Who is Elphaba?

In this series, I am now at Elphaba. Elphaba is my all-time favorite musical character. She is one of the two main protagonists in Wicked. She is this excellent and complex young woman.

Despite being born different, that does not stop her from being herself. However, complications come from that. It causes her father to hate her and he blames her for her sister’s disability and her mother’s death. So she has been treated like an outcast her whole life. She does not let that stop her. She goes to college with innocence and full of hope, but she finds out that even there she is still judged for being green. She got stuck with being roommates with Galinda (Glinda later) and they do not like each other.

Elphaba already has magical powers, but she has no idea how to control them. There have been incidents at school where her powers go out of control. The first is when they arrive: when Nessa is taken away and the second incident is when she sets a spell during class.

At a school dance, Elphaba arrives and does this silly dance type of thing. Galinda actually decides to join, and she actually creates something magical out of that. For once, Elphaba finally feels accepted. The two girls have bonded over a school dance. In the next scene, they realize that they could be potential friends. You learn how caring Elphaba is in more than one way: the moment when Doctor Dillamond sees the frightening message on the chalkboard and when Elphaba sees the scared Lion cub in the cage. You see that she really does have a big-heart- she does understand what it is like  to be different.

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On a side note- a love triangle happens between Elphaba, Glinda, and Fiyero. You notice this when Fiyero and Elphaba help free that lion cub. Elphaba and Fiyero have this playful conversation and it is this moment that Elphaba realizes her feelings for Fiyero. Based on the way that Elphaba responded to the unrequited love shows just how loyal she is to her best friend: she chooses not to steal Fiyero away or pursue him to keep friendship alive.

Elphaba takes a separate path when she realizes just how not so great the Wizard is. Throughout act I, she is such an innocent young girl. Now she has truly matured. She has always stayed true to herself, and that is very important to her. Equality is important to Elphaba as well and believes in equality for all including animals. She does not let the label of “Wicked” define her. Even though Fiyero didn’t love her in act I, she realized that he does love her her in act II. You show just how mature their love for each other is. You see their love for each throughout different scenes after “As Long As Your’e Mine”. Fiyero stops the guards from arresting Elphaba. Elphaba takes matters into her own hands and tries spell after spell after spell to save him and feels like she failed. Each time she does good, everyone calls it Wicked. When she saved Boq’s life when it accidentally started shrinking due to Nessa, she had no choice but to turn him to tin, Boq started hating Elphaba. In “No Good Deed”, she is hurt, frustrated, and angry, and she truly feels Wicked, but it doesn’t mean she is a bad person.

She does have one final moment with Glinda. The two are able to express their love for each other in “For Good”. They have impacted each other’s lives. Glinda has been Elphaba’s only friend. Glinda will always be a piece of Elphaba. Elphaba is this smart, determined, a bit impulsive, different, big-hearted, misunderstood, courageous, young woman who believes in equality and staying true to yourself. Just because people have called her  “wicked” does not make her one. I see a lot of myself in her, and that is a huge reason why she is my favorite musical character. Elphaba is also a big reason why I love Wicked so much.

Who is Jean Valjean?

Jean Valjean is the protagonist of the musical, Les Misérables. He is one of the most complex protagonists in musical theatre who goes on quite a journey from the beginning of the musical to the end.

Jean Valjean is an ex-convict who stole a loaf of bread to feed his family, which put him to prison for 5 years, but for trying to escape 14 more years. So for a minor crime, he was imprisoned for 19 years. He entered prison as a good man, but being in prison hardened him, and he left prison full of hate and anger. Jean Valjean is known for his physical strength.

Once he realized how unfairly society treats him, his soul fills up with even more anger and hates society even more. But he is given kindness by the bishop. Despite being given food and shelter, Valjean still steals from him. But the bishop forgives him and says all the silver was a gift.

So due to the mercy given by the bishop, Valjean realizes that he can change. He starts to treat people with compassion. He opens up a factory and shows compassion to the poor. So Valjean’s transformation begins to show. Valjean’s journey is a spiritual one. Valjean ends up helping Fantine, one of his former factory workers, Fantine, who has unjustly been fired from his factory. She had to turn to prostitution to provide for her daughter. Valjean prevents her from being arrested and sends her to the hospital. Valjean even turns himself in when an innocent man is believed to be “Valjean”. In an act of compassion, Valjean actually agrees to care for Fantine’s daughter, Cosette. So Valjean continues to act by the example set by the bishop.

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Cosette is the first person Valjean loved after being released. He feels like a true father to Cosette. Cosette was a broken child before. Valjean knows that caring for Cosette will be dangerous due to being an ex-convict, but he keeps to his word. Yes, he over-protects and shelters her, but I do not blame him in the danger of being sent back to prison. His love for Cosette makes him a kinder and better person. His love for Cosette is shown in different ways. He goes as far as rescuing Marius, who Cosette loves, from the barricades to show his love for his adopted daughter. This act of sacrifice shows that Valjean has some kind of courage. He may not tell Cosette about his past, but he is an incredible father. He saves Marius from being killed at the barricades.

He does shows the importance of forgiving our enemies. In one scene, he forgives Javert. In that scene, he was supposed to kill Javert, but instead lets Javert go and shows Javert forgiveness and mercy. This happened at the barricades.

In the end, even though Valjean dies, he dies with Cosette and Marius, his now son-in-law, by his side. Jean Valjean is an incredible character. He starts out as this harsh, angry, and hateful man and turns into this compassionate, loving, and caring man. Becoming a father to Cosette was such an important to his journey. One word for his journey: redemption. Valjean’s journey is a huge reason why I love Les Misérables.

