Are Songs the Only Reason to Love a Musical?

Some people are convinced that the only reason why I love musicals are the songs. But it isn’t just the songs that have to leave an Impression on me. True, songs are the very center of musicals, but I don’t love musicals just for the songs. Musicals are also a world of dance and spectacle and I look forward to those moments just as much as the songs.

Just loving the songs honestly does not say much. In order to fully love the songs, there are other aspects of a musical you must fall in love with as well. After all, the songs strengthen characters and plot. I also love a musical due to the characters and storylines they have. The main emotions happen through the songs and have to complement the characters. The emotions have to make sense with the plot the musical is trying to tell. You can fall in love with the songs, but it can hard to appreciate the emotions if you have a hard time appreciating character and plot. You also need to love the songs in order to get something out of the emotions the characters are feeling.

The negative emotions are emotions you have to grow into. The positive emotions you quickly fall in love with. The negative emotions do become enjoyed right away, but you still need to grow into them. You can easily skip tiny details of negative emotions you didn’t even notice before.

Some wonderful musical characters include Belle, Beast, Jack Kelly, Crutchie, Elphaba, Glinda, Fiyero, Eponine, Jean Valjean, Enjolras, Gavroche, Annie, Maria (Sound of Music) and the Von Trapp children among many others. Wonderful plot include the plots of Music Man, Sound of Music, Annie, Wicked, Les Misérables, Beauty and the Beast, South Pacific, and Newsies among many others.

Honestly the songs are key to falling in love with many aspects of musicals. They are key to the emotions that characters deal with. The most complex plots almost always have a score that consists of both positive and negative emotions. I always love discovering what a musical is capable of and some things I have discovered have quite surprising and unexpected.

Do you love musicals for more than just the songs?

My Vision of Musicals

Everyone has a vision of what they want from a vision.  My vision of musicals was created while I was growing up. I grew up watching movie musicals like Aladdin, Beauty and the Beast, Lion King, Grease, Sound of Music, and Annie. I even grew up seeing musicals in the theatre and those musicals included things like Lion King, Beauty and the Beast, and Wicked. So below I will take about what I expect from a musical.

First things first is the songs. I want to be connected to the songs. The songs are key to any musical. I want to love the songs. The main emotions come through the songs. I want songs to be memorable and emotional. I want the songs to feel like they belong in the musical they are in. Growing up, there was one type of song that I commonly associated with musical and those are the songs that tend to start out slow and eventually slow up. I even look for love songs and sad songs.

Next thing belongs to the characters. No matter what they are going through, I want to care about their journeys. The characters make me love the songs even more. Just like the songs, I want the characters to be memorable. I want the characters to be complex and strong. I want the characters to feel real. I also look for relatability, but I can’t relate to the character, I look for something that makes them stand out.

Next thing belongs to the plot. Just like the characters, I want the plot to be complex, strong, and relatable. I tend to look for multiple storylines. I want there to be a certain amount of conflict. Conflict plays a key role in the emotions. Conflict affects whether or not the songs have just positive emotions or if the songs have a combination of positive and negative emotions.

When it comes to all three, I want to be emotionally connected. I want my emotional connection to strong enough to truly care about the different character’s emotions. When it comes to the negative emotions, I want those songs to have vulnerability, fragility, and beauty. I only can seem to love feeling the negative emotions if my emotional connection to the songs, characters, and story are strong enough.

Another part of my vision has to do with comedy. Growing up, I wanted a musical to be happy or a comedy itself. Now that I am older and know that tragic musicals exist, I look at the aspect of comedy very differently. I want some comic aspect in a musical.

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My vision also includes spectacle and dance. Just like songs, the spectacle and dance add to the experience. Dance in my opinion is an example of spectacle. Those two elements make an experience unique. Sometimes spectacle helps with believability because they can help you believe in settings such as the land of OZ, an enchanted castle, or the wilds of Africa. But not all musicals have spectacle and dance.

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Overall, what I am really looking for is the emotional connection. Recently I discovered that I can still fall in love with a musical without the dance or spectacle. When that happens, I want the emotional connection to be strong enough to make up for the loss of spectacle and dance. So the emotional connection is really the key to falling in love with a musical. So what I want really is a strong score, memorable and complex characters, and a complex and strong plot. However, spectacle and dance is still part of my vision when it comes to musicals.

Some of the best plots and songs tend to be quite powerful. I want the positive and negative emotions to be a part of the show. It sounds crazy that I want to feel the negative emotions in the songs, but it really works even though they can hurt. I tend to love the negative emotions the most when they are beyond the mild world.

