Like a lot know, I have been seeing musicals since elementary school. Now, I think I will create a list of musicals I remember seeing- so some musicals will be left off. I will sort them by year.
This was Wicked on Broadway. I remember going with my mom, and that Popular was my favorite song. I eventually forgot the year, but when I looked at a bottom of a NYC ornament, I was able to figure out when. Wicked was truly when my musical theatre journey began.
This was Mamma Mia- I found the year on my playbill. This was one I loved.
It was in October where I saw Addams Family. I had to do some research to figure out when I saw the US Tour. I knew I saw it in October and that was part of the 2nd half of high school- I forgot to use those clues to figure out when. I soon found out. I actually remember sitting in the balcony of Ovens Auditorium, and leaving the show thinking it was just weird. It was one of the musicals I didn’t like.
This was the year where I started seeing two musicals. La Cage was what I saw a few days after graduating from high school. I didn’t like La Cage either.
Godspell ended these musicals. Central Piedmont Community College did a production of Godspell in September. I had no idea I would be seeing some of these actors again. I loved Godspell- that came of no surprise due to Stephen Schwartz writing the music.
This year was another two musical year. I wanted to see Wicked this year because my dad hadn’t seen it yet. My dad still gave me the better seat. Before the show began, the tallest guy at Ovens sat in front of me, so my dad switched places with me. At the end of the show, my dad told me, he knew why I loved the musical so much.
Les Mis was CPCC’S 2nd production I saw. Ryan Deal, who played Jean Valjean, was also my Jesus in Godspell. This may have been a community college production, but it was phonmenlaul. I saw it once with my family and twice as an usher. This production was the motor for wanting to see Les Mis in London. This was seen November 15th, 17th, and 24th.
Now, I have a four musical year. At times, I keep on forgetting this consists of four musicals. This was actually the first year where I saw a musical at The Peace Center in Greenville. My mom and I were sitting a few rows back from the chandelier. I was literally spellbound and was choked up when I watched it. I did have an understudy for Christine (Grace Morgan)
Porgy and Bess was what I saw in summer. This was a musical I did kinda of enjoy, but entered the list of did not like.
I saw both Scrooge and Annie in December (I believe). Scrooge was based off of A Christmas Carol. This time, went to Children’s Theater- I was an usher there as well.
When I saw Annie, I went to St. Louis alone to spend time with my grandma. Part of that trip included seeing Annie at the gorgeous Fox Theater.
2015- the best musical year
2015, like 2014, had four musicals. Spring 2015 was when I transferred from CPCC to Gardner Webb. I was able to catch GWU’s production of Music Man. Of all the musicals I saw this year, Music Man was the most light-hearted.
May was when my mom and I saw Pippin, which almost didn’t happen. My mom decided to get tickets the week before, and there was only day with seats together. “Corner of the Sky” made me want to see the musical. Of course I loved it, Stephen Schwartz also wrote this musical. There was something interesting about the first two musicals. There were the ones I was most inexperienced with. I had two understudies (I believe) for Pippin (Sam Lips) and The Leading Player (Lisa Karlin). The true standout of the night was Lisa Karlin.
Now, it is July 30th, 2015. My family was in England for a Bristol Pilgrimage, and we decided to go up early. This time, I was seeing a musical in The West End. Seeing Les Mis in London was a dream of mine since CPCC’s production. This time, I finally got to see Les Mis in The West End. I had one understudy, who was for Valjean (Adam Bayjou). I had a little bit of culture shock due to having to buy the playbill. Well, seeing The Queen’s Theater was surreal as well as buying souvenirs, seeing the set, and noticing how close I was. Nothing felt real at all- then I heard the first notes, and I knew this dream was becoming reality and that it would be more than excepted. Those notes did not lie- it was more than excepted. From ensemble to leads to staging to the orchestra were why. I knew I would be an emotional wreck and would laugh a couple of times.
Usually at the end of a stage show, I don’t stand up right away, but this time I did. I did not think about going to stage door, but my mom convinced me to. I was able to met the actor, who played Valjean. While watching Les Mis, I did not believe I was watching an set- that was how good Adam Bayjou was. He signed my playbill, and I got a picture with him.
I literally thought Les Mis would end the 2015 musicals. However, I was wrong about that. It ended with Sound of Music. That musical is a childhood musical- so I loved how it ended with that one. I was new to the stage show, but not the musical. There were songs I heard that I never knee about. I was shocked that I was in tears during Edelweiss.
