A Common Century for Musicals

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?

Les Mis

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.

What are other 19th century musicals you love?

Heartbreaking Love Songs- Not Ironic?

This will be the complete opposite of yesterday’s post. Yes, there are ironic heartbreaking love songs, but at the same time, there are the ones that aren’t even ironic at all. Some characters are part of tragic couples and there are also characters whose stories revolve around unrequited love- their songs are the non-ironic heartbreaking ones. POSSIBLE SPOILERS


I could have chosen any of the West Side Story songs. Maria and Tony are part of a tragic couple, who are based off of Romeo and Juliet. Their songs get sadder and sadder as the story continues. Somewhere is the closest to the finale.

All I Ask of You (Reprise)

The Phantom is one of our characters whose stories revolve around unrequited love. However, in his case, he doesn’t take it very well. Doesn’t exactly accept the situation.

As Long as He Needs Me

Even though Bill Sikes is abusive, Nancy still continues to love him. Yes, she developed a strong affection to Oliver, which can make things difficult at times. This song is very heartbreaking.

On My Own

Whenever I think of unrequited love in musicals, I think of Eponine. She has such a strong love for Marius. It actually is her greatest strength, and the only good thing in her life. It was his kindness that led her to fall in love with him. People might wonder why does she continue to love him- well, without him, she would have no light in her life.

Musicals I hope to See- why?

Just like bookworms have their TBR list, you also have a TBW for musicals. That is specifically referring to musicals you hope to see in person. This time, I thought of writing out that TBW list, and say why.


I have been fascinated by this musical since it swept the Tonys. Ever since I heard it was based off a Greek Myth, I knew I just had to see this musical. I have always loved Greek Mythology- so that would come of no surprise I wanted to see this tragic love story. I have listened to like two to three songs. It is coming to Charlotte October of 2021- hopefully that is enough time for Blumenthal to open their doors up for musicals.


I will start by saying that I did see the stage show of Oliver back in 2007, but have no recollection of seeing. After reading the book and seeing the movie musical, I really want to see the stage show. I want an actual memory of seeing the stage show.

Beauty and the Beast

It is just one of two Disney musicals I still need to see in person. It is such a magical and romantic musical. I once thought I did see the stage show, but turns out that isn’t true. I somehow came across the stage songs- I think through Pandora. It hasn’t toured for a long time or even had a revival on Broadway.


I would have seen this musical if COVID never hit. I already had tickets to see Frozen this month, but not happening. I have loved the animated film since 2013. Right when I heard about the stage show, I knew I had to see the musical. I somehow heard some of the new songs- which I did fall in love with. If you think about it, it shares a number of parallels to Wicked. Of all contemporary princesses, I relate to Anna the most.

Something Rotten

I did fall in love with a few songs from this musical. That is basically what made me want to see it. It came to Charlotte before, but missed it. So now have to wait till that tours again. It actually takes place during one of my favorite time periods of history- The Renaissance.


There was a year (I think 2015) where I had to choose between Once and Pippin. I had seen the actual film, and did quite like those songs. Once is one of those musicals where you literally have to be a quadruple threat- that is because the actors are actually playing instruments on stage. So you have to know how to play an instrument, act, sing, and dance. I feel like seeing this musical would give a different kinda of nature to musicals- their songs are sort of different then what you think. My favorite song, as of now, is “Falling Slowly”.


Well- I would have tried to get tickets this year if the pandemic didn’t get in the way. Due to already falling in love with five songs, I knew I had to see this musical. Just by listening to songs such as “Journey to the Past”, “In a Crowd of Thousands”, “My Petersburg”, “In My Dreams”, and “Once Upon a December”, I was able to learn a little bit about Anya and Dimitri.


Why do you think this was one of the ones I said last? Well, I already saw Wicked four times, and due to that wasn’t too disappointed of the postponement of the musical this year. Wicked always tours to Charlotte- at Ovens Auditorium, the biggest Blumenthal theater. I know there is still a lot more to be found in the musical- that is so true for the love triangle. I overlook a lot of things in Wicked- except for the love triangle and friendship.

Les Mis

Like Wicked, I have seen this musical a lot. The stage show totals six times- crazily enough, saw it every other year. 2013, 2015, 2017, and 2019 were the years I saw it- 2013 was 3x times due to ushering twice for that production. Last year, my mom managed to keep a Les Mis secret- I found out I was seeing the musical in October, but my mom got the tickets in January. This was actually the 2nd date I saw Les Mis with my mom- she did take me to the West End show of Les Mis.

Les Mis is always one that list of TBW. It is such a powerful, epic, and emotional musical. The reaction the stage show gives me is incredible. I have always been an emotional wreck- well, not always. That response was built up over time. Massive Les Mis fans were probably understand why it keeps on being added back to that list.

What about you- what musicals keep on being on that list?

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.


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.


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.


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.


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?

My love for Charles Dickens

One of my favorite authors is Charles Dickens. My favorite book of his is “A Christmas Carol”. I was raised on the George C. Scott movie- that became a family tradition to watch the movie during the Holidays.

