Last night was the 2nd night at the Pops. This time, my family and friends were treated to Broadway songs. When it comes to Broadway, it is a Pops I don’t want to miss. I ended up wearing the Les Mis shirt I got in the West End to this symphony. I was wondering what musicals they were going to do.
First up- Sound of Music, a childhood favorite. They played all of the songs I thought they would. It included two from the stage show, which never made it to the movie. The songs included “Sound of Music”, “Climb Every Mountain”, “So Long Farewell”, “Edelweiss”, “My Favorite Things”, “Do Re Mi”, “Lonely Goatherd”, “Maria”, “Sixteen Going on Seventeen”, and “How Can Love Survive”.
Second up- My Fair Lady, a musical that entered my life in college. The symphony played a good collection of those songs. From “I Could Have Danced all Night”, “Wouldn’t it be Loverly”= among others. I still don’t know the names of the songs well enough to be able to recognize songs without the lyrics.
Third up- Grease. It played “Hand Jive”, “Summer Nights”, “Greased Lightening”, “Beauty School Dropout”, and “We Go Together”.
Fourth up- Carousel. All they played from this musical is the “Carousel Waltz”.
Fifth up- Les Mis. The symphony started with the overture. “At the End of the Day”, “I Dreamed a Dream”, “Master of the House”, “On My Own”, and “Do You Hear the People Sing” were the only songs they did. Even with just the melody, I still cried.
Sixth up- Oklahoma. “Oklahoma”, “I Cain’t Say No”, “Farmer and the Cowman”, “Surrey with Fringe on Top”, “Kansas City”= among others. Just like My Fair Lady-still barley know names of songs and even the melodies themselves to pick up on songs.
Seventh up-Wicked. “No one Mourns the Wicked”, “Popular”, and “Defying Gravity” were the songs the symphony used.
Eighth up- Music Man. The very last song was “76 Trombones”.
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:
Seize the Day
On My Own
Beauty and the Beast
Phantom of the Opera
Seventy Six Trombones
Corner of the Sky
Some Enchanted Evening
The Impossible Dream
Seasons of Love
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.
We heard the concept of quality and the concept of quantity. Quantity is how many things we do and quality is the meaning. However, what is stronger- quality is stronger. What is stronger for a musical theatre year? Quality or Quantity. I will use 2018 and 2015 to explain.
I am in 2018, and it was the year I graduated from college. My mom did tell me I was seeing Lion King. Lion King so far was going to be the only musical I would be in 2018. Little did I know, the number of musicals I would see this year.
For whatever reason, I decided to look up the musicals for Central Piedmont Community College, the place where I started my college journey. I ended up seeing three musicals there: Oklahoma, Grease, and Newsies. I knew how well-done CPCC can do their shows. Oklahoma was my 5th date with mom, Grease was a date with my sister and one of our friends, and Newsies was a date with one of my best friends. Below are reviews for those three musicals.
Yes, I already saw three community college shows, but I felt like I was about to see my 4th professional show. Lion King was my first show with Blumenthal. It was a girl’s night out. I saw it with my mom and sister. Our seats were perfect- at the orchestra in the aisle. Review below. So, loved all four shows. I thought Lion King was the last musical of 2018- it was the only musical I wanted to see with Blumenthal in 2018. No musical in the 2018-2019 that came in 2018 was something I actually wanted to see.
Boy, I was wrong. Lion King wouldn’t be the last musical. I would see a 5th musical. One of the musicals I knew was coming was A Christmas Story. I went to the informance of it with Club Blume. The moment I learned that the same guys who wrote this musical also wrote The Greatest Showman, a musical I love, I decided I will watch A Christmas Story. I actually liked A Christmas Story- it was a funny and amazing start to the Holidays, and I cannot believe that dogs on stage can make you laugh.
Yes, 2018 was the record hold of musicals- 5 musicals was the record of musicals, but did that make 2018 the best year of musicals? Let me take you to 2015, which had only one less musical.
Music Man- This musical started the year of musicals. It was the most light-hearted of all four of them. It was one of the inexperienced of them. I knew some songs and knew a bit of the plot. I watched it at Dover Theatre at Gardner Webb University. This was the semester I transferred to GWU- Spring 2015. I knew I was seeing Music Man that year. Well- I fell in love with Music Man by a college production. Little did I know, how much I would love that year of musicals or how many musicals I would see that year.
Pippin- This show was the main musical I wanted to see with Blumenthal during their 2014-2015 season. There seemed to be no sign of seeing Pippin. This show was more inexperienced than Music Man- I only knew one song- all I knew about the plot was coming from “Corner of the Sky”. I saw a preview- that was how I knew it was going to filled with spectacle. Well, one week before Pippin, my mom decided to buy tickets for Pippin- there was only one day left with seats together. So Pippin ALMOST didn’t happen. Pippin was actually darker than Music Man- I could tell from the first number. By intermission, I already wanted the album, and that is saying something because how do you already know you will love the other songs? Pippin was the FINAL inexperienced musical.