This was a two musical year. Seeing Wicked with Gardner Webb was special. GWU and Wicked both changed me for the better. When Wicked tours to Charlotte, it is always played at Ovens Auditorium. Mary Kate Morrissey was a standby for Elphaba, and she totally took me off guard. Elphaba still remains my favorite musical theatre character. Her Glinda (Amanda Jane Copper) and Fiyero (Ashely Parker Angel) were incredible. This is the cast I remember the most.
Newsies entered my life in August of 2016. I wanted to see it due to enjoying the songs I already heard. When I heard it won Best Choreography, I knew I was in for a treat. It is just amazing how these Newsboy literally stood up for what they believed in. Can’t believe The Newsboy Strike of 1899 actually happened. Joey Barreiro is my favorite Jack Kelly. Kaitlyn Frank as Katherine Plumber was an understudy. I was mind-blown by the dance- they were literally just that good.
I saw three musicals this year. It all started with Little Shop of Horrors, which I was an usher for. That was the 2nd musical I saw at Gardner Webb. I only love like five songs from the musical, but can understand why others love it. The main reason why I don’t own a playbill is because GWU didn’t print out enough. Well, I was almost in tears at Audrey’s death, and really loved “Suddenly Seymour”, my favorite song from the musical. There were times when I literally wanted to yell at the plant.
Rent was the 2nd musical I saw this year. I literally felt as if I will never see this musical. It took a while till there was a tour. When I heard Rent was coming September of 2017, I knew I had to start convincing my parents. Like excepted, I was an emotional wreck. In terms of emotional wreck, it is the next level down from Les Mis.
This was yet another Les Mis year, but there was a dilemma. I had to choose between seeing Les Mis in Greenville with my university or see it in Charlotte with my mom. I wanted to do both, but I could only pick one. I was stumped- I thought about both venues. But where to see the US Tour. I decided to go with Gardner Webb because I wanted to make the most of my Senior Year. This particular memory made Les Mis even more meaningful. While yes, I was taken off guard during The West End, I was taken even more off guard by this production. My standouts of this time belonged to Nick Cartell (Valjean), Joshua Grosso (Marius), and Matt Shingledecker (Enjolras). Only had one understudy, who was for Eponine. Little did I know I would see some of these actors again.
I actually was useful to some people going with us. At intermission, the person sitting next to me started asking me Les Mis questions, and I was able to to answer. I was an emotional wreck once again. This time was November 5th, 2017. I was literally an emotional wreck twice close to each other- don’t forget Rent was September and Les Mis was November.
2018- quality is stronger than quantity
Of all my musical theatre years, 2018 had the most musicals. However, that does not necessarily mean it was the best musical year. I was able to catch five musicals this year.
After graduating from Gardner Webb, I decided to check out CPPC’s Summer schedule. After all, I started college at CPCC. I was pleased by the musicals coming over Summer- was going to see three of them. I already knew how professional they shows tend to be.
Let me start at Oklahoma. I had fallen in love with Oklahoma by the movie in 2014. Well, two Godspell actors would be part of this production- as Laurey and Will Parker. It took until this time to realize Oklahoma was home to two love triangles. This was a date with my mom.
My next CPCC musical over the Summer was Grease. It was a date with my sister and one of our friends. I already started to love the musical by the movie in elementary school. CPCC actually got permission to use four songs originally not part of Grease.
By the beginning, I already started to realize some differences between stage and movie. There are more songs in the stage show, and does start differently.
Newsies was the most unexpected musical of this Summer. I kept on convincing the parents to get tickets, but nothing seemed to be happening. When the week came of Newsies, I still was nagging on my parents. Then Saturday hit, which was final day of the musical, and I accepted that I wouldn’t be seeing the musical.
Out of the blue, one of my best friends from college just showed up at my house. I literally thought the two of us were going to go shopping. I was asked “what do you want to do today”. I was like, lets go shopping. I literally said “I just wish I was seeing Newsies today”. Well, even when we were close to CPCC, I was asked if we could tour the Campus. I was picking up on no clues. Then, she said “I want to see the theater, will you take there?” I was literally like, only ushers and those seeing the musical can go in the theater. It just so happened that we were in will call line waiting to pick up tickets. After thinking I wasn’t going to see Newsies, I discovered I was.
