The World of Classics of Musicals

What do I mean by a classic musical? Whenever I think of the classics, I tend to think of those from the Golden Age of musicals. I am a fan of the classic musicals and that says a lot about my tastes in musicals. The fact that I love musicals from the Golden Age really says a lot.

The very first classic musical I ever loved was Sound of Music. It was a movie I saw when I was a kid. I have loved it ever since elementary school. It is my favorite of all the classic and the best Rodgers and Hammerstein musical in my opinion. I am drawn to its themes of music and family. It has this memorable score with songs like “My Favorite Things”, “Do Re Mi”, “Sound of Music”, “Climb Every Mountain” and “Edelweiss”. It is one of the most meaningful musicals of my life. It after all is a musical I have loved since elementary school and it still holds a special place in my heart.

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Another Rodgers and Hammerstein I love is South Pacific. It is a romantic story and is about the relationship between Emelie and Nellie. It has memorable songs like “Some Enchanted Evening”, “There is Nothing Like a Dame”, “This Nearly Was Mine” and “Younger Than Springtime”. It does deal with interracial marriage and does deal with racism. In the song, “You’ve Got to Be Carefully Taught”, it shows that racism is taught and it isn’t something we are born with.

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Other Rodgers and Hammerstein musicals I have seen are Oklahoma, King and I, and Cinderella. Rodgers and Hammerstein are one of the most important teams in the Golden Age. I don’t fully love King and I, but do some Anna and songs like “Getting to Know You”, “Shall We Dance” and “I Whistle a Happy Tune”. I love some of the songs from Cinderella as well. As a matter of fact, Oklahoma is when the Golden Age of Musicals truly begins.

Another Golden Age musical I have seen is Music Man. I first discovered it through Pandora. Before I saw it live, I was already familiar with songs like “Seventy Six Trombones”, “Ya Got Trouble” and “Gary Indiana”. My school decided to put together a production of Music Man in Spring of 2015. That was my first semester of Gardner Webb. One big reason why I love Music Man is just how light-hearted and happy it is.

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Another Golden Age musical I love is Singing in the Rain. I love songs like “Good Morning” and “Singing in the Rain”. Just like Music Man, the musical is very light-hearted and very happy. While I prefer musicals that have songs that have both positive and negative emotions, I don’t want all musicals to be in that nature. I love how simple both Singing in the Rain and Music Man are. Because they are in the light-hearted nature they are in, it helps balance out musicals.

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It wouldn’t be right to talk about the classics unless I bring up West Side Story. I have conflicting feelings about this musical. I saw the movie and I found the movie good, but nowhere close to being a masterpiece. But I did like the songs just enough to get the songs. I felt like the dancing was off in a way. It is one of the most well-known musicals. It is a tragic tale based off of Romeo and Juliet. I don’t love West Side Story, but I don’t love it either. I feel like it is somewhere between loving it and liking it. I honestly want to see the stage show to seeing how the dancing fares. In my personal opinion, I feel like dancing works better live due to the nature dancing in musicals has.

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I may just be a college student, but I do enjoy the classics. Loving and liking the classics in a way shows what kind of a musical fan I am. It shows I love musicals from a wide range of time periods. I didn’t know about the classics until about my college years. The only one I was aware of belong to Sound of Music because I grew up with the movie.

What are your thoughts about the classic musicals?

 

Young Musical Love

Romance is quite a beautiful part of musicals. No theme has been greater than that. But what is so special about the young love that is presented? As a matter of fact, most romances in musicals are young lovers. That makes sense because most musical characters are young.

I feel like with young musical characters, there is this kind of innocence built into them. There even is a wonderful sense of youth built into the romances as well. There even is a sense of maturity. At times, love has fragility and vulnerability built into the mix especially during unrequited love songs.

I feel like the love triangles fare very well with young musical characters. Whether that is the love triangle either in Wicked or Les Mis, it still works really well. The love triangles are incredibly complicated especially the Wicked one. No matter what, you can’t make all of the characters involved happy at all. I still don’t fully understand a love triangle, but it makes more sense than ever.

There is always the unrequited lover and that can be confusing. In the Wicked one, that is really challenging because the unrequited love shifts gears on you because it starts with Elphaba having unrequited love for Fiyero, but in act II it shifts to Glinda feeling unrequited love for Fiyero. Elphaba and Fiyero are my favorite musical couple because you wouldn’t expect them to get together at all. They may be young, but their song is so mature and quite mystical.