Les Mis- I actually knew I was going to see in the West End. The question was WHAT MUSICAL? I first found that I was seeing a musical in the West End December 2014- right away I wanted to know what musical. All Spring 2015, I wanted to know what musical. It needed to be Les Mis- it was my dream to see Les Mis in the West End. June 2015- my mom texted me French Flag Emojis and Musical Note Emojis, and that didn’t make sense, and then I was told to check my email. The moment I saw Les Misérables on my email, I ran up to my mom crying. I couldn’t believe it- I was seeing Les Mis in The West End. I still had to wait a month- after all, my family wasn’t leaving the US until July 28th- Les Mis was happening July 30th.
July 30th- when I saw The Queen’s Theatre, I thought I was pretending. Nothing felt real. Even buying the souvenirs- t-shirt, poster, playbill (that was a culture shock-buying it). Sitting down- noticing how close we were, and looking at the set. Nothing felt real- I thought I was dreaming. Then I heard it- the first note or maybe notes of the orchestra- then it hit me- I was living the dream. How is it that just hearing a few notes tell you that it is going to be more than expected? I ended up having an understudy as Jean Valjean. I was right- it was more than expected. I ended up crying sooner than I thought- I thought that reaction would begin at “I Dreamed a Dream”- it started after Valjean was released. It was like winning a lottery- seeing Les Mis in London.
After Les Mis, I thought Les Mis was the FINAL musical. It wasn’t the FINAL musical. I would end in my childhood. How do you end in your childhood? That means ending in a childhood musical? Sound of Music was my final musical. I felt like a child watching a musical- that is something that non-childhood musicals can never achieve. Les Mis did make me a emotional wreck- but it wasn’t the only musical that made me cry. Sound of Music did that to me as well. It was during Edelweiss, my favorite song of the musical. Ben Davis, my Captain Von Trapp, took a slight pause (which was between the time he stopped singing and when the children joined in). His nonverbal allowed sadness to enter the picture- I started crying- I was like- that emotion was never in the musical. I think it was a combo of nostalgia, the nonverbal, and the nature of the song itself.
What year do you think was better- 2018 or 2015? You might think it was 2018 because it had more musicals- quantity, but what what about 2015 where it had more quality, but a little less quantity. I will say my answer-
It was 2015-it wasn’t because it had LESS musicals than 2018. It is because it had MORE quality than 2018. I loved all four musicals- for one thing, the first two musicals were two new musicals that I fell in love with. I found it interesting that they were the first two since they were the most inexperienced. Then you get to the last two musicals- they had the most experience- only one of those I never saw live. Where is the MORE quality of 2015? It comes from Les Mis- I wasn’t seeing Les Mis at community college like 2013 or on tour like 2017. I saw it in the West End- that was my DREAM-that is like seeing more than one musical or winning the lottery.
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:
One Day More
Climb Every Mountain
If I Can’t Love Her
Wells Fargo Wagon
La Vie Bohéme
Let it Go
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.
We all have memories. When we become adults, we wish we were children again. That is because life as a child was easier. We sometimes want to be able to remember what that felt like- being a child. If we were raised on musicals- we will have childhood musicals. Childhood musicals have something special in them- they have this special quality that no other musical has. They come with this nostalgia- we feel like kids whenever we watch them. What are my childhood musicals?
Annie was my favorite musical in elementary school- I fell in love with by the 1982 movie. Now that I think of it, I believe I had an emotional connection to Annie. In elementary school- I did not know what “emotional connection” was. I was optimistic as a child- I think that was why I loved Annie, and why the song, “Tomorrow” is my favorite song from the musical. It stayed my favorite musical for a few years. In the year 2014 at the age of 20, I finally saw the stage show of Annie, and while watching it, I did feel like a child.
Sound of Music
This was another musical that entered my life in elementary school. It was the musical film. My favorite song was “Edelweiss”. In 2015, finally watched the stage show. “Edelweiss” took me by surprise- an emotion entered the song that never was there- it turned it a bittersweet song due to sad entering the picture- I believe it was a combo of nostalgia, and a nonverbal that was made by Ben Davis (Captain Von Trapp). “Do Re Mi” was the first musical song I memorized all the lyrics to.
Beauty and the Beast- amongst other Disney musical films.
I mean, who would not grow up without Disney. I am a 90s girl after all. The main song that really stuck with me was “Beauty and the Beast”. It was the only song I remembered. Of all Disney classic couples- Belle and Beast are my favorite Disney couples. When I watched the live action movie in 2017- my love of the original came back to me- I did feel like a kid watching the live action movie.
