUR musicals, and I really love the order of the musicals. Half of the musicals are what I would inexperienced, and the other half are what I would call experienced. 

Music Man- I transferred to Gardner Webb University Spring 2015. I knew they were doing a production of Music Man coming into Gardner Webb. So I already knew I was going to see Music Man. All I knew about the show was that the main character was a conman creating a boy’s band, and that there was romance, and I had heard about four to five songs. For me, I was curious about how Gardner Webb could handle musicals- after all I transferred from Central Piedmont Community College, a college that can do well-done productions that feel professional, so my question was how well can Gardner Webb pull a musical off. I loved Gardner Webb’s production of Music Man. I love how light-hearted Music Man is, and is the best start to the beginning of 2015’s musicals. Little did I know what 2015 had in store for musicals. 

Pippin- I knew Pippin was coming to Charlotte on tour for a 2nd time. I missed Pippin the 1st time. I wanted to see Pippin so badly because of how much I love “Corner of the Sky”. A preview convinced me further- I knew it was a circus-natured revival, and that it won a Tony for best revival. It got closer and closer to Pippin’s opening in Charlotte, and I kinda got the feeling that I WASN’T seeing Pippin. I almost thought Pippin was sold out. Then the week before Pippin opened, my mom decided to get tickets- GUESS WHAT- she managed to get the last two tickets with seats together. That was a close one- I almost didn’t get to see Pippin- Pippin almost didn’t become a part of my life- that is kinda of a strange thought. 

Pippin was darker than Music Man. It was due to the Leading Player, the antagonist of the musical. Think of the revival as a circus with songs- that is the best way to describe it. I had understudies for BOTH Pippin and the Leading Player with me being more intrigued by the Leading Player. That’s a first- being much more fascinated by the antagonist- then again Lisa Karlin was the true standout of the cast- everything I know about the Leading Player comes from her. My mom’s last minute tickets got us seats in the 5th row in the orchestra. Pippin was what I would call “the spectacle show of the year”.  The revival version of Pippin has one of the best openings ever. Right at intermission- I bought the soundtrack. Pippin would be the last inexperienced musical of 2015. Coming in, I knew I would love Pippin- after all already fell in love with Wicked and Godspell, two other Stephen Schwartz musicals. 

In front of a Pippin sign at Belk Theater. 2nd of 4 musicals in one year.

Les Mis (West End)- this could take a while. I developed my dream of seeing Les Mis in London in 2013. In that year, I was aware of the Bristol Pilgrimage my family church was going on- the choir was in residence at Bristol Cathedral, and parishioners were allowed to go, but I did not think of the possibility of Les Mis- only because there was no talk of going up early or staying extra days. I was interested in the pilgrimage because of Stonehenge and the castle.

Fast forward to Nov. 2014- my parents said my family is going up two days early- that is when I started convincing my mom and dad to take me to Les Mis. Then Dec. 2014- I was told I would be seeing a West End show- but I wasn’t told which one. I badly wanted to know- it just had to Les Mis- it couldn’t be any other musical. I transferred to Gardner Webb Spring 2015, and all semester was nagging my parents to tell what West End show- after all seeing Les Mis in London was my dream. Then it became June 2015- my mom texted me French Flag emojis and musical note emojis- I texted her back saying “I don’t get it”. I was told to check my email- the moment I saw Les Misérables- I ran to my mom crying. I couldn’t believe- two years after seeing Les Mis on stage for the first time, I was seeing Les Mis in London. 

July 30th, 2015- show day. The moment I saw the Queen’s Theatre, I felt like that couldn’t be real. It felt that way when buying souvenirs, when seeing the set and when sitting down and noticing how close I was (we were in the 9th row). I knew I had an understudy for Jean Valjean. The moment I heard the first note of the orchestra- I knew that I was living a dream- that note also told me this is going to be more than expected. I am that girl who does treat the orchestra as a character- it was more than expected- the orchestra, the cast, and staging. It was epic in scope, full of such passion and emotion, and powerful. It felt like winning the lottery. I mean to live a dream is crazy- it is quite special to you- it seems surreal at first, but something does tell you it is real- it was the first note. I could on and on about what day was like. You get the picture. 

