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.

Musical Movies I Would Recommend

If you live outside of a place that isn’t well known for musical, there still has to be a way to exposed to musicals. Well, this is when musical movies and filmed stage shows come in handy. In addition, musical movies are one of the easiest ways to fall in love with musicals especially during this crisis. What are some of my recommendations.

Les Mis

Well, the 2012 movie was how I fell in love with Les Mis. What I really loved about this movie is how the actors were singing live on set. It has a combo of film actors and stage actors. Yes, the plot can seem confusing at first or even too heartbreaking. But if you search deeper, you will realize the musical is also uplifting and inspiring. It is the easiest to start with the movie: to get used to the plot and fall in love with the songs.

Phantom of the Opera- 25th Special

Well, I saw both the film and 25th special. The 25th is the actual stage show- as in the Original. You have incredible actors. Les Mis may have the 25th and 10th concert films, but not the best way to start with Les Mis. Phantom of the Opera is hauntingly beautiful- the songs show that.

The Greatest Showman

Even though it is not a stage musical, it still is an incredible movie musical. Hugh Jackman really shines at P.T. Barnum: he actually was better in this role- he was Jean Valjean in the Les Mis movie, but shines a lot more as Barnum. The spectacle, the talent, and the songs together are why I would recommend this musical.

Newsies- The Filmed Stage Show

The stage show is SO much better than the movie. It makes the main character, Jack Kelly, more complex and with the addition of Katherine, you get a strong female voice in a cast that is extremely male-based. The filmed stage show has some Original Cast Members. It also is home to mind-blowing dance.

Sound of Music

If you want to start with Rodgers and Hammerstein, I would recommended Sound of Music. It has the incredible Julie Andrews playing Maria. From its exciting numbers to the heartwarming story about music and family to the incredible batch of characters. If you actually fell in love with this movie, I would recommend heading towards Oklahoma, South Pacific, Cinderella, and King and I. Nothing can go wrong with Rodgers and Hammerstein.

Aladdin- Live Action

Disney is an incredible way to start seeing musicals. What I love about the live action movie is that it actually develops well-loved characters further. With the addition of “Speechless”- it makes Jasmine a much stronger character. The actors who play Jasmine and Aladdin are incredible. It is one of the most magical Disney films.

Beauty and the Beast- Live Action

This is such a magical movie. It really shows how “beauty can from within”. It mostly takes place in a castle with enchanting objects. The dance between Belle and Beast is one of the most magical scenes in Disney. With the addition of “Evermore”, it makes the Beast even more complex.

Rent-Final Broadway Cast Film

Rent is truly a story about how to live life. It is talking about living your life in the moment and in love. It focuses on a life of friends in a year during the HIV/AIDS epidemic . Because this is the Final Broadway Cast, you have an incredible cast. It is extremely relevant to now- considering the crisis we are in the middle.

If you are looking for a feel good story, then Mamma Mia is for you. Based on the songs of ABBA, you have an incredible collection of songs. Played by incredible actors. In addition, if you are looking for another feel good story, I would recommend Singin’ in the Rain as well.

Conclusion:

I included a lot of incredible musicals to start with. It has the musicals from the feel good stories to more heartbreaking stories. I also can recommend the musical movies of Oliver, Music Man, and Fiddler on the Roof. That is what I have for now.

What musical movies can you add to this?

Filmed Shows/Concerts I Own

One of my favorite parts of my musical theatre collection are the filmed shows that I own or my family owns. Those come from Rent, Phantom of the Opera, and Les Mis.

While the above picture shows the film of Les Mis, it shows the two filmed concerts I own. I first the 25th concert in December 2013 when I rented it on iTunes. I made the decision to watch the 25th due to Samantha Barks, a standout and my favorite Eponine, after realizing she played the same role in the 25th. I loved the 25th—not just the actual concert, but the “Bring Him Quartet”, “The Original Cast ‘One Day More’, and the students from student productions singing “Do You Hear the People Sing”. Alfie, Samantha, and Ramin were three standouts from the concert. Like with any Les Mis, was an emotional wreck.