What is your vision of a musical?

Excitement Found in Musicals

Of all musical emotions, excitement is the emotion that hasn’t been changed one bit. Of course, it wasn’t the only main emotion found in the musicals I grew up with. Those other emotions were joy, love, sad. But those three emotions changed a lot over the years especially in the more recent years due to heartbreak being discovered.

I remember growing up and associating musicals with a certain melody. That type of nature belonged to the exciting numbers. Those numbers have a habit of having spectacle or dance involved. Two of the most unique things about musicals are dance and spectacle. Growing up, I referred to the exciting numbers as “full of life”. But now that phrase belongs to an entire musical. Just like songs add something to the experience, so does dance and spectacle.

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Excitement has never once been altered. It is felt exactly the same way as it was felt in my younger years. One of the best parts about the exciting numbers is when the song reaches the point where the melody becomes fast. I have a vision when it comes to musicals and spectacle and dance are part of my vision.

Some shows found with dance or spectacle include Pippin, Newsies, Wicked, Lion King, Beauty and the Beast and Singing in the Rain. I associate the word, showtune, with exciting numbers especially the dance and spectacle numbers. Spectacle has existed in many forms. When I saw Newsies in August, I was looking forward to the dance because the show had Tony Award Winning Choreography and the dance ended up being mind-blowing. I find dance to be a kind of spectacle.

I feel like dance and spectacle helps with believability. In Wicked, the spectacle and dances helps you believe you are in OZ. In Beauty and the Beast, it makes you believe you are in an enchanted castle and the dance and spectacle in Lion King makes you believe you are in the wild of Africa.

There is no way excitement can be altered at all. It still hasn’t gone through a massive change. However, there are some exciting numbers that are not dance or spectacle oriented or have that quick of a melody. “Masquerade” and “One Day More” are two exciting numbers that are different than other exciting numbers. “Masquerade” has the dance and spectacle, but the melody is slow, but still feel exciting. “One Day More” is one of the best act one closers, but that exciting number doesn’t have dance or spectacle and the melody is quite powerful, epic, and passionate. So there are a few expectations to the regular nature of excitement.

Musicals Then and Now

Yesterday’s post, I talked about the musicals from my younger years. In today’s post, I plan to compare and contrast the world of musicals from the musical from my younger years to the musicals from now. When I mean “then”, I am talking about musicals from elementary to high school” and “now” refers to the musicals from 2012 to current.

Then: This world formed the foundation of musicals. All of them were happy and I believed all musicals were happy. There were four main emotions, which were excitement, love, joy, and sad. It consisted of musicals like Wicked, Annie, Sound of Music, Grease, Lion King, Aladdin and Beauty and the Beast. I described all musicals as happy and full of life.

Full of life only referred to the exciting numbers where dance and spectacle existed. In high school, the emotion of sad seemed to stop completely and I felt like it couldn’t be anything else. So in the world of these musicals, musicals were a world of spectacle, dance, comedy, excitement, love, joy, sad, and strong emotional connections.

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Now: The musicals of these days were in a way kind of similar to the musicals of my younger years. It was still a world of spectacle, dance, comedy, strong emotional connections and the same four main emotions. But things took a very unexpected and twisted turn.

I was soon to learn that not all musicals are happy and comic like I once thought I knew. Les Mis entered my life and that title means “the miserable”. Les Mis is a very heartbreaking musical. Heartbreak became a main emotion and I couldn’t interpret it in my younger years. I did not how to respond to the idea of a tragedy existing in the world of musicals.

But I soon realized that tragedies belong in the world of musicals. Just through the added nature of tragedies and the emotion of heartbreak, everything changed so drastically. But yet, still seems kind of similar.

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I was the kind of person who thought that I would always hate tragedies. That was me in high school so I was quite surprised that I love Les Mis. Tragic things happen to all of the Les Mis characters. Jean Valjean lived his life as an ex-convict, Cosette had a horrible childhood, Marius faced lots of trauma at the barricade, Fantine had to become a prostitute to provide for her child, the Thernardiers inn became bankrupt and Eponine faced horrible abuse by her parents and suffered from a strong unrequited love for Marius.

What Les Mis also showed me is that musical emotions have so much potential in them. I realized that musical emotions can be felt so deeply and with so much insight and truth. I soon learned that the negative emotions consist of a sense of fragility and vulnerability. Sometimes you have to dig into an emotion in order to truly understand the emotion of the song. That is true for both positive and negative. There are some inner positive emotions just like there are inner negative emotions.

