Musical Theatre- the Meaningful Ones

There is one thing that is true for ALL musical theatre fanatics. We know there are musicals in our lives that meaningful and others that are not. The ones that are meaningful end up in our favorites pile. They are the ones that tend to stay with us. What are some of those meaningful musicals in my life (I think you can predict some of them)?

Wicked:

  • I may have had meaningful musicals in my life BEFORE Wicked. However, where did my journey with musicals truly begin? When I first saw Wicked, I was only 12 in NYC on Broadway with my mom. All I can remember is that “Popular” was my favorite song at the time. Before Wicked, I do not think I even knew what an emotional connection was or the emotional and complex side of musicals was. I discovered all of THAT due to Wicked. Wicked made sad come to the forefront, and I do not even remember if love came to the forefront or not due to Wicked, but there is a good chance it might have. I am totally aware that it was Wicked that first made me pick up on the concept of love triangles. Wicked sparked my love for musicals- Elphaba, Glinda, and Fiyero became important parts of my life especially Elphaba.

The three pictures above were from three of the four times I saw Wicked. I saw it once with mom, once with mom and my sister, once with my dad, and once with my university. Each time I saw Wicked, the show got better and due to the emotions deepening I became more vulnerable to the musical; so my emotional connection remained.

Les Mis:

Well, a love may have been sparked by Wicked, but there was no passion. I THOUGHT I knew musicals. I once told myself I will never love a tragedy. I told myself there was only four core emotions: excitement, love, joy, and sad. I told myself ALL musicals were happy and comic that had a few sad moments here and there. I told myself there was no way a death scene would be memorable, and that a song could not happen during one. I even thought I knew just how intense emotions can get in musicals- well Les Mis would challenge everything.

My family was on vacation in Florida in 2012, and we went to see the Les Mis film. I honestly did NOT want to see the film. I was so unsure about it. I only knew it was a musical: not if it was a COMEDY or a TRAGEDY: so I was blind to it being tragic. So I was blind to HEARTBREAK as well. After the first death, I completely realized Les Mis was tragic. I honestly did not know how to respond- I was shocked and confused. I still left the movie theater with “Do You hear the People Sing” stuck in my head. I still was NOT the biggest fan of the musical. The strangest thing though was a few days or maybe at least a week or two weeks after, I started researching Les Mis (do not know why).

Well- there came a point in 2013 when I decided to give the film a 2nd chance. Good thing I knew it was tragic. I started to fall in love with Les Mis. I slowly begin to realize that the musical had something special about it and that it did make you feel uplifted. By summer 2013, I became obsessed with Les Mis. Les Mis is WHY I am a musical theatre fanatic (maybe not the most accurate word). This might sound strange, but I was not an emotional wreck in the beginning; that was a reaction that was built up over time. I never thought a musical could be just how intense (I think true Les Mis fans know what I am talking about) it could get. I have an emotional connection to almost every story in Les Mis- to Valjean’s to Fantine’s to the love triangle to the Uprising. Usually in a musical, I know what my favorite song is, but in Les Mis I can’t even narrow it down.

Sound of Music:

  • Childhood musicals are nothing like the ones that enter you life in college. They have this kind of nostalgia that no other musical can achieve. Sound of Music is one of those musicals. I have loved Sound of Music since I was a child. It had been meaningful for that long- even longer that Wicked.

Annie:

  • Annie has a similar kind of meaning that Sound of Music has. It is another childhood favorite. Before Wicked entered my life and became my favorite musical, Annie was my favorite musical. Each time I see the 1982 musical, I feel like a child again. I am like Annie in the fact that we are both optimistic- I never figured out why I loved the character until my college years.

Rent:

  • This is another sad musical that entered my life. A big thing that makes Rent meaningful is its message. While being sad, Rent is truly a celebration of life. It is about living your life in love even in the face of fear- that is what the Rent characters have to deal with: after all this musical takes place during the HIV/AIDS epidemic of the 1980s/1990s so getting it is quite scary so there is a good chance that if you get that disease there is a high chance you are not going to survive. So these characters, instead of living in fear, they choose to live in love and in the moment- only four of the major characters have the devastating disease, but it still affects their friends. It is truly the message of Rent that makes it meaningful- No Day But Today!!!!! Rent, like Les Mis, makes me an emotional wreck.

Newsies

Courage cannot erase our Fear. Courage is when we face our Fear

Seize the Day

I fell in love with Newsies August 2016 during the US Tour. At the time, Joey Barreiro, my favorite Jack Kelly, was leading the tour. At the time, I remember being mind-blown by the dance. I felt an emotional connection quickly- it started out between the intimate and special bond between Jack and Crutchie and soon after, my emotional connection grew between all of the Newsies. I knew I loved Newsies, but did not even realize that Newsies was already meaningful to me. However, a few weeks later after hearing “Seize the Day” and picking up on the lyrics “Courage cannot erase our Fear. Courage is when we face our Fear”, I knew for a fact that Newsies was meaningful. I really do not know what drives me to those lyrics in “Seize the Day” so much- what I do know is that “Seize the Day” is my favorite song from the musical. Newsies is not my only favorite and meaningful Disney musical.