In the case of Les Mis, the unrequited love never shifts gears on you because it is always Eponine. This love triangle fares very well. There are two times where you see all three together and you end up feeling for all of them.

Eponine’s unrequited love for Marius is quite a special one because she constantly is showing true love towards him even if he won’t do the same for her. Eponine’s unrequited love is very heartbreaking and painful for her especially because Marius is the only good in her life and is the only person to show her kindness. That is why she loves Marius so much and why she keeps on loving him. She continues to love him until the very end of her story.

When it comes to Disney, young musical characters give the show a kind of magic, which is perfect for Disney. One such couple is Katherine and Jack, the newest Disney couple of my life. Below are pictures of young romances including my favorite couple. I feel like young musical romances are incredible because of their songs.

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Elphaba and Fiyero

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Cosette, Marius, Eponine

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Raoul, Christine

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Jack, Katherine

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Tony, Maria

What is special about young musical couples?

 

 

Serious Side of Musicals

The serious side of musicals refers to any of the dark moments and those moments are usually represented by elements of tragedy. These moments exist in the happy musicals, those that are not even happy, but just not sad, and well obviously they exist in the sad and tragic musicals. There are serious moments like unrequited love, death, prostitution, misery, discrimination, racism, gang violence and others.

I was well aware that sad was a musical emotion from before college. But I did not identify the sad moments as dark or serious. I hardly remember what sad was like in those days and did forget which shows they happened to be in. But it wasn’t forgotten in Wicked. I feel like in the college years, that emotion decided to start from the beginning and reached a degree that almost seemed impossible.

Possible Spoilers:

There are some serious moments that I keep on overlooking. These are moments I know happen in certain musicals, but keep on overlooking them. I always overlook parts of the serious side in Wicked even though I know it is in there. I never have overlooked the love triangle. It is the whole discrimination side of the story and the Wizard’s desire for power that keeps on being overlooked. That is partially due to the fact that I still view Wicked through the eyes of a middle schooler even though I also view it through the eyes of a college student. Another reason why I keep overlooking it is because the core of Wicked is the friendship between Glinda and Elphaba and not so much about the whole discrimination situation even though that is still quite important to the plot.

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But there are some musicals where the serious side just cannot be overlooked. Les Mis, Rent, and West Side Story are musicals that there is no way you can overlook the serious side. That is due to the fact that all three are sad musicals. West Side Story, in my opinion, is the mildest of all three and deals with gang rivalry which eventually leads to gang violence. West Side Story is Romeo and Juliet, but the main character’s names are Tony and Maria and a main difference is that one of the two main characters survive.

Rent deals with HIV/AIDS, which is the main serious moment the show focuses on, but there are other moments of seriousness. Roger for instance is dealing with depression  and Mimi is a heroin addict. It may have less deaths than West Side Story, but in my opinion, it is even sadder than WWS.maxresdefault

The saddest musical in my opinion so far is Les Mis. It deals with prostitution, poverty, unrequited love, a high death toll, injustice, abuse and other heartbreaking things. Without Les Mis, it still would be quite difficult to find other serious moments in other musicals.

All of the characters in some way experience something tragic in their lives. Cosette faces horrible abuse as a child and later at the end of the show, her father, Jean Valjean dies. Jean Valjean faces hard labor, injustice, and has to spend his life as an ex-convict. Fantine’s storyline is very heartbreaking because she was abandoned by her lover leaving her to be a single parent, has to leave her daughter in the hands of the Thenardiers, gets fired from her job and has to turn to prostitution to provide for her child, but little does she know that the Thenardiers are horribly abusing Cosette and later dies, but dies knowing her child will be safe and protected knowing that Jean Valjean will raise her daughter as his own.

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The Thenardiers don’t really seem to experience anything tragic, but their inn eventually goes bankrupt. Eponine, their daughter, does not have many good things happen in her life because she was raised to be a criminal and has to face horrible abuse by her parents and she feels unloved, neglected and lonely because she is left to fend for herself since her parents don’t even care or even love her. On top of all of this, she has to face unrequited love for Marius, but the really heartbreaking part about this situation is that Marius is the only light in her miserable life, but yet she can’t have him. She does not really get to experience happiness, but eventually she does after she gets shot at the barricade, which ends up being fatal, and ends up dying in Marius’ arms.

Enjolras, Gavroche and the students (excluding Marius) all lose their lives in the rebellion as well. Gavroche is the Thenardiers’ son, but the students take him in and they end up becoming like his family.

