The Biblical Musicals I Love

Yes, there are musicals that are based off of stories in the bible. I actually have fallen in love with two of them, and each of them were written by famous composers. I decided to talk about the two of them today. As a matter of fact, I ended up seeing both of them live at Central Piedmont Community College- seems to a kind of coincidence.

Godspell

I am going to start at Godspell, the 2nd Stephen Schwartz musical I fell in love with. Due to already falling in love with Wicked, I was convinced to give Godspell a chance. When I saw Godspell, I remember loving the costumes- from a hippie to a pink dress holding a white star and a guy with a black and red theme with a red mohawk. Little did I know I would see some of those actors again in future CPCC productions.

Ryan Deal, the Jesus, would eventually play Valjean and also would be in the Musical Revue, Some Enchanted Evening. One of the female ensemble members would be in the female ensemble of Les Mis and would eventually be Laurey in Oklahoma. The Judas would later play Will Parker in Oklahoma. I thought that was actually amazing that would happen- the fact I would see those three actors again.

Godspell has an incredible collection of fun and exciting songs. It feels like a modernized version of Jesus’ story- due to those fun costumes.

Favorite song: We Beseech Thee

Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat

I just recently saw Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. Another well-done production and crazily enough I saw an actor from the past- in the children’s choir, my Young Cosette from CPCC’s production was in this choir (glad to see her again). Really talented narrator and Joseph. After all, Joseph really shined during “Close Every Door”- I was in tears during that number (yes, I knew the song was heartbreaking, but wasn’t expecting that reaction. Even loved the group of brothers. Loved the colorful and fun costumes and that was an amazing ending.

Joseph has an amazing mix of fun and emotional songs- the way you want a musical theatre soundtrack to me. Makes a show more believable and relatable. What made Joseph meaningful was that it was the first musical I saw in person after musicals closed when the pandemic began. Seeing musicals was something I strongly missed- going to them is one of my biggest escapes. Still have a hard believing this was Webber’s first musical- after all, he was only 17, and it is an incredible musical.

Musicals I Love based on Books

A number of musicals are either based off a book, movie, or opera. There are times when literally, the musical is much better than the book. Now, what are some of my favorite book based musicals?

Les Misérables

This is one of Victor Hugo’s masterpieces. It is one of those musicals that is quite faithful to the book. Yes, there are a few differences, but I do love the changes. I love how Marius’ relationships are different in the musical. He is best friends with both Enjolras and Eponine the musical. As a matter of fact, I love that he is closer to both of those characters. Marius’ friendship with Eponine develops the love triangle even further- these two create one of my favorite musical friendships. Just like I love Eponine and Marius’ relationship, I also love the relationship between all the students: making Marius one of the main revolutionaries in some ways further develops Marius along with Enjolras. Those two relationships actually is deeper meaning that there would be more of an emotional punch in “A Little Fall of Rain” and creates a wonderful solo for Marius- “Empty Chairs at Empty Tables”.

Les Mis is such a powerful, epic, passionate, uplifting, and inspiring musical. The songs perfectly complement the characters.

This was probably one of the hardest musicals to adapt from the book. You are literally creating a musical that is based of a 1000+ book.

Wicked

Well, the musical and book really aren’t faithful to each other. The book is more of a tragedy while the musical is more of a comedy. The friendship between Elphaba and Glinda, and the love triangle between Elphaba, Glinda, and Fiyero aren’t exactly present in the book. I actually feel a stronger emotional connection to the musical. The fact that the musical centers around the friendship between Elphaba and Glinda makes Wicked a powerful musical. I really think the love triangle adds a lot more- we see a more drastic transformation happen with Fiyero. The love triangle does strengthen the friendship: after all, you can truly see Elphaba and Glinda’s loyalty in the love triangle.