In front of the Queen's Theatre before seeing Les Mis in the West End- a dream come true
“I Dreamed a Dream”

Sound of Music- Here’s the thing, I was so convinced Les Mis was my LAST musical this year. Turns out I was so wrong. It wasn’t my last musical. It would be Sound of Music, another childhood musical. Both Sound of Music and Les Mis were the experienced musicals. The thing with Sound of Music was I only knew the movie. I never saw the stage show before. I remember it being about October (I think)- I think being in my dorm room-  my mom telling me I was seeing Sound of Music. I saw it with my mom and sister. 

Sound of Music had a different order of songs- one such surprising moment was at “Edelweiss”. Sound of Music never had sadness in its songs for me- turns out I felt it during “Edelweiss”- it seemed to be a combo of the actor and the nostalgia attached to that song- “Edelweiss” was and still is my favorite song from the song. So I cried during two musicals this year- Les Mis and Sound of Music. Sound of Music NEVER had sad in its songs before- so I was shocked that it entered- but it entered in the middle of “Edelweiss” at a short pause- that moment was so short, but so powerful- it was right before the children started singing.

In front of a Sound of Music sign at Belk Theater

2018– This was my 5 musical year. I graduated from college this year. I did not think it would end up with 5 musicals. 

Oklahoma- This was my 5th theatre date with mom. I was back at Central Piedmont Community College, the college where I started my college journey. I saw Godspell and Les Mis there in the years 2012 and 2013. As expected, Oklahoma was a well-done production. It had minimal set, and the actors moved the set pieces, and things flowed smoothly. It felt nice to see a show again at Oklahoma: two of the actors I seen previously at CPCC were in Oklahoma- they played Laurey and Will Parker, who were in Godspell and fun fact: the girl who Laurey was also in the ensemble of Les Mis. 

About to see Oklahoma at community college.
Oklahoma

Grease- This time at CPCC, I saw Grease with my sister and one of our friends. Just like Sound of Music, I had seen the movie, but not the stage show. So I did not know different the movie was. CPCC had gotten special permission to use four songs that were not originally in the stage production. The moment the show began, I knew CPCC did it again with shows feeling professional. I could easily tell just how different the stage show was than the movie: the songs- some songs that are in the stage show are not in the movie. 

Driving along in the Grease car. Fun musical.
Grease

Newsies- I have been a fan of Newsies since I saw the tour August 2016. So basically 100% convinced not going to see it: Best friend from college shows up at house: drives to CPCC: saying want to see campus: then saying wanting to see theatre while in will call line: all to pick up Newsies tickets. That is basically what she did: her graduation present to me was tickets to Newsies at CPCC. I just wanted to see Newsies at CPCC to see how they could handle the dance knowing how complicated it is. Fun fact: my Curly was Jack Kelly. 

Looks like I am in a newspaper. Newsies surprise!!!
Courage cannot erase our Fear. Courage is when we face our Fear. -Seize the Day

Lion King- I only wanted to see Lion King on tour because I DON’T remember seeing the stage show the first time. My mom, my sister, and I went to see it. We had orchestra seats at the aisle. The opening draws you in right away. I had an understudies for Rafiki and Pumba. I ended up getting a Lion King snow globe and buying the soundtrack. I already knew I would love Lion King. 

Girls Night Out. Lion King- in front of a Lion King poster.
Lion King

A Christmas Story, the Musical-I saw this with Club Blume, a young adult group interested in theatre. This might sound like a not good idea for a musical considering that its based off of a movie. The composer/lyricst team are the same team who brought you Dear Evan Hansen, La La Land, and Greatest Showman- I know this because of an informance I did in Nov. through Club Blume. The musical was funny and good and so were the songs. It was such a delight. Just like 2015, I was 100% my 2nd to last musicals was my FINAL musical- well it wasn’t. When I saw what musicals were in the 2018-2019, I saw A Christmas Story, I was not interested- then at the informance when I heard it was the same team who did Greatest Showman I wanted to go. 

In front of A Christmas Story, The Musical sign
A Christmas Story

There is a reason why I talked about 2014, 2015, and 2018. I saw over 3 musicals each year. My average tends to be 1-2, but those years were over 3. That doesn’t happen much. You might think 2018 was the best year I ever had for musicals, but it wasn’t. 2015 still is my favorite year for musicals: it had to do with the musicals that came with it: the new musicals- Music Man and Pippin were ones that I love and have the songs for. What really makes 2015 the best musicals was Les Mis in the West End- that was my dream- I lived it that year, and even words alone cannot describe what that night was like for me. 

