My Vision of Musicals

Everyone has a vision of what they want from a musical.  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, 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 if 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 be 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?

Musical Character Connection vs Entire Musical Connection

This does sound bizarre, but I do believe there is a difference between an emotional connection to a musical character and an emotional connection to the entire musical. That sounds really bizarre because you would think both mean the same thing, but in reality they really don’t. But sometimes your emotional connection a character is the same thing to an emotional connection to the entire musical .

Wicked is a musical I have an emotional connection to Elphaba and love Fiyero and Glinda as well. My emotional connection to Elphaba does connect to my emotional connection to the entire show. I don’t have emotional connections to Nessa, Boq, Madmae Morrible, and the Wizard. But I do have an emotional connection to the entire show thanks to my personal relationship with Elphaba and the friendship found between Elphaba and Glinda and the love triangle between Elphaba, Glinda, and Fiyero.

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Even my emotional connection in Newsies is the same thing as my emotional connection to the entire musical. I actually have two emotional connections in this show. I have an emotional connection in the intimate relationship found between the friendship between Jack and Crutchie. I even have an emotional connection to all of the Newsies. The story is about the Newsies after all, which is why my emotional connection to the Newsies is the same as my emotional connection to the entire show.

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Even in Beauty and the Beast, I only have emotional connections to Beast and Belle and characters like Lumiere and Cogsworth and Chip and Mrs. Potts. But I don’t have an emotional connection to Gaston. It is more important for me to be emotionally connected to Belle instead of Gaston. Having an emotional connection to Belle and Beast is important because the plot centers around them.

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But can you have an emotional connection to a character, but have zero emotional connection to the actual plot? Yes, that is very possible. I love Anna from King and I, but I am not fully emotionally connected to the entire plot and the show isn’t even meaningful to me. Even in Little Shop of Horrors, I only love Seymour and Audrey, but just don’t have an emotional connection to the plot.

The emotional connections are highly important. Usually the songs are what forms the emotional connection. I feel like you need an emotional connection to both the characters and the plot. True, there some characters I don’t have an emotional connection to in certain musicals. I don’t have an emotional connection to Madame Morrible, the Wizard or like any antagonist or villain, but a few expectations. Honestly, your emotional connection might also have to do with the portrayal of characters.

I don’t have an emotional connection to Javert exactly, but the last time I saw Les Mis live, I found some emotional connection to that character. I honestly have no emotional connection to the Thenardiers either. Despite that, I have an emotional connection to the entire show. I don’t relate to the characters that well in Les Mis, but I do have an emotional connection to Jean Valjean’s story, Fantine’s story, the love triangle found between Eponine, Cosette, and Marius and have an emotional connection to Enjolras, Gavroche and the students. You can’t have an emotional connection to a plot if you don’t have an emotional connection to characters.

The emotional connections are why every scene in a musical has joy in them even in heartbreaking or bittersweet moments. The songs form an emotional connection very easily. I feel like it is important to be emotionally connected to the protagonist’s story and if there are subplots, it is important to be emotionally connected to some of them because they help support the main plot. Having joy in every emotion is connected to the experience and connects to an emotional connection to the plot and characters and the fact that if you care enough about the characters and their journeys, you accept the emotions that you are feeling.

An amazing amount of musicals have some heartbreaking or sad moments. I understand that sad was a main emotion starting in middle school. I wasn’t 100% blind to the negative in those days, but I was 100% blind to heartbreak.

I know this sounds crazy. But there really is a difference between an emotional connection to characters and emotional connection to plot. However they are very interconnected and depend on each other.

Ingredients to a Good Musical

What makes a good musical? What makes you drawn to the material?

For me, the first thing to look at are the songs themselves. For me, if the songs are good, the musical is also good. Something has to draw you to the characters and plot and that usually starts with the songs. When you fall in love with the songs, than you usually slowly fall in love with the emotions themselves.

The next things to truly look at are the characters and storyline. This also connects to the nature of the songs. Do the songs reflect the characters and the storyline? Do the emotions of the story also fit with the songs? In a lot of ways, the songs, characters, and storyline all depend on each other.

The best characters tend to always be some of the complex characters. In addition, almost always, the best storylines tend to reflect both positive and negative emotions and do not usually have a simple plot. That is just in general, but sometimes every so often, you can fall in love with a plot or character that is very simple or you can fall in love with a plot that doesn’t even have the negative emotions.

For me, sometimes the dance or spectacle helps me fall in love with a musical. I tend to look for that when I see a new musical. Sometimes the dance helps strengthen the characters or storyline. It even can help with the setting as well.

But overall, the most important aspect to look for in a musical is an emotional connection. Do you have an emotional connection to the material? Was it worth feeling all of the characters emotions? Did you have joy feeling the negative emotions if they were present? Did you feel like you truly care about the characters?

Listed below are some of the best musical songs (only one per show):

  1. Tomorrow
  2. Seize the Day
  3. Some Enchanted Evening
  4. Corner of the Sky
  5. Edelweiss
  6. For Good
  7. On My Own
  8. Seventy Six Trombones
  9. Memory
  10. Seasons of Love
  11. Music of the Night

Now listed below are some of the best musical characters:

  1. Elphaba
  2. Eponine
  3. Crutchie
  4. Annie
  5. Pippin
  6. Maria (Sound of Music)
  7. Mimi
  8. Don Quixote
  9. Nellie
  10. Grizabella

Now I am listing some of the best musical plots

  1. Wicked
  2. Les Mis
  3. Newsies
  4. South Pacific
  5. Sound of Music
  6. Annie
  7. Rent
  8. Music Man
  9. Fiddler on the Roof

So, the songs are key to a wonderful musical. You can fall in love with the characters and storyline, but if the songs are bad, it can make everything else kind of boring. Bad songs lead to you not caring about the characters and the emotions. Good songs can help bring out the best in the characters and allows you to stay emotionally connected.

In your opinion, what do you think makes a good musical?