Who is Maria (Sound of Music)?

This is Maria from Sound of Music. She is one of the earliest musical theatre characters I was introduced to. When you first meet Maria, you realize that she is strongly connected to nature and that she loves to sing. You also learn that she is training to be a nun. But things do not come as planned. Maria is not a very good trainee and mother abbess think it is a good idea for Maria to become governess to this Captain’s seven children. Well Maria does not like this idea one bit.

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However, Maria decides to become the governess even though she would rather not. She comes to the house and realizes that in fact the Captain is in fact strict. She does not follow his rules, and decides to go by how she thinks a governess should be. The children do not warm up to her right away. The children always have played tricks on their governesses and do those tricks on Maria. As time goes by, the children warm up to her as they get to know her. They love her more once she teaches them to sing bringing more happiness into their life. Maria is very gentle and loving around the house. The Captain gets angry at her a couple of time and at one point almost sends her back to the abbey, but ultimately doesn’t after hearing his children sing and finds happiness and music back in his house.

So Maria a kind-hearted, gentle and loving woman.

Who is Eponine?

Back to Les Mis: One of my all-time favorite musical characters is Eponine. She is an interesting character in many ways.

Major Spoilers:

She is the daughter of Monsieur and Madame Thenardier, who appear to love her as a child. However, as a child, you already get an idea of the environment she is going to be growing up in. You see that they are abusive through how they treat Young Cosette and you see them pickpocket their customers so you already get an idea.

Later, Eponine’s life becomes even worse. She is now living in extreme poverty and is more involved in her parent’s schemes. You see just how alone she is in life. She hasn’t been shown much kindness. She is streetwise due to the crimes she has committed with her family. She is so alone in life and you realize that her parents do not love her and just use her for their advantage.  Despite all of this, she still has a spark of goodness in her, and you see this through her love for Marius.

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Eponine can see the kindness in Marius, and that shows that she still has a spark of goodness in her. All because of the kindness he shows her, she falls in love with him. He is all she has in life, and he bring her joy. The sad truth is he does not realize she loves him, and he later falls in love with Cosette. However, none of that stops her from being in love with him. Her love for him is extremely deep and strong that she will do anything for him. She agrees to find Cosette for him even though it breaks her. She stands up to her father when he is about to rob Valjean’s house and that is done out of love for Marius.

She risks her life several times for Marius even if it breaks her even if it means losing him forever. She makes the choice to go to the barricade. Her love for Marius leads her to sacrifice her life for him when he is about to get shot. Her love for Marius is her greatest strength even if it leads to her death. Her death is the happiest moment of her life because Marius is there for her in that moment holding her and comforting her despite all the pain. Even though she is a Thenardier, she still has that spark of that goodness found within her.

Characteristics I Look For in a Musical Character

There are a wide range of characters that I love in musical theatre. But what are things I tend to look for in a musical character. What makes those characters become favorites. Below is a list of characteristics that I tend to want from a musical character.

  1. Optimistic
  2. Courageous
  3. Relatability/ Emotional connection
  4. Complexity
  5. Loving
  6. Loyal

It seems to me that a good chunk of musical characters that I love tend to be courageous or optimistic. Courageous characters I love include Elphaba, Eponine, Enjolras, Gavroche, the other students of the Friends of the ABC, Belle, and all the Newsies. That is sure a lot of brave characters and from that list, only Elphaba  has been part of my life for quite a long time, which traces back to 2006. My love for those Les Mis characters traces back to 2013 and the Newsies traces back to 2016. Belle does trace back to my childhood, but I had to rediscover her recently since I nearly forgot that I even loved Beauty and the Beast.

Whenever I think of optimistic characters, I always tend to think of Annie first. She may be simple, but still memorable. The students in Les Mis, Young Cosette and the Newsies are hopeful characters.

One important characteristic of musical characters is whether or not you can relate to them or not. But there are some characters I love that I cannot even relate to that well. I can easily relate to Annie, Elphaba, and Belle. I can emotionally connect to characters that I don’t even relate to, which include an amazing set of Les Mis characters, the Newsies, Fiyero, etc. Having those two types of traits makes you care about the characters and makes you want to feel their emotions.

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There are both simple and complex musical characters. Out of both sets, I tend to prefer complex characters. Complex characters that I love are Elphaba, Glinda, Fiyero, Eponine, Jean Valjean, Jack Kelly, and the Beast and they feel more real than the simple characters. These are the kind of characters that are more likely to express the negative emotions through song, which is due to the fact that they tend to have a higher amount of conflict. They tend to be easier to care about. Complexity is a huge part of why I prefer complex characters, but I do love simple characters. My favorite musical character is Elphaba and she is complex, and Wicked was the musical where I started to understand the emotional side and complexity of musicals.

What about the loving characters? Those characters are incredible characters as well. They tend to put others needs before their own. They tend to care about the needs of others and have a big-heart found within them. Loving characters that I love are Elphaba, Eponine, Fantine, Jean Valjean, and Belle. It is crazy not being able to name many loving characters at this moment because so many musicals have characters fall in love.

Even loyalty is an incredible musical character trait to have. Whenever I think of loyal characters, my first thought is Eponine. She stays loyal to Marius despite the love being unrequited. She chooses to be loyal to him instead of her parents. She constantly puts aside her happiness and continues to love him and assist him in anyway she can. Sometimes I feel like loyalty and loving somehow really belong together.

Are there other characteristics that make a musical character wonderful?