The Musicals of 2021

Every year, I always have a post talking about the musicals I went to. At the beginning of the year, there was no way of knowing if I would see one or not due to the pandemic. It would be difficult if I did not at least one- that is usually my goal every year. Well, this year actually consisted of two musicals, which were ones that I love.

Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat

This was done at Central Piedmont Community College over the Summer. If CPCC does a production, most likely the show will feel professional. This cast had a really talented narrator and Joseph. I actually teared up during “Close Every Door”—-yes, I knew the song was heartbreaking coming in, but wasn’t expecting that reaction. I loved both the children’s chorus and the brother ensemble. By the way, one of the children was my Young Cosette in CPCC’s production of Les Mis back in 2013 (loved that I got to see her again).

https://megsmagicalmusings.wordpress.com/2021/07/26/joseph-and-the-amazing-technicolor-dreamcoat-review/

Wicked

Well, this was my 5th time seeing the musical and happening at a milestone year for the musical. After all, I first fell in love with Wicked fifteen years ago in NYC. As a matter of fact, this was Charlotte’s first tour since the shutdown of musicals last year. Still a spectacular musical- still feels Ozian with the sets, costumes, and songs. I had two understudies- got the standby for Elphaba and an understudy for Boq. About the costumes, I noticed Elphaba’s act II costume sparkle.

I loved my Elphaba the most- teared up when I expected. I even noticed her love for Fiyero sooner than I thought. I was hoping to cry during “For Good”, and I did. While Glinda struggled at times, at first she was funny and had strong chemistry with Elphaba during “For Good”. Even Fiyero was amazing- such an incredible voice.

https://megsmagicalmusings.wordpress.com/2021/09/26/changed-for-good/

Conclusion

Good thing, I still saw musicals in 2021. I NEVER saw Joseph on stage before, and that was why I am glad that I was able to see it in person. In the case of Wicked, I am glad I was able to see it in person in a milestone year in my journey with it- being my 5th time during my 15th year loving it.

The Oddest Musical Theatre Parallel

True, there are many parallels in the world of musical theatre. I have found this in a number of characters, but I found one that I still can’t quite figure out. It is one of the ones found in Wicked and Les Mis, which is between Fiyero and Enjolras. MAJOR SPOILERS

Fiyero

He is more complex than he appears, and the male romantic lead in a love triangle. In Wicked, he goes through a drastic transformation. From being a bit of a jerk to softening up to becoming a mature and courageous young man. In some ways, he develops more in speaking scenes- the Lion Cub Scene for instance. He causes a massive plot twist in act II- as in making the unrequited love change from Elphaba to Glinda. Well, his chemistry was always stronger with Elphaba, and there were clues during act I that point to this change.

Enjolras

He is the leader of the Friends of the ABC in Les Mis. He is the most passionate about the uprising. He never gives up, no matter what, even at the end——that would result in his death. Enjolras, at one point, does give the students a chance to leave, but they don’t due to their strong bond and their passion.

Conclusion

Why on earth am I am paralleling these characters? The only similarity I can find is their courage, which you don’t spot until act II of Wicked (only because Fiyero doesn’t have courage until that moment). All I know is that actors tend to play both characters- based on the fact that three of my Enjolras actors did play Fiyero at some point.

Hope in Musical Theatre

One of the themes I found in the world of musicals is hope. As a matter of fact, a number of characters have some kind of hope and light in their lives even those with tragic lives.

Newsies

One of the groups where you see hope is found in the Newsies. They do have difficult lives- having to rely on selling papers, and many are homeless. But increasing the price will make things more difficult—–a huge reason why they went on strike when Pulitzer raised the prices. They have a strong hope for their cause- as seen in songs like “Seize the Day”.

Elphaba

Elphaba may have been born different, but she is such an incredible character. She is full of hope when she arrives at Shiz, as shown during “Wizard and I”.

Friends of the ABC

In many ways, this political group of students is very much like the Newsies. A strong brotherly bond and a cause they have high hope and passion for and one they don’t give up on till the end. Both groups even have a leader. Enjolras is the most passionate of everyone in this group.

Jean Valjean

He found hope in two ways. Initially, he found it through the Bishop, who taught him the ways of the Lord. The 2nd place was when he adopted Cosette. Cosette ended up being the best part of his life. Several of his actions ended up being a result of encountering the Bishop—-he ended up having a strong love for God.

Fantine

Can a character with such a tragic life have hope? Yes, it is true. Fantine may have a very tragic life, but she still had something to hold onto. Her light is through her daughter, Cosette. She had hope that her daughter would get a better life. She died in peace and happiness after Valjean promised that he will take care of her daughter.