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Heartbreaking Songs

To continue on yesterday’s heartbreaking love songs, today I thought I would talk about ALL heartbreaking songs. I was 100% blind to heartbreak before my first year of college, but I did know about the emotion of sad. So at least I knew about sad- one of the emotions part of heartbreak. Heartbreak is basically a more devastating form of sad. What are the other emotions associated with heartbreak? The ones I have found are anger, guilt, and loneliness among others. Heartbreak can hit you like a pile of breaks and can reduce you to tears. So now here is a list of the heartbreaking musical theatre songs.

  1. I’m Not That Girl 
  2. On My Own 
  3. I Dreamed a Dream 
  4. Come to Me 
  5. Empty Chairs at Empty Tables 
  6. Drink With Me 
  7. A Little Fall of Rain 
  8. Bring Him Home
  9. All I Ask Of You (Reprise)
  10. Wishing You Were Somehow Here Again 
  11. If I Can’t Love Her 
  12. If I Can’t Love Her (Reprise) 
  13. Evermore 
  14. Endless Night 
  15. Letter From the Refuge
  16. This Nearly Was Mine 
  17. Somewhere
  18. Will I
  19. Your Eyes 
  20. Without You 
  21. Memory
  22. As Long As He Needs Me

These heartbreaking songs come from a number of musicals- Wicked, Newsies, Les Mis, Lion King, West Side Story, Beauty and the Beast, Rent, and Cats. Some of these songs are more devastating than others. Some of them hit me harder than others. Some hit me like a pile of bricks, and some don’t. Some of them make me tear up while others don’t.  Heartbreak is one of the most beautiful emotions in musical theatre and one of the strongest. 

Heartbreaking Love Songs

If a musical theatre song is both a love and sad song, it will ALWAYS be heartbreaking. That is always the truth- that’s for sure. These songs can be ironic or non-ironic. Those songs fall under unrequited love songs, breakup songs, or if the plot is a tragic love story. What are examples of these songs? Below I will list some of those songs. 

  1. I’m Not That Girl/ I’m Not That Girl (Reprise)
  2. On My Own 
  3. Somewhere 
  4. As Long As He Needs Me 
  5. This Nearly Was Mine 
  6. If I Can’t Love Her/ If I Can’t Love Her (Reprise) 
  7. Evermore
  8. All I Ask Of You (Reprise) 

I’m Not That Girl was the FIRST heartbreaking love song I was emotionally connected to, but was sad in the beginning. I never called I’m Not That Girl a sad love song- I never combined emotions together- I called it sad. On My Own, just like I’m Not That Girl, began as a sad song, but after a year I realized it was heartbreaking- On My Own was key to realizing I’m Not That Girl was heartbreaking. As a matter of fact, On My Own made me realize all sad love songs were heartbreaking. The heartbreaking love songs have a combination of emotions- they can be home to sad, anger, and loneliness: it depends on the song and the actor and actress who is playing the character. Some of those heartbreaking love songs are much more heartbreaking than others: for instance, On My Own is more heartbreaking than I’m Not That Girl. 

Spoilers: 

It sounds crazy how some of them are ironic- that means the love situation improves in the end or you don’t expect the character to sing it. I’m Not That Girl is the best example- after all the unrequited love shifts from Elphaba to Glinda, which is why the song is sung twice. In addition, the spell gets broken in Beauty and the Beast, which makes If I Can’t Love Her/ If I Can’t Love Her (Reprise), and Evermore ironic. The same situation happens with This Nearly Was Mine because Nellie goes back to Emelie in the end. 

Non ironic- that means the situation NEVER improves in the end. That would mean that character might have unrequited love the entire time. In Les Mis, Eponine has unrequited love for Marius till the end of her journey in Les Mis- she does have a tragic ending, but at the same time, her fate is touching and moving and is home to joy. Eponine’s fate is death, but she gets to die in the arms of Marius after getting shot- that is where the joy comes from. So On My Own is not ironic at all. So the heartbreaking love songs are both ironic and non-ironic. 