What are some your meaningful musicals?

How to Measure life

525, 600 minutes

How do you measure

Measure a year

How about love

Seasons of Love, Rent

Currently in life, the world appears to be divided. It seems as if fear and hate should control our lives. That is not how life should be. One of the things that the musical, Rent, teaches is how to measure life. The characters in Rent are struggling with HIV/AIDS and on top of that, the characters are suffering artists. They easily could let their fear of dying control their lives, but they do not. They choose the path of measuring their lives in love.

Isn’t that how everyone should live their life? Love is stronger than fear, and love is stronger than hate. Love is the greatest force of all. We need to measure our lives in love- no matter the battle. We should not let fear divide us. Yes, the world is broken; but the way I see it is that it is less broken than it appears to be. The more love we show, the less broken this world becomes.

Power in a Song

Will I Lose my Dignity

Will Someone Care

Will I Wake Tomorrow From this Nightmare

Will I, Rent

Rent is one of the tear-reducing musicals. “Will I” is one of the most powerful and emotional songs in the musical. It literally is only three lines- eventually with other groups overlapping with the exact same lyrics. How is it that just three lines can be that powerful that you are in tears listening to it? Rent takes place during the HIV/AIDS epidemic- so some of the characters have this disease: that includes four of the major characters.

“Will I?” happens during one of the life support meetings. Of course, everyone is scared. These people are wondering if anyone will care. No one knows how much time they have left. Of course, living with it is a nightmare- in the time period, most likely you are most likely not going to survive. While it takes place during the life support meeting, it does get sung in Roger’s apartment as well since he sings the song as well. Of course, things are complicated for those impacted by the illness. Rent is one of the meaningful musicals of my life, and I am an emotional wreck watching it.

Still, how can only three lines be that powerful?

Non-Romantic Duets in Musical Theatre

When people think of duets in musicals, they think of romance duets. However, there are duets that do not fall under romance. Some are dealing with friendship; some with death; some with family and some between the protagonist and antagonist. This post will be talking about the non-romance numbers. THERE MIGHT BE MAJOR SPOILERS.

For Good

  • The first duet dealing with friendship that comes to mind is Wicked. For Good is the most emotional song in Wicked. It is a bittersweet song because it will be the last time Elphaba and Glinda will see each other, but at the same time they will be able to say what they meant to each other.
Elphaba and Glinda in Wicked- For Good
For Good

Santa Fe (Prologue)

  • This is another friendship duet. This time it is between Jack Kelly and Crutchie. Jack is leader of the Newsies. The two of them have a special bond. Jack cares a lot about his brothers especially for Crutchie. Crutchie may be the most vulnerable of the Newsies, but he has a wonderful spirit and optimism.
Santa Fe (Prologue)- Jack Kelly and Crutchie in Newsies
Santa Fe (Prologue)

What You Own

  • This is kinda a friendship duet. That is because it is between Mark and Roger, two best friends. Both are them did end up having an epiphany in this song. Roger has figured what his song will be and Mark realized what kinda of film he wanted to make. So in many ways, this was a friendship duet.

A Little Fall of Rain

  • Here is a type of song that did shock me in the world of musical: I once believed that a musical song wouldn’t happen during a death. Turns out I was so wrong. This is between Eponine and Marius. For some people, they might call it a romantic number: not for me. Right before the song, Eponine sacrificed her life for him out of love for him. When Marius discovered she was dying, he was devastated; but decided to stay with her- he ended up showing her comfort to the end. This is a bittersweet song- you have to understand Eponine to understand why. This is literally the happiest moment of her life: she is with Marius, that is all that truly matter even though he never loved her. It does have both friendship and death when it comes to this duet.
"A Little Fall of Rain" from the movie- Samantha Barks as Eponine and Eddie Redmayne as Marius
A Little Fall of Rain

Come to Me

  • Once again, another death duet. This is the first death that happens in Les Mis. It happens to Fantine, and this song is between Valjean and her. In the opinion, the hardest scenes to watch belong to Fantine. “Come to Me” does give Fantine peace and comfort for once. Valjean agrees and promises to her that he will raise Cosette as his own. He stayed with her to the end. While her time in the musical is short-lived, she is still one of the principal characters.
Come to Me- Valjean and Fantine
Come to Me

No Matter What

  • This is one of the family duets. This happens between Belle and Maurice. While the town might think they are odd, Belle and her father do not see each other that way. This song does truly show how much Belle and her father do love each other.

Phantom of the Opera

  • This is a protagonist and antagonist. That is my opinion- I believe Christine is the protagonist and Phantom is the antagonist. In the song, I love the haunting and mystic feeling; going through the lair/boats, etc. It is an amazing scene to watch.