As for the 10th, I actually got see Jenny Galloway again as Madame Thenardier- she played the same part in the 25th. The 10th concert actually felt as if I will never get a chance to watch. I did not not want to actually own it until I saw the concert. Seeing Jenny with Alun was incredible: when you see the same actor again with another is actually exciting. This actually was my 2nd time seeing Alun Armstrong: I saw him as Squeers in the 9 hr Nicholas Nickleby. What I loved about their dynamic was seeing just how abusive and despicable the Thenardiers are. The fact I saw some Original Cast Members were special: Colm Wilkinson as Valjean, Micheal Ball as Marius, and Micheal McGuire as Enjolras was special. I NEVER get to see Original Casts due to not living in NYC. Then at the end, with 17 Valjeans’ singing “Do You Hear the People Sing”. Well, an emotional wreck once again. For more on my opinions on the 10th: go below:

https://megsdailymusings.wordpress.com/2020/06/13/10th-anniversary-concert-les-mis/

I didn’t actually have a picture of the Final Broadway Cast film. So, I used a picture from the musical itself. I fell in love with Rent by music alone, which is the hardest way to fall in love with a musical due to not knowing who sings the song and the fact it is out of context. My first time I actually saw the stage show of Rent was the Final Broadway Cast. Rent, actually, in terms of emotional wreck is the next level down from Les Mis. Incredible cast, and loved it when the Original Cast sang, I believe “Seasons of Love” at the end.

In 2017, I saw the actual stage show live at Belk Theater with my mom and dad-which made me fall in love with the musical even more.

I had to use a picture from when I saw the stage show of Phantom of the Opera: 2014 at Greenville’s Peace Center with my mom. I actually kinda of forgot that my first cast of Phantom was from the 25th special. My 2nd or 1st time with Ramin: don’t remember what came first- 25th Les Mis or 25th Phantom: saw them both the same month and year. Just like Rent, fell in love with Phantom by music alone. Loved Les Mis and Phantom for seven years now. With Phantom’s 25th, I got to hear a quartet of “Music of the Night”, and hearing the Original Christine sing. I loved both Sierra and Ramin in this special, but still don’t know what to think of Raoul.

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?

Three Sections I Can Divide Musicals In

Well, I can easily separate meaningful musicals into three categories. Those are my childhood musicals, Fletcher musicals, and college musicals. These are all self-explanatory meaning you can easily describe all three. Let me put this into more perspective.

My childhood musicals were ALL musicals that entered my life before I started middle school. Beauty and the Beast, Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, Wizard of OZ, Aladdin, Lion King, Grease, Sound of Music, and Annie fit under this category.

What about the Fletcher musicals? Well, I call these Fletcher musicals because they entered my life when I was still a student at Fletcher. I went to that school from 6th -12th grade. That school was a small K-12 school. Most of the musicals I saw in this time frame were movie musicals. These musicals were Wicked, Mamma Mia, Enchanted, and The High School Musical series. So this set of musicals were the smallest.

College Musicals- I went to two colleges. Central Piedmont Community College and Gardner Webb University were the ones I went to. There were a lot of musicals I fell in love. They were Rent, Godspell, Les Mis, South Pacific, Oklahoma, Newsies, Phantom of the Opera, Frozen, Man of La Mancha, White Christmas, Music Man, Pippin, Singing in the Rain, My Fair Lady, Greatest Showman, and Fiddler on the Roof. This time frame was where my passion for musicals came from- thanks to Les Mis, which challenged everything. That is why there is a lot. What was amazing about CPCC is just how professional they feel: I literally called their production of “Les Mis” phenomenal. CPCC is where I started to get more into theatre: I ushered twice for Les Mis and once for Some Enchanted Evening.