Phantom of the Opera

Yes, I never read the book. All I know is that the novel reads more like a gothic and horror genre. My favorite characters in the musical are Raoul and Christine- I really love their romance. The musical has such a mysterious, beautiful, and angelic love triangle.

Oliver

I actually saw the stage show before reading the book- however don’t remember that first experience. So I eventually saw the musical again, but that time through the film. I learned to love Nancy even more in the musical- you really get to see her affection for Oliver grow, and with the addition of “As Long As He Needs Me” makes you care for that character even more.

Man of La Mancha

Don Quixote is one of my favorite books. The musical can be a bit confusing due to ” story within a story concept”. You really feel like you are in Spain due to the hispanic sound of the song. I loved how Aldonza is actually a character- it almost in some ways makes Don Quixote a better character in some ways. Don Quixote was the first tragicomic character I came across- still don’t fully understand that concept, but it does fascinate me.

Joseph

Shows based on stories found in the Bible count. I actually was introduced to this musical in elementary school- I was in the children’s choir at church, and for our end of year performance, we sang songs from Joseph. However, I didn’t fall in with the musical until this year- love those songs.

Godspell

While still on the topic of the Bible, Godspell is one of them. This is just one of three Stephen Schwartz musicals I love. It takes place during the last couple of days before the crucifixion. It almost feels as if they inserted the story into a modern setting- that has to do with the costumes.

What about you, what are some of your favorite book based musicals?

Musicals you Know you will Love ahead of Time

All musical theater fanatics will come across musicals in a certain. Here are some ways: film, stage, and songs. However, how do you know you love a musical before seeing it? I will try to explain below- only applies to stage shows. So musicals I fell in love by the movie or by a filmed stage production doesn’t count.

Newsies

This was the latest Disney musical I fell in love with. Yes, I only enjoyed the songs before seeing the stage show. Do you know what really made me know I will love Newsies? It was coming from the fact that Newsies won a Tony for best choreography. I was right about loving Newsies- the dance made me love the songs even more. Along with the relationship found between Jack/Crutchie and the entire Newsies relationship.

Pippin

Just to let you know, this musical almost didn’t enter my life. I first got interested in Pippin due to loving “Corner of the Sky”. When mom got tickets for Pippin, there was only one day left with seats together. Pippin was the final inexperience musical of 2015: when I mean inexperienced, it is referring to shows where you didn’t much about the musical ahead of time. It was seeing a preview where I knew I would love the musical even more. Another factor that played in this is based on the fact that it is a Stephen Schwartz musical- after all, Wicked sparked my love for musicals.

Godspell

When Godspell was playing at Central Piedmont Community College, my dad or family told me I would love it. That was based on my love for Stephen Schwartz. When it comes to CPCC, their shows feel professional. Godspell actually was the first musical I fell in love with during the college years.

Music Man

This musical started the 2015 musicals. It was the most light-hearted out of all them. I already heard some of the songs- from that alone, I knew I would love Music Man. I already knew some facts about the characters- in particular Harold Hill.

Anastasia

Yes, I am using a musical that I haven’t seen live. Anastasia was coming to Charlotte in April of this year, but got postponed. I already have a feeling I would love it due to already falling in love with five songs. I have no idea how I was able to figure out who was singing some of the songs: I know some facts about Anya and a little about Dimitri. So far, Anastasia hasn’t been rescheduled.

Conclusion

It is interesting how we know ahead of time that we love a musical. It can be based on composer, choreography, or already enjoying some songs from the show.

What about you, how do you know you will love a musical ahead of time?

CPCC- The In Between

After graduating from Fletcher, I did not want to go to Central Piedmont Community College. I really wanted to be at Gardner Webb- I knew I was meant to be there. However, I spent two years at community college, where there was actually some highlights.

Musicals

Godspell

Well, the very first musical I fell in love with during the college years was Godspell. CPCC did that production in my first semester- little did I know I would see some of those actors in future CPCC productions. What I remember about Godspell was some of the costumes: from hippie to a lady in a pink dress holding a star. My favorite song is “We Beseech Thee”. Godspell is one of two biblical musicals I love. I was recommended to watch Godspell because of my love for Stephen Schwartz.

