As musical theatre fans know, certain countries and locations are popular with musicals. Many musicals take place in US- a popular setting is in NYC in different parts during various time periods. So, what musicals do I either love or like that take place in NYC?
West Side Story
This modernized “Romeo and Juliet” musical is one I have mixed feelings on. It isn’t like I don’t like the musical. I feel like it is in between liking and loving- does that make sense? It is driven through dance. Instead of feuding families, we know have feuding gangs. Instead of Verona, we are now in NYC. Our two central characters are Tony and Maria- in my opinion, Tony is the more dominant. “Somewhere” is my favorite song from this tragic musical.
Now, we are in a musical that is on the East Side of NYC. This takes place during the HIV/AIDS epidemic. Based on the tragic opera, La Bohème, we see the bohemian lifestyle through struggling artists. There are three couples found in Rent, with the main one being on Roger and Mimi. The friends are basically like family- Roger, Mimi, Mark, Joanne, Maureen, Collins, and Angel have an incredible friendship. The musical does have an incredible message of how to live life- in love and in the moment. “Seasons of Love” is my favorite song.
The Disney musical that takes place in Manhattan- it centers on the Newsboy Strikes of 1899. The Newsies have a tough life, but their friendship is a brotherly bond that feels like family. Their leader is Jack Kelly. The Newsies go on strike due to Pultizer raising the price of papers- a decision that will make their jobs harder. This musical has exciting and emotional songs, an inspiring story and mind-blowing dance. “Seize the Day” is my favorite song.
I went with this one last because it is a childhood musical. Annie was my favorite musical back in elementary school. Taking place during The Great Depression, it is about Annie’s time spent at Daddy Warbuck’s mansion over the Holidays. She has this incredible optimism and spirit, as seen through “Tomorrow”, my favorite song from the show.
Today is October 31st, which is the same day as Halloween. My favorite thing about that day is dressing up. There have been days where I have dressed up prior to Halloween- as in something I would do prior- like something we could do at work and/or at a Halloween event at university. So, what are some of the characters I have been over the years (most notably the ones I made)?
This was the most recent Halloween costume I put together. I got the idea after seeing the hat- it reminded me of a Newsie hat. I knew we could wear a costume for work for the week leading to Halloween. Most the pieces were easy to find, but the jacket was the hardest- good thing a church member decided to make it. Newsies is the most recent Disney musical I fell in love with, a love that started August 2016.
I was her in 2017 and 2021- I actually dressed as this Grease character more than once. Since the homecoming theme was Broadway in 2017, my club went with Grease, and I choose Rizzo. Homecoming, Octoberfest, and eventually at work. I had more fun dressing up as her than I thought- after all, I barely know the character.
Originally dressing as Eponine for a Les Mis party, I had no idea I would eventually choose the same character for Halloween that same year. Unlike Rizzo, Eponine is a meaningful character, who is from a meaningful musical. Plus, she is a character I know very well- I feel like my love for Elphaba might explain where my bond for Eponine might have come from (if you think about it, they are in some ways parallel characters)
Glinda- Winter Formal 2017
True, I wasn’t this meaningful character for Halloween, but I still dressed as her. That was a result of seeing a pink dress in my room on Campus. Reminded me of the “Popular” costume- my suitemates decided to make me look like Glinda in that scene.
In the world of musical theatre, you come across a variety of characters. That is due to the time period they are from, where they live, their fates, the families they are born into, and what they make of their lives, etc…………..In my opinion, which characters are “different”?
He is one of my top two favorite Newsies. He may have a bum leg, but at least he has a special and intimate bond with Jack Kelly. This is first noticed during “Santa Fe (Prologue)”. Both of them sleep on the same rooftop. Despite Crutchie’s bum leg, that doesn’t stop him from making the most of his situation. He is still an incredible Newsie, and extremely optimistic, no matter the situation, despite being the most vulnerable of all the Newsies. That is why the added song, “Letter From the Refuge”, is very important, and why I wish I could own it. Even in that number, despite the level of vulnerability he has in that moment, he still is optimistic about the strike (as in that the Newsies will win the strike).