The heartbreaking love songs are some of the most beautiful songs in musical theatre. They are fragile, vulnerable, and some of them are home to innocence. It just depends on the character and how much they love the person they are in love with at that point in the story. 

Unpopular Opinions in Musicals (Part 2)

I know I did an unpopular opinion on musicals before, but I decided to do it again. 

Major and Minor Spoilers:

No Hamilton Interest- many know I am a musical theatre fanatic. However, I have no interest in seeing Hamilton. I am listened to some songs on Youtube, but I have felt “meh” on them. If that happens, I never want to see the musical. So no way I want to see Hamilton. Many people respond by saying “but your’e a musical fan. 

Christine and Raoul- I love Christine and Raoul as a couple. I do not want it any other way. They are meant for each other. Phantom is too dangerous for Christine- he acts in revenge, is a murderer, and is destructive. So I am always a Christine and Raoul couple fan. 

Les Mis love triangle is not silly- You saw that right. The Les Mis plot line is so carefully planned that if you get rid of one plot line, the entire storyline falls apart. I love all three characters- with Eponine being my favorite character in the love triangle. Marius now is almost a core favorite character. Marius and Cosette are meant to be together and Eponine is meant to have the unrequited love especially because Cosette represents hope and light. After all, I am fascinated by the switch that happens between Eponine and Cosette. 

Love Marius and Eponine as friends- Yes, their friendship is NOT in the book. I love how it is in the musical. Marius never mistreats Eponine, and she always sees the kindness in him. His kindness moves her to fall in love with him. He is the only person to treat her with kindness- it is all she has in life. People think he did not treat her fairly- I disagree- he did treat her fairly. I know it seems that way when he asked her to do those errands for him. Look, at the barricade- I believe he sent her away with the letter to keep her safe from being hurt or worse KILLED. When he discovered she is dying- he stayed with her and held and comforted her- that is COMPASSION. I love them as friends- he never treated her unfairly. Without Marius in her life, she would not have any light- she needed him in her life even if he did not love her. I loved how he was with her at the time of her death- that was one of the happiest moments of her life. 

Want Marius and Cosette together- I want them together. They are perfect for each other. These two bring hope to the tale. By the end, all they have left is each other. Marius lost Eponine, Enjolras and the rest of his friends and Cosette lost her adopted father. I love the two of them together- I know people say “he should have been with Eponine”- I disagree”. I always wanted him with Cosette- once you understand why a love triangle is set up the way it is- you love it more. 

Marius is not a jerk- I HATE it when people call him a jerk. I did explain a lot of why he is not a jerk in an earlier unpopular opinion. He is kind, sweet, awkward and compassionate. If he was a jerk, Eponine and Cosette  NEVER would have fallen in love with him. He ended up fighting at the barricade- that shows an incredible act of bravery. At the beginning of act II, I believe he sent Eponine away with that letter to protect her from the uprising. His best act of compassion was at the time of Eponine’s death- he stayed with her till the end. He truly cared about her- it does show- he was devastated in that scene. He is not a jerk one bit- he is fully aware of Eponine situation- right after she died, he said to the students- “her name was Eponine, her was life was cold and dark, yet she was unafraid”. If it wasn’t for Marius, Eponine’s life would not have a source of light period. 

Must-See Musicals

What are Musicals people should see their lifetimes. That depends on what they are looking for. I am a musical theatre fanatic, who does have an idea on what a musical is, which is mainly based on what I grew up with. However, I do not mind if musicals do not match those. So this is my list of must-see musicals.

  1. Lion King – If you loved the movie, check out the stage show. Even if you never saw the movie, check out the stage show. It is a family friendly musical. The way they create the animals is spectacular. You will get hooked into the musical from the opening number. That scene is breathtaking. It everything you think of when it comes to a musical- it has the spectacle, the dance, the comedy, the romance, positive and negative emotions in the score, and a strong emotion connection. It has characters you easily fall in love with. There are a number of characters to fall in love with: Rafiki, Mufasa, Zazu, Nala, and Simba.