Javert is a tragic character who was born inside of a jail and does not seem to have much of a tragic life, but after realizing his beliefs and views of the world were wrong, misery comes crashing down on him in a matter of seconds after realizing that Valjean has changed. Javert always believed that “once a criminal always a criminal” and strictly follows the law, which eventually leads to his downfall eventually leading him to commit suicide. Marius, the survivor of the barricade, has to deal with survivor’s guilt and he literally lost all of his friends at the barricades including Eponine. All of these Les Mis characters in some shape or form experience something tragic in their lives. Some of them have very empty lives and some don’t, but still they all belong in Les Mis.

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One thing that South Pacific deals with is interracial marriage, which does touch on the idea of racism in a way. It does bring up the fact that racism is taught, which is expressed through the song “You’ve got to be carefully taught”. Both relationships, which are between Nellie and Emelie and Liat and Joe Cable both have their serious nature, but one of them turns out to be tragic. The relationship between Liat and Joe Cable, a sub-plot, is tragic because Joe Cable does leave Liat because he knows his family will not approve even though he loves Liat himself and while on a dangerous mission, Joe Cable gets killed. The relationship between Nellie and Emelie, the main relationship. almost didn’t happen in the end because Nellie left him after hearing about his interracial children, but in the end came back to him and Emelie got rescued from the dangerous mission he was on with Joe Cable.

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Even Phantom of the Opera expresses levels of darkness. It after all is a haunting musical but at the same time a romantic musical. The entire story is a love triangle between Christine, Raoul, and the Phantom. The Phantom’s story is one of unrequited love, but at the same time he is judged for his deformed face and does not have a very happy life, but rather a very heartbreaking one. The serious side mainly applies to the Phantom and he does not respond very well to his unrequited love due to acting in destructive ways and tries to get Raoul killed.

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The serious side of musicals is just as important as the comic side of musicals. You need to have the darkness because it does add incredible texture and balance to the world of musicals. You cannot have all musicals just having comic and happy moments. Having the serious moments adds more strength to a plot than what it appears. The negative emotions come from those serious moments.

While I still associate musicals with comedies,  I think the moments of seriousness and non-seriousness moments are very even and are well-balanced out. But yet there are still serious moments that are still overlooked even if I know they happen.There are other musicals that I know that have the serious moments that I did not include above, which include Cats, Fiddler on the Roof, Man of La Mancha, Lion King, Beauty and the Beast, and even Newsies because they all have to put up with the negative emotions at some point.

What are your opinions about the serious moments of musicals?

Seriousness of Romance in Musicals

In musicals, there is a serious side when it comes to love. Much of love in musicals doesn’t have much darkness or tragedy. But some musicals are dealing with love triangles, breakups, and tragic love stories. The most clear love triangles are in Wicked, Les Mis, and Phantom of the Opera. The entire plot of West Side Story is tragic, but in South Pacific, a sub-love plot is tragic. In South Pacific, you are dealing with a breakup.

If there happens to be a sad song in a musical, and the song happens to be a love song, the song will always be heartbreaking. Songs like “This Nearly Was Mine”, “Somewhere”, “I’m Not That Girl”, and “On My Own” are heartbreaking love songs. The serious side of love can be quite fascinating in a musical. It is crazy to say that four characters have dealt with unrequited love, who are the Phantom, Eponine, Elphaba, and Glinda.

Possible Minor or Major Spoilers:

It is odd in a way saying that Elphaba and Glinda have dealt with unrequited love since they are both from Wicked and are part of the same love triangle. The unrequited love shifts gears on you, which makes that love triangle quite confusing. The unrequited love seems to be placed mainly on Elphaba because she does not sing a reprise of “I’m Not That Girl”, but the entire song.

It seems crazy to call “I’m Not That Girl” a heartbreaking song when Elphaba sings it because she is eventually going to end up with Fiyero, but the song is still heartbreaking. At that point, Elphaba just found out that she loves Fiyero and does not think that she is good enough for him because she is green. But in the second act, Fiyero breaks up with Glinda and starts going out with Elphaba, which is very unexpected. Glinda than sings a reprise of “I’m Not That Girl”. Having the unrequited love shift on you in Wicked makes this love triangle quite complicated and makes this love triangle my favorite.

