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)

Oliver

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”

Newsies

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?

French Shows I Love

Just yesterday was Bastille Day, which is France’s Independence Day. France is actually an amazing location for fiction- it is where some of my favorite shows take place. So, what are my favorite French shows?

La Bohème

If it wasn’t for Rent, there is no way I would have seen this tragic opera. It centers on the two lovers, Rudolfo and Mimi during 19th century France. While they are the main couple, we have a 2nd couple- Marcello and Musetta, who help lighten up the tragedy ever once in a while. While Rudolfo and Mimi have a tragic relationship, at least we know they truly love each other. Or when the characters are having fun- due to their bohemian lifestyle. There is just something about Puccini that draws you in. La Bohème is my favorite opera

I first saw the musical as a live stream in Cinemas back in 2016. Than soon enough saw it in person in 2020.

Phantom of the Opera

This is actually my favorite Andrew Lloyd Webber musical. Another show taking place in 19th century France—-this time late century. Centering on a haunting and angelic love triangle. It is found between the mysterious Phantom, and the adorable couple of Raoul and Christine. The musical is so beautiful, in many ways. The costumes are beautiful and so is the set. Spellbouding and can drive you to tears

I saw Phantom of the Opera at the beautiful Peace Center May of 2014. I was spellbound the moment the show started, and didn’t move until the chandelier fell

Les Mis

Where to start? Of all musicals, this was most expected due to a massive love—-another show taking place in 19th century France. This time, we are starting in 1815 and ending in 1832. To fall in love with Les Mis, I had to give the musical film a 2nd chance, and the rest is history.

There is SO much I love about this musical. The complex plot, the complex characters, and the epic, passionate, powerful, and highly emotional songs. It is so hard to even choose a favorite song from this musical. The musical that disproved a number of things about musicals- 1) tragic musicals exist, 2) death is memorable and can happen during song, 3) heartbreak is a musical emotion

Les Mis is about Jean Valjean’s journey on becoming a better person. He is an ex-convcit, who life was changed after encountering the compassionate bishop, who taught him the ways of the Lord. What the bishop taught him would drive the rest of his actions. 1) the compassion towards Fantine, 2)t the adoption of Cosette, 3) mercy and forgiveness towards Javert, etc……

In addition, it is also about the love triangle of Marius, Eponine, and Cosette——I actually love this love triangle, and all three characters (Marius actually is my favorite survivor and now is almost a core favorite character). It is also about the uprising that is formed through the Friends of the ABC. All of the storylines are so strongly connected, that if you get rid of one tiny thing, the entire story starts unraveling itself.

In total, I have seen the stage show six times- that is in 3 cities and 4 theaters. The cities were Charlotte, London, and Greenville. The theaters were Halton- CPCC (this gets 3x due to once with family and twice as usher), Queen’s, Peace Center, and Ovens Auditorium- Blumenthal. As a matter of fact, I had some pretty special Les Mis dates- like my mom and I in London or being with my University in Greenville.

Beauty and the Beast

I ended on Beauty and the Beast because it was the ONLY French show I love that I still haven’t seen live. All I have seen of it were the two films- animated and live action. Of all classic Disney princesses, I relate to Belle the most. I am both a bookworm and unique. A collection of exciting, romantic, and emotional songs. My favorite song is “Beauty and the Beast”—-such an enchanting and magical moment that it can easily drive you to tears.

A musical that truly shows that “beauty comes from within”. The Beast may look like a beast, but he is beautiful on the inside. Gaston may look handsome on the outside, but is. truly a beast on the inside

As a matter of fact, this is the first French show I fell in love with. But it took me way too long to figure out it took place in France. Don’t know why it took me longer than it should have- despite obvious clues. Character names and some words characters say- Lumiere literally singing “This is France” in the fun song, “Be Our Guest”, and the word “Bonjour” was sung in the opening number, “Belle”.