She isn’t even disabled and is considered different. Only because she was born green. As a result, she was born in the wrong family. So, she was treated like an outcast in her own family. Nothing good was happening in her life until Shiz University—–she would meet two people who would transform her life- especially with Glinda. True, Glinda and Elphaba started out hating each other, but at least they eventually became best friends and developed a powerful and beautiful bond
“Because I knew you, I have been changed for good”
For Good, Wicked
Glinda is actually the first person in Elphaba’s life who sees her for who she is. Most people can’t see past the color of her skin, but Glinda can. Another thing that makes her different are her powers, which she doesn’t know to control (at the moment, they happen in anger). Elphaba truly is a big-hearted, determined, brave, and strong person—-Elphaba truly matures during “Defying Gravity”. Not the “wicked” witch people think she is. The rumors spread about Elphaba do make Glinda feel bad and hurt- she knows they are lies.
Fiyero is the only other person who treats Elphaba fairly, and sees her for who she is—-that is starting at the Lion Cub Scene——-Elphaba, Fiyero, and Glinda create one of the strongest and most complex love triangles. Fiyero ALWAYS had stronger chemistry with Elphaba and always had a crush on her (which is first noticed during that particular scene), which helps foreshadow the plot twist in act II. Yes, Elphaba puts up with the pain of unrequited love, but little does she know that she will get Fiyero in the end (the irony of “I’m Not That Girl” and “As Long as You’re Mine”).
A very similar character to Elphaba is Elsa. Both born with powers they don’t know to control- Elsa’s powers happen a lot in fear. She has ice and snow powers, but after an accident in her childhood almost killing Anna, she begins to be afraid of her skill. But just like Elphaba, she was labeled to be a monster when she was older- after her coronation during the party. Ashamed, she ran away causing an eternal Winter. During “Let it Go”, she finally accepts herself for who she is—–it is actually similar to “Defying Gravity” (in both melody and what they are about)
At least, her sister saw past the monster side of her. Anna could see she wasn’t a monster- she knew Elsa could save Arendelle. All they really have left is each other- after all, they became orphans after they parents died at sea. Eventually, Kristoff, Olaf, and Sven became part of their family—–only because they joined Anna on her journey to find Elsa. As a matter of fact, I believe excellent Elsa actresses could play excellent Elphabas’ and vice versa (my Elsa was Caroline Bowman, and she was a former Elphaba)
The Rent Family
Yes, there are eight major characters- but specifically want to refer to four of them. Those belong to Roger, Mimi, Collins, and Angel. True, just about ALL the characters are “different”, but those four are the ones struggling with HIV/AIDS. I am able to connect to them on a personal level due to my Epilepsy- you might wonder, why? Well, anyone dealing with any mental disorders, neurological issues, or chronic illnesses will understand what they are going through.
After all, when we deal with them, similar emotions are felt. Uncertainty, stress, and anxiety are just a few of the emotions those four characters are dealing with- doesn’t that sound familiar? Despite being different illnesses and disorders, we still can understand the struggle. That is exactly why those four characters are “different”.
There are many amazing things about the world of musicals. It is pretty incredible to think about where and the time period they take place. It seems that a LOT of them take place in the 19th century, which are the 1800s——the same period many of the favorite classic books were written in. So, what are some of my favorite 19th century musicals?
This takes place in the early 1800s- from 1815-1832. To describe the story of this musical is not easy- meaning it is quite a complex story. It is about Jean Valjean’s journey to redemption after being released from prison——that starts after being shown mercy by the compassionate bishop. It is also about the love triangle between Marius, Cosette, and Eponine. It is also about the uprising the Friends of the ABC are planning and going to fight in—-aka The June Rebellion of 1832.
A musical with a complex plot and complex characters and epic, passionate, powerful and highly emotional songs. It is based on Victor Hugo’s 1862 novel, Les Misérables (the longest book I read and finished)
Now we are on a musical based on Charles Dickens, Oliver Twist. I have to attempt I saw the stage show, but don’t remember (seen in 2007). At least, I eventually saw the movie musical—-watched it after finally reading the book. Crazy how such an amazing story starts after a few words—-“Please Sir, I Want some More”. Filled with exciting and emotional songs
Phantom of the Opera
This centers on a mysterious and angelic love triangle between The Phantom, Christine, and Raoul. Taking place in late 19th century at The Paris Opera House. Such a hauntingly beautiful musical. Even though The Phantom responds poorly to the unrequited love, he still makes the love triangle quite mysterious in many ways. Raoul and Christine are one of the most beautiful and adorable couples in musicals, thanks to the very romantic “All I Ask of You”
The Disney musical based on The Newsboy Strike of 1899- started after Pulitzer raised the price of papers. Such an inspiring story that happens at the turn of the century! The Newsies relationship is similar to the relationship found between The Friends of the ABC in Les Mis—-both have a brotherly bond that feels like family with a leader and both have a cause they strongly believe in. Jack Kelly, their leader, cares more about his brothers than the strike, especially when it comes to Crutchie due to an intimate and special bond. Filled with mind-blowing dance, emotional and exciting songs, and amazing characters.