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As in the case of Eponine and the Phantom, their stories revolve around unrequited love. Besides unrequited love, they both have to deal with other tragic things. Phantom is judged for his deformed face , which makes him live in the catacombs of the Paris house. He does not respond to his unrequited love very well. When he finds out that Christine loves Raoul, this breaks his heart and he responds to very destructive ways. He seeks revenge and wants to kill Raoul. That is probably not the best way to respond to unrequited love.

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As in the case of Eponine (referring to musical Eponine), she does not respond to her unrequited love in that kind of nature. She does stick by Marius’ side no matter what, and puts aside her feeling for Marius and decides to help him and Cosette get together. Marius asks her to find Cosette for him because he knows that she knows the streets of Paris very well and she agrees realizing that it will make him happy. Even when her father and his gang try to rob Valjean’s house, she screams to protect Marius and Cosette. Despite being a Thenardier, she stays loyal towards Marius. She eventually accepts her current situation and she decides to disguise herself as a boy just to be with Marius at the barricade.

In the stage show, realizing that Eponine is in danger of getting killed, Marius sends Eponine away with a letter to Cosette. But yet Eponine still returns, which does lead her to a tragic end. She gets shot while climbing over the barricade and her wounds are fatal. But she gets to die in the arms of the man she loves. Dying in his arms is the happiest moment of her life and she doesn’t think about the physical pain she is since she is with Marius. Marius is devastated, but he stays brave for her and shows her compassion at the time of her death. So overall Eponine shows true love towards Marius all the way to death. Eponine knows how to respond to unrequited love in a less destructive way than the Phantom.

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There is the seriousness of South Pacific. The entire story is a romantic love story. The main love story happens between Emelie and Nellie, which almost didn’t work out in the end. Nellie does leave Emelie at one point in the storyline and breaks up with him and that is where the heartbreaking song, “This Nearly Was Mine” comes into play. Discovering the ethnicity of Emelie’s children, Nellie leaves him, but eventually learns her lesson. While Emelie goes on a dangerous mission, Nellies decides to take care of Emelie’s children.

In the case of Joe Cable and Liat, a sub-love plot, is tragic. Joe Cable loves Liat, but when asked if he wants to marry her, Joe Cable says no because his family wouldn’t approve due to Liat’s ethnicity. Joe Cable is part of that dangerous mission with Emelie and Joe Cable dies. South Pacific easily could have been a tragic musical, but because Emelie and Nellie are the main love story, it doesn’t make South Pacific tragic. Emelie gets rescued from the island and Nellie goes back to Emelie.

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Than there is West Side Story, the tragic love story between Maria and Tony. This musical is based off of Romeo and Juliet. West Side Story is partially part of my life, but is not even meaningful. But I liked the movie enough to get the songs and the movie is dance-drawn. I want to see the stage show to see if the dancing fares better on stage. Instead of feuding families, it is between feuding street gangs, the Jets and the Sharks. Tony is a former member of the Jets and Maria’s brother, Benardo, is the leader of the Sharks. As everyone knows, the love story doesn’t end too well with Tony and Maria because Tony gets killed by Chino because Tony killed Bernardo. As the love songs progress in West Side Story, each song gets sadder and sadder.

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The serious side of romance is quite interesting. Heartbreaking love songs are quite beautiful songs. My favorite romantic musical has to be South Pacific. My favorite love triangle is in Wicked due to the unrequited love shifting gears on you. Between the love triangles in Phantom of the Opera and Les Mis, I prefer the love triangle in Les Mis. I think the serious side of love gives an interesting texture to the plot. The love triangles can be so difficult to interpret especially the one in Phantom of the Opera.

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Favorite Heartbreaking Musical Songs

I once made a list of favorite sad musical songs. It included songs that are not heartbreaking, but just sad. All heartbreaking songs are sad, but not all sad songs are heartbreaking. I find the heartbreaking songs to be so much more beautiful, strong, fragile, and vulnerable than the songs that are just sad. Heartbreak is a deep level of sad, which has other negative emotions associated with it like loneliness and anger.

