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.
A musical that has been in life for ten years is Rent which I fell in love with September 2012. At first, I only knew the songs alone, not the plot or characters. The show only began to be meaningful, but it started to be a lot more meaningful when I saw the 2008 Broadway Final Cast Film. I wasn’t able to see to the stage show until 2017.
Favorite Song: Seasons of Love
Why is Rent Meaningful?
For starters, it is has to do with the message of love and how to live life. “No Day But Today” is the motto of Rent.
Another way it is meaningful is that I can relate to the characters. True, some of the characters have HIV/ AIDS, but I have Epilepsy which produces some of the same emotions – like uncertainty, anxiety, stress, etc…..
As a matter of fact, Rent was the musical that got me interested me in opera, especially in La Bohème. That is the opera Rent was based off of, and that is my favorite opera.
Rent is one of the musicals that makes me an emotional wreck – next in line from Les Mis.
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”.
I just found out that June is Pride Month, which is referring to the LGBTQ community. True, ROMANCE is a common theme found in fictional literature (also common in other media like operas and musicals). So, what are some LGBTQ fictional couples am I aware of?
As many know, it is hard for me to spot romance in literature. However, it is easier to spot it either on screen or on stage—–a result of seeing the action. The advantage of musicals and operas comes from love songs- those songs help you realize when two characters have fallen in love. So, unfortunately I will not able to name many of these unique couples. However, I can name two——the ones from Rent.
Angel and Collins
They are one of the sweetest couples found in musical theatre. They may both have HIV, but they truly make the most of their relationship. Even when Angel develops AIDS, Collins is still there for him. The song, “I’ll Cover You”, really shows just how amazing their relationship is——they are the only couple in Rent who don’t fight, and truly live in the moment no matter what. Even during “Without You”, you strongly see their love—-that is when you really see Collins caring for Angel. Angel is just the sweetest and most compassionate person of all the friends- he really kept them together (look at their struggle after he died- that is how you can realize he was the glue holding them together).
Maureen and Joanne
I call them the most problematic couple in Rent. Mainly because of Maureen- she may be crazy, but she still has a sweet spot. It feels like they just can’t stop fighting (Maureen can really annoy Joanne at times due to constantly flirting on other guys). Just look at “Tango Maureen”- when Mark and Joanne are talking about their dating troubles with Maureen (after all, Mark is Maureen’s ex-boyfriend, so he can relate). Than look at “Take Me or Leave Me”- a love song between Maureen and Joanne, but they are still fighting in that number.
However, at least Maureen still her sweet side at times- she isn’t 100% crazy- maybe more like 75%. Look how she treats Mimi when she was in danger of dying- she is sweet with her then. Plus Joanne isn’t 100% annoyed with her- she can stand her at times. At least there are moments they can handle each other- it is just Maureen can be hard to deal with at times.
Outside of the ROMANCE in musicals, it seems that the 2nd most common type of love is friendship. Those friendships vary in different ways- the ones that feel like family, the ones that have an intimate and strong bond, and some of them actually are unpopular opinions. POSSIBLE SPOILERS.
The Rent Gang
I only just discovered this group of friends about 9 and 1/2 years ago. They are one of the groups that feel like family. True, they have their arguments at times, but at least they make up. They have their struggles because part of the group has HIV/AIDS- as in four of them. They actually live their lives in love and in the moment—–NO DAY BUT TODAY.
Mark and Roger are best friends, who live together.
This is yet another group of friends that feels like family. They share a brotherly bond that is tight-knit. They have a cause (the strike) they strongly believe in and never give up. Jack Kelly is their leader.
Found within this group of brothers is yet another friendship——the intimate and special bond between Jack Kelly and Crutchie, two best friends and my favorite Newsies. Crutchie is the most vulnerable of the group due to his bum leg and also the most optimistic—-his optimism even shines at The Refuge. Jack would rather protect his brothers than be part of the strike- explaining his inner conflict.
Friends of the ABC
They share a lot in common with the the Newsies- both have a strong brotherly bond that feels like family and both have a cause they strongly believe in. Plus, both groups have a leader. Enjolras is this group’s leader, who is more passionate about the cause (the uprising). I even love it when you see them when they are vulnerable (“Drink With Me”). They never give up—-even when they know they are going to lose and most likely going to die.
Eponine and Marius
This is an unpopular opinion, but I love their friendship (true not in the book, but love how it got it changed for the musical). Marius is someone that Eponine needed in her life. He was her light and the only good thing in her life. He was the only person who showed her kindness and even compassion. Look- Marius was worried about her- I think that was why he sent her away from the barricades and why he asked why she came back.
“A Little Fall of Rain”— true, he was devastated, but he stayed with Eponine because of his compassion. She ended up giving her life for Marius. Marius ended up comforting her in this scene, and it was the happiest moment of her life because he was with her.
Aladdin, Babkak, Omar, and Kassim
This was actually one of the newest friendships to enter my life. I really don’t know what I love about this friendship. In the stage show, it did create some incredible scenes and songs. Hard to explain- they were an incredible replacement for Abu.
Lumiere and Cogsworth
Wait, what is so incredible about a talking candle and talking clock? I honestly don’t know exactly.
Elphaba and Glinda
Well, it wouldn’t be a friendship musical post without these two. These two create a pretty powerful and special bond. They may be enemies at first, but eventually they became best friends. They really made a huge impact into each others’ lives- “because I knew know, I have been changed for good”. I really think the love triangle actually strengthens their friendships—-it really shows their loyalty to each other——they wouldn’t let a boy get in the way of their friendship because they didn’t try to steal Fiyero away from each other (well, they both went both unrequited love). “For Good” really explains how much they meant to each other——–it actually is the most emotional song in the entire musical.
I have loved this friendship for a pretty long time—considering that I loved Wicked since August 2006.