Today, I decided to talk about something kind of different. In the past, I did make a list of where all of my favorite musicals take place. What about if I just focus on only the fictional locations.
I decided to start with OZ because Wicked takes place here. So many people know my special love for Wicked. Wicked is about the relationship between Elphaba (AKA the Wicked Witch of the West) and Glinda. One of its subplots is the love triangle between Elphaba, Fiyero, and Glinda. The friendship between Elphaba and Glinda is powerful, strong, and beautiful. “For Good” perfectly illustrates this friendship.
Everything about the musical feels OZian- from costumes to set to characters’ names to location names.
Agrabah- Middle East
Home to Aladdin. Its’ set and costumes brings you straight to Agrabah and its many settings from the Palace to the Market to the Cave of Wonders.
Not yet seen Frozen on stage, but Arendelle is the setting of Frozen.
Fictional Town in France
While we never KNOW the name of the town Beauty and the Beast takes place in, we do know it takes place in France, and that the town is fictional. Most of the musical takes place at the castle- I only have seen both movies (cartoon and live action).
What are other fictional locations musicals take place in that you can think of?
I am ALWAYS a bit nervous when it comes to musical sequels. They easily can be screwed up. However, in the past I saw two sequels in the past that actually worked: Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again and Mary Poppins Returns. That was because they had good songs and felt like a wonderful continuation of the original songs. When I found out that Frozen would have a sequel, I actually was nervous- I had formed a strong bond to Frozen- so of course I would be kind of nervous even though it still would have Elsa, Anna, Kristoff, Olaf, and Sven and the same actors/actresses playing them.
Frozen II was the last thing I did in 2019. Would it work or it would be it in shambles? It was another sequel that worked in my opinion- if you want SPOILERS, PROCEED.
Just like the original, it opened with the exact same song- not “Frozen Heart”, but BEFORE any action or seeing any characters. It actually BEGAN as flashback to Elsa and Anna’s childhood: you learn about this Enchanted Forest. What you learn in this flashback is important for important for the entire movie. When I learn the first song- I knew the sequel did something right.
This is actually a more mature version of Frozen. It all began when Elsa heard this voice, and wanted to know where it was coming from. Most of it takes place in that Enchanted Forest. While Elsa in the original had her big number, this time, more of them had their own. Kristoff and Anna had their own- they had their own struggles allowing them to need a main solo. It still mainly focused on the sisterhood- Elsa still needed some help and had to be saved. I did like the songs.
Well- at one point, I thought we were going to lose both Elsa and Olaf. Elsa did take things a bit too far: I realized she was complex in the original, but this film made her more complex: she has two power ballads in this one. Anna literally thought she lost her sister- that was when her ballad entered; that song was heartbreaking. She had to save The Enchanted Forest alone- Kristoff wasn’t around. At the end, while Anna saved the Enchanted Forest, Elsa saved Arendelle. Well, at the end, Anna had to become Queen of Arendelle while Elsa had to look after The Enchanted Forest. Like expected- Kristoff, while struggling to propose to Anna, ended up proposing to Anna.
I still feel like a lot of my bond to Frozen came from Wicked.
What exactly do I mean when I say parallels in musicals? Parallels exist when you see this sort of similarity between more than one musical- as in character or song. It can explain why we love some characters and the musical itself. What are some of examples?
Newsies/Friends of the ABC- well, both groups have a brotherly love for each other that feel like family and have a cause they strongly believe in
Jack Kelly and Enjolras- these two are the leaders of the Newsies and Friends of the ABC. They are good leaders, but the main difference comes from what they care about the most.
Enjolras and Fiyero- out of all parallels, I do not quite understand this. I honestly love both characters. But it never made since why I parallel them to each other. The only thing I know that they share in common is that they are courageous young men.
Elphaba and Eponine- Well, two girls with not good family lives; unrequited love happens to both (will something change for one of them?); taken advantage of. In terms of personality- complex, strong, and brave. I think my love of Elphaba is where my beautiful bond to Eponine came from- Elphaba is my favorite musical theatre character just to let you know
Elphaba and Elsa- well, two young adults who have powers they don’t know how to control and are literally labeled to be “monsters”. They are similar in that way.