The vast majority of the classics I read are Charles Dickens. The ones below are David Copperfield, Oliver Twist, Hard Times, Nicholas Nickleby, Tale of Two Cities and Bleak House. I read all of them, but two- Hard Times and Bleak House (which I recently started).

Both Dickens and Hugo are so similar in their writings, but so different: both of them were authors of Romanticism, focused on the lowest rungs of society (from orphans to the poor to prostitutes to convicts- as examples). In addition, they wrote off of things they actually witnessed allowing their books to feel well “real”.

Let me talk about the Charles Dickens books I love:

A Christmas Carol

Obviously, this is my favorite Dickens story. Part had to do with the story being connected to my childhood. Crazily enough, I found a parallel between Sarge and Scrooge: the funny thing about that is that one is a protagonist and the other an antagonist. Sarge is the antagonist of Tale of The Cattail Forest- who is a bully because of his abusive and tragic past.

What I love about Christmas Carol are the characters- from Scrooge to Tiny Tim to the entire Cratchit family to Fred, etc. There are just so many to fall in love with. What I do love is that it ultimately shows the spirit of Christmas. It all started on Christmas Eve when Scrooge was visited by three spirits: Ghost of Christmas Past, Ghost of Christmas Present, and Ghost of Future Christmas. Through this, Scrooge learns why he became the way he is, the spirit of Christmas through the present ghost and what will happen if he doesn’t change his ways. There are just a lot of amazing things about this story.

Tale of Two Cities/Great Expectations/David Copperfield

I put these together because I could not figure out why I loved these books.

Tale of Two Cities

Tale of Two Cities takes place in London and Paris during the French Revolution. It is very easy to get mixed up with what city you are in. It even is difficult to figure out the plot. I almost feel as if I need to read this book again.

Great Expectations

As far as Great Expectations goes, I can say one reason why I loved it. I loved Pip, the protagonist. I really don’t know why: part might be because we are introduced to Pip as a child- and eventually as a young adult. I found lots of articles that say Pip is annoying, but in my eyes I don’t see him that way.

David Copperfield

David Copperfield is actually Charles’ Dickens favorite book he wrote. I don’t know why I loved this book.

As for as ALL three of these books go- sometimes you just know when you read a good book even if you don’t know why.

Oliver Twist

I first came across Oliver Twist by the musical. I first saw Oliver in Summer of 2007 at the Bartor Theater in Abingdon, VA. The annoying thing is that I have no memory of seeing it.

So, I eventually decided to read the book. I literally was grabbed by three pages. Oliver is such an incredible protagonist- he is so good and sweet that no one has the capability to corrupt him. You strongly saw that happen when Fagin and Bill Sikes were trying to turn him into a pickpocket. At first I didn’t know what to think of Nancy, but loved her at the end of her story- I fell in love with this character even more once I finally watched the musical movie. Weird how just an incredible book can start with a few words: “Please Sir, I Want some More”. All it took was for Oliver to say those few words that lead into such an incredible plot.

Nicholas Nickleby

Now, this is a book I strongly can say why I loved it. For one thing, you have an incredible protagonist: he is extremely compassionate and does have his flaws. Like usual the best characters tend to be flawed: Nicholas does have a temper- you mostly saw this unfold when he was trying to defend someone from being hurt. His relationship to Smike is incredible- Smike, despite being mistreated and abused, has a strong spirit. The moment Nicholas leaves the school, Smike literally follows. Smike asks Nicholas something around the lines of “wherever you go, I will”. From that moment on, you see this incredible friendship form: such an intimate and special bond. Nicholas is always with Smike- no matter what.

Originally I did not know what to think of Kate Nickleby. However, when I saw the RSC do a 9hr production of the story, I learned to like her. Don’t worry: I wasn’t watching the stage show for 9hrs in a row. It is split into four movies- so I watched one a day.

Along with Kate, there are a number of good guys- just right now, can’t think of the names.

There are a LOT of villains in this book: Ralph Nickleby, Squeers- and so on. For whatever reason, Ralph is always hating his nephew. For what- nothing made sense. I really loved Nicholas so why would his uncle hate him?

Bleak House

This is the main exception to those I love. Bleak House is the Dickens book I recently started. So, I have not formed an opinion on the story yet. I actually was surprised to learn that this story is more well-known than it appears. Bleak House centers on Esther. One of things I love about this book is the list of characters I saw in the front of the book. I already discovered that this book has two narrators: Esther and an unknown narrator. So far, the plot hasn’t exactly kicked off.

Character Names

Well, why do I mention this? Well, Charles Dickens really knows how to create amazing names of characters. From Oliver Twist to Artful Dodger to Nancy to Fagin to Bill Sikes to Smike to Nicholas Nickleby to Kate Nickleby to Scrooge to Tiny Tim to Esther to Ada to Pip to David Copperfield- that list continues. There is just something about the character names that make you remember them- including who they are.