Ashton Guthrie was in this production, and I already saw him as Curly. He was Jack Kelly in this production. I loved that the towers were still used. For all the productions over the Summer, the sets moved smoothly (which was done by the actors). I was able to see a sense of maturity in Jack Kelly I never saw before. Here is one thing I loved- the casting of Cruthcie. I love the fact that he was an actor of color. I mainly wanted to see Newsies to see how they could handle the dance.
Now, I was seeing Blumenthal productions. When I graduated, one of the first things I learned was that my sister, mom, and I were going to see Lion King. This was the only time I remember seeing the stage show. We had perfect seats- we were in the orchestra at the aisle, which were perfect seats for the opening number. I loved Jared Dixon as Simba and Nia Halloway as Nala. I loved my Mufasa so much that I literally was almost (I believe) in tears at his death- I just wanted him to last longer.
Originally, I thought I would be seeing four musicals. I thought Lion King would end 2018’s musicals. Turns out I was wrong. I had joined Club Blume, Blumenthal’s Young Adult Club, over the Summer. When the informance of A Christmas Story- The Musical, happened I wanted to go to start doing something with the group. We learned the history of the movie, and how it eventually became a musical. I learned it usually tours the US every year. After hearing that those who wrote the music for The Greatest Showman also were responsible for writing A Christmas Story-The Music, I decided to go ahead and go. I did enjoy seeing the musical and something as simple as dogs made me laugh.
Due to going with Club Blume, I was able to go on discount. That is what the vouchers we are given at the informances are able to do.
This year consisted of four musicals, and only one was unexpected. Originally, I thought Miss Saigon would open up this year’s musicals. However, that wasn’t the case. At the end of beginning of February, my mom and I went to St. Louis to visit my grandma. Part of that trip consisted of seeing Fiddler on the Roof, which is a musical I love.
Miss Saigon happened the exact same month as Fiddler on the Roof. If it wasn’t for Les Mis, I wouldn’t have given Miss Saigon a chance. Les Mis taught me I can love tragedies. What drove me the most to Miss Saigon was those who wrote the music (they also wrote the songs for Les Mis). Knowing my response to Les Mis, I knew I would be an emotional wreck. I was right- the moment I remember being an emotional wreck the most was during “Sun and Moon”. Due to having Emily Bautista as Kim and Anthony Festa as Chris, I really really didn’t want their relationship to fail even though I knew it was to be.
There are some songs I love from this musical- “Movie in my Mind”, “Why God Why”, “Sun and Moon”, “I Still Believe” ,and “I’d Give My Life For You”- those are the ones I remember the most. I did go to Club Blume’s informance, and I was able to get a tour of Belk Theater.
Aladdin was my 2nd Club Blume Show. I went to the informance, which served Middle Eastern food. The informance was all about the history of Disney movies- the entire club ended up singing along to some of the songs. I came in knowing I would love Aladdin. I was able to fall in love with new songs and enjoy the songs I already knew. I did get a little emotional during “Proud of Your Boy”.
Les Mis ended 2019’s musicals. The US Tour decided to go back to Charlotte. I was surprised I was able to see some of the exact same actors as 2017. I was able to see Josh Davis (Javert), Jillian Butler (Cosette), Joshua Grosso (Marius), Matt Shingledecker (Enjolras), and Allison Guinn (Madame Thenardier) a 2nd time. Only got two of my standouts from last time- Joshua and Matt. I would have had Nick Cartell if I didn’t end up with an understudy for Valjean- I had to have Andrew Maughan as Valjean.
I was an emotional wreck like always. Getting Matt and Joshua back was such a delight. I don’t exactly know why Matt is a standout, but I know why Joshua is. Joshua Grosso was able to make Marius almost a core favorite character- he added awkwardness to the character, which made him more charming. The way in which he and Jillian connect is incredible- Joshua treated “A Heart Full of Love” like “I don’t know what to do”. Due to having Joshua with two Eponine actresses, I was able to see “A Little Fall of Rain” done a bit differently- however both times he focused more on comforting Eponine, and waited till the end to show his heartbreak at her death.
This was another Les Mis date with my mom. I never thought I would repeats, but I did.
I am glad I was able to see one musical instead of none. I was able to catch the Tour of Come From Away in January. I loved that a lot of humanity and compassion was show in Gander, Newfoundland during 9/11. Such a remarkable story about how they stepped in and helped those that had to stop in Gander. If COVID didn’t hit, I would have been able to see four musicals this year, but at least I saw something instead of nothing.