Les Mis

Before Les Mis, I actually signed up to be an usher for CPCC. Due to that, I ended up seeing Les Mis three times (once with family and twice as an usher). I fell in love with Les Mis during my 1st year of college. CPCC did their production in November of 2013. Ryan Deal, my Valjean, was also Jesus in Godspell. Yes, this was a community college production, but I called it phenomenal. Halton Theater has both an orchestra and balcony- the orchestra is deep (I was sitting in row Q near the center when I saw Les Mis with my family). CPCC’S production of Les Mis was truly the motor for wanting to see the musical in London. Because of CPCC, I was able to start doing more in theater than just being in the audience.

For an extra credit assignment for my communication class, I ended up critiquing the actress, who played Eponine. That was because I really was still puzzled on why I love the character in the first place. Les Mis did start this pattern of seeing Les Mis every other year- each year was seen in different theaters (from Halton to Queen’s to Peace Center to Ovens). The reason why I saw the stage show six times was due to ushering.

Some Enchanted Evening

Once again, I was an usher. It is basically a concert that showcases songs from Rodgers and Hammerstein. My 2nd show I saw at Halton. This wouldn’t be the last time I saw some musical theatre production at CPCC. Those other musicals would happen after Gardner Webb.

Volunteering

I did end up volunteering. I was part of a service club, participated in Martin Luther King Day, and went on Alternative Spring Break. Martin Luther King Day means you literally show up at CPCC, and you are randomly assigned a service project- so you have to show up prepared for anything. Alternative Spring Break happened in Atlanta, Georgia: that was a mission trip. We did some things outside of volunteering: like visiting the Georgia Aquarium.

Classes

Why would I put down classes as one of the highlights? Well, there are some classes I am so glad I took at CPCC. My first round of history was one of them- I had to take my 2nd history class with Gardner Webb: their Western Civilization classes are much harder than CPCC’s. So at least I got one out of the way. I don’t know what made me take this class- psychology (that would eventually lead to taking Sociology at Gardner Webb).

In some ways, I learned more about acting in my Communications class: they did offer some extra credit assignments. One of which was to critique a sermon: I literally had to ask “can I critique an actor instead of a sermon”. Well, guess what- I did critique an actor: during Les Mis. The reason why I choose the actress, who played Eponine (Kayla Ferguson), was because I still could not quite understand why I even loved that character.

Musicals- the 2nd Round

Oklahoma

By this point, I already graduated from Gardner Webb. But, I still decided to see musicals at CPCC. After all, their musicals are always well-done. They combine students with professionals with the community. Oklahoma was a theater date with mom: we got seats in the balcony. Actors/actresses did move sets, which went smoothly. Two actors I had seen in Godspell were Laurey and Will Parker. People think Oklahoma is just about this dance social: but it actually is truly a love story between Curly and Laurey. Like any Rodgers and Hammerstein musical, there was a 2nd romance. Both of the couples were part of a love triangle. In addition, it is also about Oklahoma becoming a state.

Fun fact: Ashton Guthrie, who played Curly, would end up in another summer CPCC musical.

Grease

This time around, I went to see Grease with my sister and one of our friends. Once again, actors moved set pieces, which did flow smoothly. CPCC did get permission to use songs that were originally not part of the stage show. I just knew how different the stage show was when I heard the first song. There were a couple of new songs I never knew existed in Grease.

Newsies

Well, I had already seen Newsies by this point, but not with CPCC. I really wanted to see Newsies at CPCC, but as it got closer to when Newsies was playing at CPCC, It did feel like I wouldn’t see it. There was no sign of my parents getting tickets. When the last day of the production happened, I literally believed I wouldn’t be seeing the CPCC production.