Eponine

Just like Fantine, even Eponine lived such a dark life. Eponine only had one good thing in her life. After she met Marius, she finally came across someone who treated her kindly. This would lead to her strong love for him. She had to hold on or else she wouldn’t have any light in her life. She even had such a touching and moving death- she did sacrifice her life to save Marius, but at least she was in the arms of him when she died. Sadly, the happiest part of her life was at this moment—–dying in Marius’ arms.

Cosette/Marius

Yes, Les Mis is home to a love triangle. In many ways, Cosette and Marius bring a lot of hope to this tragedy. Cosette is supposed to represent light and hope, which was first seen when she was a child. The love Marius and Cosette have for each other keeps hope alive- there is a reason Marius had to survive the uprising.

Annie

Whenever I think of Annie, I think of her optimism. I think that is what drove me to loving the musical as a child.

Elphaba, Elsa, and Eponine

Of all musical theatre characters, Elphaba is my favorite. She even parallels two musical theatre characters- one from Disney and one from a classic. Those two characters happen to be Elsa and Eponine. MAJOR SPOILERS

Elsa and Elphaba

The most obvious thing in common between the girls is their magical powers. The problem with the powers is that they struggle to control them. Elphaba’s powers show up in anger while Elsa’s show up in fear. Both of them are seen as monsters, which makes both girls misunderstood. They also happen to be the eldest sibling in their family. “Let it Go” and “Defying Gravity” are very similar songs- empowering and staying true to yourself.

Eponine and Elphaba

Both of these girls are the eldest in their family, but the sad truth is they come from unloving families. Elphaba was unloved just because she was born “different” due to the color of her skin. In Eponine’s case, her parents didn’t love any of their children- not just Eponine, but the others as well. They also were taken advantage of- Elphaba by the Wizard and Eponine by her parents.

In many ways, for you think about it, Eponine’s family was worse. The Thenardiers were abusive, unloving, and pickpockets. Eponine grew up being taught the ways of a thief and criminal. Her entire family even fell into extreme poverty. No one showed her kindness at all- only one person did, who she met later in life.

Then, there is the love triangle aspect. Eponine and Elphaba both went through unrequited love, but would things improve for one of them? Back at Shiz, there were signs that Fiyero and Glinda weren’t meant for each other——–eventually Elphaba ended up with Fiyero (there were clues in act I- their strong chemistry starting at The Lion Cub Scene). But with Eponine, she would be stuck with unrequited love, but Marius was the only person who showed her kindness- why do you think she continued to love him-he was the only good part of her life. That does explain why she was happy dying in the arms of Marius.

My Favorite Musical

I may be a musical theatre fanatic, but I do love some musicals more than others. Well, to be honest, two musicals are tied for my favorite. Two severely different and very meaningful ones are up there. One is a fantasy and the other is a tragedy.

Wicked

Loved for 15 years. Yes, I first saw the musical in NYC August of 2006- at the time, it was a date with my mom, and “Popular” was my favorite song. The other four times were on tour in Charlotte. What was the importance of Wicked? For starters, I began to understand emotional connection, a vital part to the musical experience. Emotional connection is the WANT, DESIRE, and REASON, to feel the emotions. Wicked also was when I started to understand the emotional and complex side to musicals in both character and plot. In addition, it was home to the first love triangle I emotionally bonded to, one of the reasons why it is my favorite musical theatre love triangle.

Well, Elphaba played an important part in my life. To this day, she remains my favorite musical theatre character. Just like her, I know what its like to be different. Because of Wicked, there were important things I knew I wanted in musicals- spectacle, dance, comedy, romance, positive and negative emotions, and a strong emotional connection. I literally thought ALL musicals were happy and comic, and capable of sad moments, but little did I know how things would change and be challenged.

Les Mis

Well, you would think this is my favorite musical, but why hasn’t it soared past Wicked? It has to do with some of the things Wicked has that Les Mis doesn’t. Les Mis actually challenged a LOT on what I thought about musicals. Yes, sad was already at the forefront, but I didn’t know about heartbreak or tragic musicals. Even death was unmemorable and didn’t happen during song.

To get Les Mis in my life, I had to be “tricked” when I saw the musical film- by not being told it was a tragedy. That was because I had told myself I will never love a tragedy in high school. When I found out, I was confused and shocked. After the film ended, I didn’t know what to think of Les Mis. Despite that, a few days or weeks later, started researching the musical.

For whatever reason, in March 2013, I gave the film a 2nd chance and the rest is history. I was able to discover Les Mis was uplifiting. Here is my rule about a musical not having spectacle or dance- something has to make up for it. Les Mis is so powerful, emotional, passionate and epic. It has several characters to form emotional connections to and easily makes you an emotional wreck- a combo of goosebumps and tears. I learned to like tragedies because of Les Mis. I was able to finally discover the emotion of heartbreak and learn that even death can be memorable. By the way, I saw the stage show six times.