There is a good chance everyone has seen at least one musical. That is a result of Disney being well-known for musicals. They tend to eventually become stage shows, and usually the musical improves once that happens due to the additional songs, which expands the story a lot more, which results in characters being more complex. So, what are the Disney musicals I saw live?
This was the most recent musical I saw- June 22, 2022. My main disappointment was the cut of “True Love”, which was an added song to the Original Broadway Show- that is a heartbreaking song meant for Anna. But, they cut it when the tour began. One of the biggest mistakes ever- Anna is the sister I relate to the most. Favorite song- either “For the First Time in Forever” or “Let it Go”
The stage show is so much better than the movie. The added songs develop the characters even further- especially with Elsa. That is what songs such as “Dangerous to Dream” and “Monster” do. However, even Anna is developed further- that is what I love about “What do You Know About Love”—which also further develops Kristoff. At first, I thought I would dislike “I Can’t Lose You” in the show because I didn’t know how Elsa would learn about the Eternal Winter, but at least that happened in a scene after. I love how Kristoff is developed further as well—-“Kristoff Lullaby” is when you first realize his feelings for Anna, which is an emotional song.
The way they showed Elsa’s powers was amazing- so magical. Amazing cast, which is always true for touring casts for musicals. I heard that Sven almost didn’t make it to the stage show- glad that he did because if not, I feel like we would only have 3/4 of who Kristoff is.
Aladdin- 9/11, 2019
At first, I thought it was kinda of strange to see a musical on 9/11, but it actually works. At least I did something fun on a day we remember a tragedy. If you think about it, a Disney musical would work.
Aladdin is one of the classic Disney musicals, but became a stage show later than it probably should have. Especially considering it was a classic Disney movie. My favorite song from Aladdin is “A Whole New World”. There is one character in this musical that is hard not to love- The Genie.
Just like any Disney stage show, it does improve. True, Abu wasn’t able to make it to stage, but Omar, Babak, and Kassim were good substitutes- a result of amazing dance numbers, and being good friends to Aladdin. “Proud of Your Boy” was an amazing addition to Aladdin- that song made me a little emotional when I saw the stage show. Even Jasmine got stronger with “These Palace Walls”. Glad their romance sort of started sooner- thanks to “A Million Miles Away”
Lion King- September 4th, 2018
Yes, this was my 2nd time seeing the stage show, but I don’t remember my 1st visit. I actually got the best seats- in the orchestra at the aisle (best seats for “Circle of Life”).
As a matter of fact, Lion King is worth going for the costumes alone. The songs are incredible in many ways- my favorite song is “Can You Feel the Love Tonight”. Even the stage show is better than the original animated classic film. Just about all of the characters are more complex- particularly Simba, Nala, Mufasa, and Scar. Always helps when you have additional songs- such as “Endless Night” for Simba, “Shadowland” for Nala, “They Live in You” for Mufasa”, and certain songs for Scar- don’t want to say them for my hatred towards him.
Newsies- July 2018 and August 2016
Of ALL Disney musicals, this is the only one I saw twice (yes, I said I saw Lion King twice, but doesn’t count, as I have one memory). I saw Newsies BOTH at community college and Belk Theater (aka Blumenthal’s main theater). Newsies was a box office flop, but turned into a cult favorite——-eventually leading to the stage show.
Wouldn’t have known about Newsies if it wasn’t for the stage show. Newsies is actually based on an actual event- The Newsboy Strike of 1899. When Pultizer raised the price of papers, the Newsies went on strike- the new price would make it harder on them. The Newsies actually remind me of The Friends of the ABC from Les Mis (both have a strong brotherly bond that feel like family and have a cause they strongly believe and have a leader)
One of the BEST parts about Newsies is the dance alone, which is mind-blowing. That is part of why “Seize the Day” is my favorite song from the musical. The stage show is SO much better than the 1992 movie. Katherine Plumber is a better reporter and a stronger love interest for Jack Kelly. Plus, she at least gives a strong female voice in a cast of boys. Even some of the prior songs have improved- I noticed there is a difference in lyrics. I love the addition of “Letter From the Refuge”, a solo meant for Crutchie
There is still one Disney musical I still strongly hope to see- that would be Beauty and the Beast. Belle is actually the classic Disney princess I relate to the most. I feel like it hasn’t toured for years in the US- it needs to come back.