Glinda and Anna- these two are actually funny and outgoing.
Sisterhood/Friendship of Frozen and Wicked- The friendship in Wicked is almost identical to the sisterhood found in Frozen. That most be where a lot of my love for Frozen comes from- Wicked itself. The true love in both musicals is not romance, but sisterhood and friendship
Let it Go/ Defying Gravity- these two songs are literally about the same thing and they do sound very similar to each other
One character that is very hard to get to know in Wicked is Fiyero, a Winkie Prince. He is more complex than he seems to be. He might seem simple on the surface, but in reality that is not the case- I know this from seeing Wicked four times and being around Wicked for thirteen years. PROCEED, BUT MAJOR SPOILERS:
He truly is a jerk when you first meet him. He is so annoying, and this bugs Elphaba. He did knock her over along with her school supplies- you do not think anything will happen between the two of them. He literally has been kicked out of several schools. He does not care about school one bit and cares more about the fun. In the beginning- it is Glinda and Fiyero. He organizes a school dance, and this is actually the moment when Elphaba and Glinda first bond and become friends.
The Lion Cub Scene, I believe, happened a few months later. He actually has softened up a bit. Elphaba recently cast a spell on an entire classroom after seeing a scared lion cub in a cage. Fiyero is trying to figure out why that spell did not affect him. The Lion Cub Scene is when the love triangle between Elphaba, Fiyero, and Glinda truly begins- it actually does some foreshadowing for Fiyero’s decision in act II. Based on the way that Fiyero and Elphaba are interacting shows that Fiyero does have a crush on Elphaba, but deep down does not seem fully aware of it. It is this scene when Elphaba comes to the conclusion that she, in fact, is falling in love with Fiyero, which leads to “I’m Not That Girl”. Elphaba actually made up her mind not to steal Fiyero away from her best friend- that is how strong their friendship is- they will not let a boy get in the way.
Little does Elphaba know what will happen in act II. She will end up with Fiyero, and her best friend will get the unrequited love she faced in act I. The Lion Cub Scene was one clue that pointed to that. Another scene that showed that Fiyero had a crush on Elphaba was before she left for the Emerald City- Fiyero could not stop thinking about the Lion Cub Incident.
“Thank Goodness” was truly the moment when Fiyero picked up on his love for Elphaba he was blind to. He was upset about the rumors spread about Elphaba, and could not believe Glinda was not doing anything to prevent that (Glinda was Elphaba’s best friend after all). Glinda did not like it either, but Fiyero could believe she was supporting all of that. Fiyero automatically left to go looking for Elphaba to confess his love for her.
Fiyero went from being a jerk to softening up to becoming this courageous and mature young man. When he found Elphaba, she was able to realize that he did love her. They both ran out to confess their love for each other (“As Long as Your’e Mine”-my favorite Fiyero costume is what he is wearing in this number). Both protected each other from this number on- when Elphaba was about to get arrested- Fiyero arrived and told others to “Let her Go”, and as an attempt to protect him from getting hurt, Elphaba tried spell after spell. Their relationship is so unexpected- considering the fact that 1) Elphaba did not like him in the beginning and 2) Elphaba had unrequited love for him in the beginning.
Here’s what I believe- I think the love triangle in Wicked develops and matures in the same way the characters do.
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)?
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
I will basically explain in this post what I believe are the main things that made me a musical theatre fanatic in the first place. In my opinion, there are three main things. I am only 25 now and becoming a musical theatre fanatic started in elementary school. My family, Wicked, and Les Mis were the main reasons why I am a musical theatre fanatic. Why do I believe they were the main reasons- let me explain.
I will start by saying this- I was raised in Charlotte, NC. That meant my family and I were in a popular touring city. Charlotte’s way of getting the tours is through Blumenthal Performing Arts.