Confrontation

  • Another protagonist and antagonist song is “Confrontation” that happens between Valjean and Javert. You strongly start to see their dynamic unfold in this song. It does happen at a bit of an inconvenient time. After all, this song happens after Fantine dies. At the end, you strongly know that Valjean will keep to his word that we will raise Cosette, Fantine’s daughter, as his own.

What are some your favorite non-romantic musical theatre songs?

The Act I Finales

They are important to a musical. What is the importance? In my opinion, at the end of the act I, you usually know you love the musical. The act I are either sad or heartbreaking; empowering or exciting; or it is hard to explain. There are some act I finales that will always be in my top favorite act I finales. I think some people will actually agree with me. I will list some of those below.

  1. La Bie Boheme B
  2. If I Can’t Love Her
  3. I’d Give My Life For You
  4. Santa Fe
  5. Let it Go
  6. Crashing of the Chandelier
  7. Defying Gravity
  8. One Day More

When I actually think of act I finales, it is Defying Gravity and One Day More that come to mind the most. As a matter of fact, Let it Go sounds so much and reminds me so much of Defying Gravity. All three songs are empowering songs. It is “If I Can’t Love Her”, “Santa Fe”, and “I’d Give Give My Life For You” that fall under the category of sad/heartbreaking songs- only “If I Can’t Love Her” and “Santa Fe” are under musical comedies- well, “If I Can’t Love Her” is a musical comedy romance. When it comes to the tragedies- you do not want the act I finales to drive you away from the plot- you want them to keep you want to watch act II- not the other way around.

What are some of your favorite act I finales?

What makes me Love a Friendship in a Musical

One type of love found in a musical is friendship. What exactly makes me love the friendships I do love? That is a tough question. I will try to answer. Only one of these friendships- I have no idea what made me fall in love with them, who are Lumiere and Cogsworth.

Bond- this is key. Multiple friendships I do love share a close bond. That is what the Newsies, Friends of the ABC, Elphaba and Glinda, and the Rent Batch have in common. It is their close bond that made me fall in love with them. To a further extent, in Newsies, there is a more intimate bond, which is found between Jack and Crutchie.

Good Friends- I do not know where to put Omar, Babkak, Aladdin, and Kassim; and Eponine and Marius. I think this is part of it. They are amazing friends to each other. They are there for each other when they need it- Aladdin’s three friends (SPOILER) do try to rescue him when Jafar actually captures Aladdin and locks him up: that is where the song, “High Adventure” shows up.

I know Marius and Eponine is an unpopular opinion, but I love that Marius is in her life: he is her light in her life and the only person to show her kindness, and is there for her when she is dying (“A Little Fall of Rain”)- that is compassion. He was devastated- but at least he stayed with her. I believe he sent her off with that letter in hopes to protect her, and when she returned, he was worried. He was a good friend to Eponine- he knew her life was tough, and I am glad he was part of it.

Emotional Connection- this is the most important thing to loving any character. In all of these friendships, I found myself emotionally connected. None of these characters were horrible friends to each other- if they were, I wouldn’t have fallen in love with these friendships. They were always there for each other when they need it the most. Of all these friendships, my all-time favorite one is Elphaba and Glinda.

What makes you fall in a love with a friendship in a musical?

Updated Favorite Musical Theatre Characters

This list has shown up multiple times on my blog. The only reason why this tends to repeat is when I add on a favorite character. So, where I a list of characters I love.

  1. Annie
  2. Aladdin
  3. Aldonza
  4. Angel
  5. Anna (Frozen)
  6. Babkak
  7. Belle
  8. Beast
  9. Crutchie
  10. Cosette
  11. Christine
  12. Chip
  13. Chris
  14. Cogsworth
  15. Davey
  16. Don Quixote
  17. Eponine
  18. Elphaba
  19. Enjolras
  20. Elsa
  21. Fantine
  22. Fiyero
  23. Friends of the ABC
  24. Gavroche
  25. Glinda
  26. Grizabella
  27. Harold Hill
  28. Jack Kelly
  29. Jasmine
  30. Jean Valjean
  31. Kassim
  32. Katherine Plumber
  33. Kim (Miss Saigon)
  34. Lumiere
  35. Maria (Sound of Music)
  36. Marius
  37. Mimi
  38. Mrs. Potts
  39. Mufasa
  40. Nala
  41. Newsies
  42. Omar
  43. Oliver
  44. Pippin
  45. Pumba
  46. Raoul
  47. Roger
  48. Sancho Panza
  49. Simba
  50. Timon
  51. Von Trapp Children
  52. Winthrop
  53. Young Cosette
  54. Zazu

A lot of my favorite characters in the musical theatre world are survivors while many do lose their lives as well: I actually believe most are survivors. It is interesting how varied these characters all- their lives are so different: that is based off of where they live, their age, their family, etc. Some are not human. You will notice I love a lot of characters- most of them are young: I do have an all-time favorite: Elphaba is my favorite musical theatre character.