However, things would come unexpected. One of my best friends from Gardner Webb just shown up at my house. I thought we were just going to go shopping. On the drive, she did ask what do you want to today: “I really wanted to see Newsies”. Guess what happened- the two of us ended up in the Will Call Line to pick up Newsies tickets. As a matter of fact, my friend hadn’t seen a stage show in years- so at intermission when the lights got on, she thought the show was over. I had to say, that is what happens at intermission: the lights go up.

Ashton Guthrie was Jack Kelly- I already saw him as Curly. Here is what I really loved about the casting of Crutchie: he was an actor of color. Jack and Crutchie are my favorite Newsies because of the intimate and deep bond those two have. The towers were still there, but had to be moved by actors/actresses: still flowed smoothly. While Joey Barreiro still remains my favorite Jack Kelly, Ashton was able to add a since of maturity in Jack. Jack is the Newsies leader so the mature nature I saw from Ashton worked for the character. I still felt innocence coming from the character- which did not show up until “Something to Believe In”. Like any CPCC musical, well-done. This was actually her graduation present to me: the best I had.

Due to seeing three CPCC productions over the summer, I was able to see five musicals in 2018: the other two were with Blumenthal.

Actors/Actresses Who have No Choice

What on earth do I mean by “actors/actresses who have no choice”. It basically means there are some actors and actresses that have no choice, as in being your favorite in a role. There is a reason behind this. Let me explain.

For starters, what if those actors are the only ones you saw in the role. That means they have no choice but to be your favorite. Actors like Emily Bautista, Anthony Festa, Eymard Cabling, Lisa Karlin, Sam Lips, etc all have my only ones in a particular role. For some time, you might only have one cast you saw. So those actors/actresses have no choice but to be your favorites.

Then the second behind this belongs if you only remember one cast. I may have four casts in Wicked, but there is only one main cast that I remember. That is part of why Mary Kate Morrissey, Amanda Jane Copper, and Ashley Parker Angel are doing as my favorite Elphaba, Glinda, and Fiyero.

There are some reasons why your favorite actor in a role is not always your first. That is when you just don’t remember them. So someone in the future ends up being your first. Who are some of my firsts I remember? You probably can tell if I started with the film or the stage show.

  1. Hugh Jackman- Valjean
  2. Russell Crowe- Javert
  3. Anne Hathaway- Fantine
  4. Amanda Seyfried- Cosette/Sophie
  5. Eddie Redmayne- Marius
  6. Samantha Barks- Eponine
  7. Aaron Tveit- Enjolras
  8. Helena Bonham Carter- Madame Thenardier
  9. Sacha Baron Cohen- Monsieur Thenardier
  10. Isabelle Allen- Young Cosette
  11. Daniel Huttlestone- Gavroche
  12. Joey Barreiro- Jack Kelly
  13. Andy Richardson- Crutchie
  14. The other Newsies- remember their dance more than the acting
  15. Emily Bautista- Kim
  16. Anthony Festa- Chris
  17. Eymard Cabling- The Engineer
  18. Lisa Karlin- Leading Player
  19. Sam Lips- Pippin
  20. Ryan Deal- actually got to see him twice: he was my first Jesus in Godspell and my 2nd Jean Valjean

However, not all of my first were my favorite. That wasn’t true for my first Javert, Jean Valjean, Cosette, Marius, and Madame and Monsieur Thenardier. Weird that I only know that not all Les Mis firsts were my favorite in a role. As for firsts, I 100% know that Samantha Barks, Joey Barreiro, Emily Bautista, Eymard Cabling, Anthony Festa, Amanda Seyfried (as Sophie), Lisa Karlin, Sam Lips, Isabelle Allen, and Daniel Huttllestone were all my favorites. Some were my only actors in those role and the fact that some of them have the advantage of being my first.

Musical fans, do you understand this concept: “actors have no choice to be my favorite actors in a role”?