My family raised my sister and I on musicals. Since I am a 90s kid, I was exposed to the cartoons of Lion King, Aladdin, and Beauty and the Beast. In elementary school, I also saw the movies of Grease, Sound of Music, and Annie (my favorite musical at the time). My family took me to live productions as well: Lion King, Cats, and Seussical the Musical: these were the shows I saw in elementary school. I do not remember seeing any of them. I do remember seeing Wicked, Mamma Mia, and Addams Family- all were seen with Blumenthal. I even saw Oliver (not with Blumenthal, but at Barter Theater in Virginia): another musical I do not remember seeing. I saw the movies of Hairspray, Mamma Mia Enchanted, and all of the High School Musical movies. So, I was around musicals a number of times growing up. What I thought a musical was ended up being based around all of those musicals. Let me go back to the first time I saw Wicked (yes, there was one time I saw Wicked before Blumenthal).
Well, in 2006 my mom and I went on vacation to NYC. Due to being to in NYC, my mom did take me to see a musical on Broadway. That musical was Wicked- a musical that would change me “for good”. All I do remember is that “Popular” was my favorite song. Wicked truly was the beginning of my musical theatre journey. Once Wicked entered my life, I started to understand emotional connection. It also taught me about the emotional and complex side of musicals. I do not know when the 2nd time was (the 2nd time was when I first saw it with Blumenthal- but I think 2008). Well, four emotions part of the musical world as in the core emotions: excitement, love, joy and sad- I knew they were common.
Let me list the years of the musicals that followed after seeing Wicked on Broadway: just the ones before I graduated from high school:
Mamma Mia (2009)
Addams Family (2011)
Growing up, I saw more musical movies than going to see a musical live. A love may have been sparked, but not a passion. I did not have the main goal of wanting to see at least one musical a year. I did not look up Blumenthal’s season each year. At least, I knew exactly what made a musical well a musical. I had no idea everything I knew would soon be challenged.
I had kinda of an interesting journey with Les Mis (at least in the beginning). Well, my first full experience was the film in the movie theater. I actually did not want to see it. I was a bit unsure of it myself. My parents did not tell the genre of Les Mis- obviously I knew it was a musical, but defiantly not a TRAGEDY. I had never knew about or seen a tragic musical before. After the first character died, I realized it was tragic. Due to that shocking realization, I did not know how to respond. After the film ended, I did have “Do you Hear the People Sing” stuck in my head, but at the same time did NOT know if I liked the musical. Crazily enough, for some reason at least a week or a few days after I started researching the musical.
Then I decided to at least give Les Mis a 2nd chance. This time, I was able to calm down. It was in this chance where I actually fell in love with the musical. I actually started to realize there is something special in Les Mis. I once told myself I will NEVER love a tragedy in any form- in literature, in film, or on the stage. Les Mis challenged the entire way I view musicals. I had thought ALL musicals were happy and comical that had only a few sad moments. I thought I fully knew the full extent of musical theatre emotions- boy was I so wrong: I was 100% blind to heartbreak: it did help that sad was already existent- Wicked brought that emotion to life. I thought any death scene would be unmemorable and that a musical theatre song could not exist during those- look what Les Mis disproved. I thought tragedies were pure sad: Les Mis isn’t: it has this beautiful underlying spirituality, which is why it goes past its tragic nature. Les Mis turned a love that was sparked by Wicked into a passion. I am obsessed with Les Mis- an emotional wreck.
I have seen the stage show of Les Mis six times and seen the stage show of Wicked four times- does that say something about how much I love both musicals? Wicked has a character a strongly relate to (Elphaba- my favorite musical character) and spectacle/dance. People keep on saying that Les Mis is my favorite musical, but in reality these two musicals are tied. Wicked is home to my favorite friendship/love triangle. I do not think Les Mis would have been in my life it wasn’t for Wicked.
The pictures above are from the latest two times I saw the stage shows of Les Mis and Wicked. As a matter of fact, I saw both at Ovens Auditorium.
Now, today: I have a main goal of wanting to see at least one musical per year. For the most part, I see musicals through Blumenthal Performing Arts. Other musicals I have seen on stage include Newsies, Rent, Lion King, Miss Saigon, Aladdin, Lion King (the 2nd time), Pippin, Sound of Music- those I saw with Blumenthal; Les Mis (the 5th time) and Phantom of the Opera- those at the Peace Center in Greenville; and Fiddler on the Roof and Annie- those at the Fox Theater in St. Louis. Only listing the tours. For next year: the tours I hope to catch are Anastasia, Frozen and Wicked with Blumenthal Performing Arts.