I didn’t notice the details of sad before Les Mis entered my life. I realized there is more to tragedy than heartbreak. Les Mis is a very inspirational musical because it is ultimately a tale of love, hope, compassion, forgiveness, humanity, sacrifice, and redemption.

Other musicals of these years were Newsies,  Rent, South Pacific, Phantom of the Opera, and Pippin. Rent like Les Mis is a tragic musical. I view musical emotions very differently now. I explore the emotions in a more open and more complex way. I come in knowing that there is a chance that heartbreak will happen.

All because of Les Mis, it is easier for me to detect darkness and negative emotions in new musicals. One way to describe how different musical emotions are is to use Wicked as matter of fact. The unrequited love song, “I’m Not That Girl” began as just a sad song and it eventually became a heartbreaker. “No Good Deed” once felt emotionless, but last year it became a song filled with anger and frustration.

Sad isn’t the only emotion that went through drastic change. The addition of heartbreak affected love and joy. I finally understood the serious side of love, which is its heartbreaking nature. Like I stated above, “I’m Not That Girl” became heartbreaking. It took the unrequited love song, “On My Own” for me to figure that out. “On My Own” is from Les Mis and is about Eponine’s unrequited love for Marius and that is a more extreme and stronger song about unrequited love.

There are even other heartbreaking love songs, which were discovered in the more recent years. Songs like “Somewhere” and “This Nearly Was Mine” are heartbreaking love songs. The song “I Dreamed a Dream” made me realize “Memory” was heartbreaking. Crazy how just one musical emotion can drastically change the world of musicals. Heartbreak which once didn’t exist changed everything.

Major Spoilers:

As far as joy goes, I knew growing up that joy is existent in bittersweet moments. But there are bittersweet moments that are incredibly heartbreaking. One such instance is “A Little Fall of Rain”. It can be quite challenging to understand why there is joy in this heartbreaking moment especially because it is Eponine’s death scene. She just got fatally wounded after returning to the barricades. If you just don’t understand just how dark her life is and if you don’t understand her love for Marius, the joy in this would be nonexistent. She is dying, but she is dying in the arms of the man she loved, which is why this the happiest moment moment of her life.

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I told myself that a death scene could never be memorable, but Les Mis proved me wrong. Eponine’s death scene in my opinion is the best death scene of the entire musical because there is just something special about “A Little Fall of Rain”.

What’s crazy is I love Eponine and you would think the death scene of a favorite character wouldn’t be memorable. Yes, I am devastated and heartbroken, but I am happy as a matter of fact. I am happy that Eponine finally feels extremely happy for the first time.

Just like the earlier years, excitement is felt exactly the same way. It is the one emotion that hasn’t changed at all. New shows come in with spectacle and dance. Pippin is a musical full of circus elements and Newsies is full of mind-blowing. The same level of excitement is still present. It hasn’t changed one bit.

So the musicals of younger years are a world of dance, spectacle, comedy, strong emotional connections, excitement, love, joy, and sad. I described all musicals as as happy and full of life. Full of life only referred to the exciting numbers.

Now, musicals are a world of dance, spectacle, comic and tragic moments,  strong emotional connections, excitement, love, joy, sad, and heartbreak.  Not only are there happy and comic musicals, there are also sad and tragic musicals with some getting caught in the middle. Those words are almost identical to the words I once used. Than again, the musicals of my younger fears formed a foundation of the musicals today. Now I call all musicals joyful, unique, emotional, and full of life. Full of life now refers to the entire show as in the story comes to life.

Uniqueness of Musicals

Musicals are quite a special type of entertainment. It is hard to believe just how massive of what musicals are capable of. It is completely hard to describe the wide range of things a musical can do. In a nutshell, musicals are a world of spectacle, dance, and song. Each musical tells a separate story with a different set of characters. The characters are wide-ranging who can be tragic, romantic, tragicomic, tragi-romantic, etc. The characters live different lives with different personality traits who go through different emotions.

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Some moments of spectacle include dance, wild costumes, puppets, and circus. Starting in elementary school, I fell in love with the spectacle of musicals. The spectacle adds just so much to a musical. It can make you see magic on stage and can make you believe you are in places like an enchanted castle, the land of OZ, or the wilds of Africa.

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The dance in my opinion is a type of spectacle. The dance ranges so much as well. It conveys excitement very well and just adds so much joy to an experience. The dance in Wicked feels very OZian and the dancing in Newsies is quite very different. Just like spectacle, dance adds something to an experience. Just like the spectacle of musicals, I have loved the dance since elementary school.