Conclusion

As different as all these shows may seem, they still share some things in common. Just like with any show, you need to have an emotional connection- the reason why you want to feel the emotions. Plus, I love the songs in all of them along with the plot and characters.

Favorite Andrew Lloyd Webber Musical

Another famous composer in musical theatre is Andrew Lloyd Webber. At the moment, I only fell in love with two of his musicals, which are Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat and Phantom of the Opera. True, I saw Cats before, but I forgot what my opinion was, but I do love some of its songs. So, what is my favorite musical of his?

Phantom of the Opera

It was actually my mom who recommended this musical to me, and I fell in love with it initially by the songs. As a matter of fact, I even have some unpopular opinions in the musical. Why do I love Phantom of the Opera? It is such a hauntingly beautiful show. So mysterious and angelic. I actually love Christine and Raoul as characters and as a couple- they are so adorable and romantic together, as expressed in “All I Ask of You”. I want Phantom with the unrequited love- he may respond very very poorly to it, but it makes the love triangle very mysterious, and it is an unique fact about it.

Favorite Love Triangles in the Musical Theatre World

Romance does show up in two forms in musicals. Either they show up through an individual couple or happen by a love triangle. A love triangle forms when three people are involved—-so someone gets unrequited love, a heartbreaking situation to end up in. Some of those love triangles are weak whiles others are strong. So, what are some of my favorite love triangles?

MAJOR SPOILERS

Phantom-Christine-Raoul

This love triangle in found in the musical, Phantom of the Opera. It actually is the prime focus of the musical. Christine and Raoul are the couple while The Phantom has the unrequited love. The Phantom responds poorly to unrequited love- acts in revenge and doesn’t accept it. At least Raoul treats Christine better- they deserve to be together.

It is a mysterious and angelic love triangle. “All I Ask of You” is one of the most beautiful love songs in musical theatre.

Eponine-Marius-Cosette

This trio is found in Les Misérables, and one of my favorite subplots. Marius and Cosette are such an adorable couple and bring hope to the story—-by the way, Marius is actually my favorite survivor in Les Mis. Cosette is supposed to represent hope and light, and Marius is kind, compassionate, and loving. By the way, he is a good friend to Eponine and is worried about (I think that was why he sent her away from the barricade and why he asked why she came back).

Eponine is meant to have the unrequited love, and Marius is the light of her life. She has one of the BEST stories of unrequited love in musical theatre. The way she responds to it is incredible- she accepts it, and risks her life several times for Marius. That explains why she even goes to the barricades- to make sure he is safe- she doesn’t mind sacrificing her life her him. True, her death is heartbreaking in more ways than one- first she is dying and he is devastated, but at least she is happy due to being in the arms of Marius (“A Little Fall of Rain” is such a touching and moving scene).

Elphaba-Fiyero-Glinda

These three make up my favorite love triangle, which is found in Wicked. First, it is the first one I emotionally bonded to—meaning I first became aware of the concept due to it. Second- my favorite musical theatre character is a part of it. Third- the level of complexity it is. Of ALL love triangles in musical theatre I have come across, Wicked has the most complex one.

Explain the unrequited love situation——-not easy to do. Elphaba originally has unrequited love for Fiyero (“I’m Not That Girl”). But there were clues prior to the scene that maybe Fiyero has a crush on her- look carefully at the Lion Cub Scene and the scenes that follow “I’m Not That Girl”. This love triangle seems to develop in the same way the characters do- the love triangle truly matures when the characters do. In act II, there is an unrequited love switch- now Glinda is dealing with it (“I’m Not That Girl (Reprise)”).

In my opinion, the love triangle strengthens the friendship between Elphaba and Glinda. How far will they go to keep friendship alive. Look how they BOTH responded to unrequited love—–they didn’t try to steal Fiyero away. So they wouldn’t let a boy get in between them. So, it really tests their loyalty if you think about it.

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

Somewhere

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.