  1. On My Own- Les Mis
  2. I’m Not That Girl- Wicked
  3. I Dreamed a Dream- Les Mis
  4. A Little Fall of Rain- Les Mis
  5. Empty Chairs At Empty Tables- Les Mis
  6. Castle On A Cloud- Les Mis
  7. Come To Me/Fantine’s Death- Les Mis
  8. Memory- Cats
  9. Your Eyes- Rent
  10. One Song Glory-Rent
  11. Will I?- Rent
  12. I’ll Cover You (reprise)- Rent
  13. This Nearly Was Mine – South Pacific
  14. Wishing You Were Somehow Here Again- Phantom of the Opera
  15. Letter From The Refuge- written for the Tour of Newsies
  16. Somewhere- West Side Story
  17. If I Can’t Love Her- Beauty and the Beast

Possible Spoilers:

There was a time when songs like “I’m Not That Girl” were not interpreted as heartbreaking. I didn’t even know that emotion actually existed at the time. I didn’t fully know what it meant for a song to be heartbreaking. It was a heartbreaking musical that made me understand the negative emotions differently. “Les Mis” made me look at the negative emotions fresh and gave me a much clearer understanding of those emotions. While most musicals are happy, the sad musicals are just as essential as the happy musicals. When it comes to the negative emotions, I find something very special about feeling heartbroken. Heartbreak seems to the main source of sad. I was actually quite surprised that some of these songs are death songs.

The most memorable death in musicals so far is the death of Eponine in Les Mis. There is just something touching about “A Little Fall of Rain”. She has been shot and her wound is fatal. While she is dying, she in the arms of Marius, a sweet and compassionate boy  who she falls in love with unrequitedly. Being in his arms at the time of her death is the happiest moment of her life. While this leaves Marius devastated, he stays brave for her and comforts her until she dies.

Sometimes I feel like heartbreak can be very hard to describe. Even that layer of sad is layered too. For instance, I understand that both “On My Own” and “I’m Not That Girl” are heartbreaking unrequited love songs. But “On My Own” is more heartbreaking than “I’m Not That Girl”. The thing with “I’m Not That Girl” is right before Elphaba sang this song, she just realized she loves Fiyero. But with “On My Own”, when it is sung by Eponine, she already has known she has loved Marius for some time now and she loves Marius a lot more than how much Elphaba loves Fiyero.

Some of these songs I had to revisit. Some I don’t quite remember if I was able to view them as sad the first time around. I had nearly forgotten about “Letter From the Refuge” when I saw Newsies in August. It was written for Crutchie, but when I found the song again and listened to it again, I recognized one line that I remembered from the stage show. That was the one moment that I had forgotten about, but so glad I was able to revisit the song. I It took a couple of listens to understand the song was heartbreaking. Being at the Refuge is rough on Crutchie because he has a bum leg, which makes him quite vulnerable there. I do remember at the beginning of Newsies, you learn of the special love that Jack has for Crutchie and was worried that he will end up in the refuge. Jack is very protective of Crutchie and when Cruthcie was arrested at the end of Act 1, this leaves a lot of inner conflict for Jack to handle, which almost caused him to give up on the strike.

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Favorite Lead Characters that are not Protagonists in Musicals

This will be a list of some of my favorite leading characters in the world of musicals that are not the main characters. I will include a few supporting characters as well.

  1. Eponine
  2. Enjolras
  3. Young Cosette
  4. All the barricade boys
  5. Fantine
  6. Gavroche
  7. Fiyero
  8. Crutchie
  9. Davey
  10. Les
  11. All the other Newsies
  12. Katherine Plumber
  13. Catherine
  14. Theo
  15. Von Trapp Children
  16. Molly and the other orphans from Annie
  17. Daddy Warbucks
  18. Sandy-yes I just included a dog
  19. Riff
  20. Bernardo

Well without any of these characters, it would make the story feel kind of flat in a way. They help with the main character’s storyline. I know I did not include any antagonists or villains, but they are usually some of my least favorite characters even some do fascinate me in way, which are the more complex ones.

Even though the storylines either revolve around one or two characters, the storyline wouldn’t feel complete without the other leading characters. The most fascinating plots in my opinion are usually not simple, but instead complex or they are based on real events with a few exceptions. Even the best characters are complex, but there are a few exceptions.

 

Sad Musical Songs

Musicals are known to be emotional. The best musicals tend to have at least one sad song. I think sad songs give a show strength and creates conflict. These shows tend to be the most real and also are some of the most beautiful and memorable songs ever. Here is a list of some sad musical songs. This list does not include reprises or any song that only has a small portion of sad in it.

  1. Santa Fe (Newsies)
  2. I’m Not That Girl
  3. On My Own
  4. A Little Fall of Rain
  5. Drink With Me
  6. I Dreamed a Dream
  7. Empty Chairs at Empty Chairs
  8. Wishing You Were Somehow Here Again
  9. Will I
  10. Without You
  11. Your Eyes
  12. One Song Glory
  13. Somewhere
  14. This Nearly Was Mine
  15. Memory