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Now on to the songs, the most important part of a musical. The songs are where the emotions are conveyed. The main emotions that are a part of a musical exist within the songs. The main emotions of excitement, joy, love, sad, and heartbreak are highly important. Not all musicals have all five emotions because some don’t have the negative emotions and some have sad, but not in the form of heartbreak. The emotions are crazily difficult to describe. The emotional range begins with simple musicals and begins with the happiest of musicals. For me, I started to understand the emotional nature in 2006 in middle school when I saw Wicked on Broadway.

It basically begins with a musical like Singing in the Rain and eventually builds up to Les Mis. The thing with Les Mis is that it has an emotional impact that is a rare gem in itself. Unlike Singing in the Rain, Les Mis gives me a huger emotional impact and puts up with even more emotions. Les Mis has all five main emotions especially considering the fact that Les Mis is quite a heartbreaking musical, but manages to inspire and uplift you. The rest of the emotional impact exists in between Les Mis and Singing in the Rain. I will never be able to describe the emotional impact.

Musicals may have changed a lot over the years, but yet still give me the same joy that they have always given me.

What do you think makes musicals so unique?

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Love for the Spectacle and Dance of Musicals

One of the most unique things about musicals is their spectacle and dance. Some people think that spectacle and dance take away from the experience of the musical. But for me, just like songs, spectacle and dance only adds more to the experience. The dance and spectacle of a musical has always been part of my life.

Back in elementary school, I feel like it was the spectacle and dance that mattered to me the most in musical. Growing up, the kind of song I loved the most was the exciting numbers. There are many types of spectacle found in a musical like costumes, sets, circus, and dance. Spectacle and dance can help you believe in the show more. If you want the audience to believe that the show takes place in either an enchanted castle or in the wild of Africa or in OZ, you need the spectacle or else you wouldn’t believe in where it takes place.

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So far, the best spectacle-filled musical is Wicked. This musical is a fantasy and its spectacle is one of a kind. All of the dancing, the lavish costumes, and the set all make you believe you are transported to OZ. Even the nature of the songs and the character’s names makes you believe. The show begins when this dragon on the top of the set operate and smoke comes out and automatically you feel like you are in OZ. Before the show begins, the curtain is actually a map of OZ with the Emerald City shimmering the middle. The lavish costumes are so beautiful especially Glinda’s Bubble Dress, Glinda’s Pink Dress, Elphaba’s Act II Dress and many of the ensemble outfits like the Shiz uniforms or the green costumes in the Emerald City.

The newest type of spectacle found is circus. I saw Pippin for the first time two years ago with my mom. The show is literally a circus. There are flips over balls, trapeze work, and even aerobatics. It provides something unique to Pippin. It is a wonderful musical filled with incredible songs.maxresdefault

There is even spectacle in Lion King and Beauty and the Beast. I may not remember seeing them live, but they are known for having spectacle. Due to the castle being enchanted in Beauty and the Beast and the Lion King taking place in the wild of Africa, they need to have  spectacle. It also makes sense for both of them to have spectacle since they both are Disney musicals. The costumes in Pippin are quite lavish and very colorful and the circus tend is incredible.

I just saw Newsies in August and it has mind-blowing dance. These boys were jumping over each, sliding under each other, tap-dancing, ballet, flips, and dancing on newspapers.  The dance is part of why I love Newsies and why it became meaningful.

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There is also the spectacle found in Phantom of the Opera. So I do find the spectacle and dance very unique. Just like song, spectacle and dance adds an incredible texture to a musical. The dance and spectacle enhances the experience and provides me with a positive experience.

So the dance and spectacle provides something unique to a musical experience. What are your feelings about the spectacle and dance found in a musical?

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Exciting Numbers in Musicals

When it comes to musicals, there is a certain kind of song I think about when it comes to the word show tune. They are the songs that tend to start out slow and eventually reach a point where they speed up and gain more energy. Those are usually some of the most exciting songs in the musical world. Each time I see a new musical, I always hope a song in that nature shows up, but I don’t mind if they don’t. Here is a list of some examples of those types of songs.

  1. Seize the Day
  2. Popular
  3. Do Re Mi
  4. My Favorite Things
  5. Your’e Never Fully Dressed Without a Smile
  6. Seventy Six Trombones
  7. America
  8. There is Nothing Like a Dame
  9. Magic to Do
  10. Mr. Mistoffelees
  11. We Beseech Thee
  12. Dancing Through Life
  13. We Go Together
  14. Good Morning
  15. I Just Can’t Wait to Be King
  16. Be Our Guest

From elementary to the end of high school, my definition of “full of life” referred only to these kinds of songs. Those numbers most likely tend to be a dance or spectacle number.