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:
- Wicked (2008?)
- Oliver (2007)
- 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.