2. Les Mis- This is the longest-running musical in the West End. If it lasts that long, then there has to be something special in it. If you want a musical with a ton of emotion, Les Mis is the musical to see. It is filled with emotion- from love to hope to compassion to heartbreak to guilt to hopeless to etc. If you want a truly “human” story, Les Mis is the one to visit. The story is epic, powerful, and passionate. It is tragic and inspirational in so many ways. All the characters all feel like they belong in Les Mis because they directly and indirectly impact each others lives. All I am saying is that if you want a filled with emotion, Les Mis is the way to go. In this musical, it is so difficult to choose your favorite song or character- that is how amazing the characters and songs are. 

3. Wicked- This is another popular musical. If you want another spectacle and dance filled musical like Lion King, Wicked is another musical like that. If you want a story with a strong female protagonist, Wicked is perfect- after all it is not filled with one female protagonist, but two. It is another powerful musicals- it is about a beautiful friendship formed between Elphaba and Glinda.  

4. Phantom of the Opera- If you want a musical filled with mystery and darkness, Phantom would be a good option. It is overall a love triangle. It has this haunting feeling to it, but at the time, it has this incredible beauty to it.   

5. Beauty and the Beast- while it hasn’t been touring for a while, it is still an incredible musical to check out. It is home to this independent, brave, and unique, and caring protagonist. It teaches you that beauty comes from within. It is a very magical musical in so many ways.  It is very magical in the fact that the castle that Belle becomes prisoner in is enchanted- she meets enchanted objects like Lumeire, Cogsworth, Mrs. Potts, and Chip. 

6. Newsies-while home to basically all males, it is based of a true story, the 1899 Newsboy Strike. It is home to mind-blowing dance, which is worth watching. It is incredible watching their bond- they are basically one big family. Yes, I said, basically all males, but love that the reporter is female. Like a number of Disney musicals, there is romance: Jack, the leader and main character of Newsies, falls in love with Katherine, the reporter of the strike. It is so worth it in many ways.  

7. Sound of Music- I mean, who would not love this musical when they see it? Songs that are easy to sing along to and so on. See what I mean? It is worth seeing. 

What are must-sees? I know some some of these haven’t been on tour or exist on the West End of Broadway as of now, but still worth seeing at some point. 

Phantom of the Opera Milestone

It’s hard to believe I have loved Phantom of the Opera for five years. It is one of those musicals I have fallen in love with through the songs. My mom recommended the musical to me. I decided to request the musical on Pandora. The moment I heard the songs, I fell in love. I may not have known the plot yet, but I just loved the music. In that moment, I badly wanted to see the stage show. I heard it was coming to the Peace Center in May 2014, and I requested that my mom take me to see it.

When I went to see it with my mom, I was spellbound. I was choked up watching it. I could not take my eyes off of that stage. During the overture, I could not takes off the chandelier. The only time I moved was during the crashing of the chandelier. I fell in love with Christine during this production.

In front of a Phantom of the Opera poster

So now five years later, I still love Phantom of the Opera. It is a hauntingly beautiful musical. I always loved Christine and Raoul together. I always knew that Phantom was too dangerous and destructive for her. Eventually I realized that Raoul would never hurt Christine. Some favorite Phantom of the Opera songs are “All I Ask of You”, “Wishing You Were Somehow Here Again”, “Music Of the Night”, “Angel of Music”, “Think of Me”, and “Phantom of the Opera”. Just wanted to say that I have loved Phantom for five years now.

Are you a fan of Phantom of the Opera? If so, why?

Non-Ironic Heartbreaking Love Musical Theatre Songs

A couple days ago, I wrote a list of those heartbreaking love musical theatre songs that are ironic. But what about those heartbreaking songs that are not ironic at all. Those are the types of songs that are sung by characters whose stories revolve around unrequited love, the plot is a tragic love story, or something like that. Here is my list of those sort of songs.

1. On My Own- Eponine’s story revolves around unrequited love. I owe this song a lot. After all, it helped me realize that “I’m Not That Girl” is heartbreaking. It took me an entire year to know this song was heartbreaking. Eponine’s unrequited love story is one of the most intriguing ones in musical theatre.

2. All I ask Of You (Reprise)- Just like Eponine, Phantom’s story revolves around unrequited, but he does not take it very well.

3. As Long As He Needs Me

4. Somewhere- in West Side Story, the songs get more and more heartbreaking as the musical continues. This one is right near the end.