I might be stretching things, but in my opinion, Wicked is my final childhood musical. Yes, I was 12 at the time- but it still counts. It was the year 2006 in the month August. I was with my mom. Little did I know that when I entered the Gershwin Theater that I would be changed “for good”. There is a reason why the song, “Popular”, is my favorite song from Wicked: it was my favorite song at age 12- nostalgia is why. Annie was my favorite musical until I saw Wicked. My journey with musicals truly began with this musical.
What I expected from musicals growing up comes from my childhood musicals. Spectacle, dance, comedy, complexity, romance, positive and negative emotions in the score, and a strong emotional connection (bonus: relating to a character). Those elements still exist to this day- I still want those to exist- however, I have learned that some musicals are different than what is typically associated with musicals.
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.
Musicals are assumed to be happy and comic. Non-musical fans don’t seem to know about the emotional side of musicals. There are emotional songs in musicals. There are heartbreaking, sad, bittersweet, and love songs in musicals. In addition, there are tragic musicals- tragic musicals are something that I didn’t know about until Les Mis entered my life. Emotional songs can lead you to cry- to even be an emotional wreck (as in multiple songs in the musicals). What are the musicals I have cried during? I decided to make a list of those here- it has changed since the last time I made a post about the same thing.
Sound of Music
In November 2015, I had never cried during a song in the musical. I was assuming there was no way Sound of Music could cause me to have the reaction. Enter Edelweiss- it is my favorite song from the musical; the moment Ben Davis, who played the Captain, stopped singing and before the children joined in, I picked up on a nonverbal that made sadness enter that picture. Sad was NEVER a part of Sound of Music in the songs- I was raised on Sound of Music- the movie. I started crying right when the children joined in. Ben Davis’ nonverbal was enough for me to get that reaction. I think it was a combo of the nostalgia, the bittersweetness of the song (which was new that day), and his nonverbal (a pause does hold a lot of power). Sound of Music was my 4th and final musical I saw in 2015, which was still the best year of musical.
It was the first time I saw the movie. I didn’t cry for most of the movie. Then came “As Long As He Needs Me”- knowing how heartbreaking that song was- I was in tears listening to that song. Any song that has the words sad and love attached to it are always heartbreaking.
Last time I saw Wicked, “For Good” hit me hard. That song is supposed to be more emotional than the heartbreaking “I’m Not That Girl”. I saw an excellent Elphaba (standby Mary Kate Morrissey) and an excellent Glinda (Amanda Jane Copper). Their “For Good” left be in tears- their Elphaba and Glinda mixed with how meaningful Wicked is to me mixed with seeing it with Gardner Webb are huge reasons why “For Good” affected me the way it did. “For Good” represents the center core of Wicked- it is after all about the relationship between Elphaba and Glinda.
I did a fresh list of this because of Miss Saigon. It is the newest musical to make me cry. Coming in, I knew it would because of Les Mis. The music was written by the same people. If Les Mis affected me so strongly- Miss Saigon would hit me too. When a musical is a tragic love story-you automatically know two of the emotions: love and heartbreak; you can’t escape and you can’t escape the ending either. In a tragic love story, things aren’t going to end well- you don’t want that to happen if you become attached to the two lovers. As for Miss Saigon, I almost cried in “Movie in the Mind”, but the real tears started in “Sun and Moon”, which is when I became attached to Kim and Chris. “Sun and Moon” is when they have fallen in love- Emily Bautista and Anthony Festa made me want those two to stay together, and as a result, did not want it to end tragically. There were other moments I did cry- “Sun and Moon” was the one I remembered the most. They are still a very very new couple I fell in love with- I only saw Miss Saigon in Feb.
Talk about emotional wreck- Rent is one of those musicals. In 2017, I saw Rent in person for the first time. I knew there were songs, like “Will I?”, and “Your Eyes” that will emotionally affect me, but there were songs that never emotionally affected until I saw Rent. I was a bigger emotional wreck in person than I am with the final Broadway cast film. The power of live theatre- songs like “Rent”, for instance, had an emotional impact on me. I was crying in songs I always cry during- “One Song Glory” was more emotional than it typically is- and so on. I was an emotional wreck watching Rent. I would be an emotional wreck more than once in 2017.
Do I have to say more? A lot of Les Mis fans are emotional wrecks watching it. Before Les Mis, I knew about the emotional side of musicals. I knew about the complex side of musicals as well. There were four core emotions I discovered: excitement, love, joy, and sad. I thought I knew musicals- I thought the knew the entire emotional nature, but boy was I so wrong. Les Mis went “are you sure you know musicals, are you sure you know how intense emotions can get in them.” A new core emotion entered the picture: heartbreak. I have been a fan of Les Mis of six years-a love that began with the film (which I had to give a 2nd chance). I never knew emotions get affect me like that-Les Mis sure taught me a lot. It disproved a lot. I still am an emotional wreck- it can be songs alone, can be the stage show, can be the film, and can be the 25th anniversary concert- all cause me to an emotional wreck. Les Mis is the musical I am the biggest emotional wreck during.