My Top 5

My Top 5: Musicals

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Welcome back everyone! Sorry it has been so long! With school in full swing, finding time to write for pleasure has been tough. Thank you guys for following my journey through everything!

Anyone who knows me knows that I am a huge musical nerd. For as long as I can remember, music has been a huge part of my life! My family has always been very musical, so they instilled that love of music early on. I remember the first time that I  watched The Sound of Music…I was five or so years old and stayed up past midnight to watch the entire thing because I was completely hooked! When I was ten I went to NYC with my mom and my grandma for my birthday, and I got to see my first broadway show: Beauty and the Beast! They say I just sat there with my mouth open and my eyes locked on the stage, which is still what I look like watching shows!

I didn’t really become as obsessed with musicals until I got a bit older and I first saw Wicked live. I fell so in love with it, and I started researching more about it, watching behind the scenes, and learning every word. From then on, I was completely sucked into the world of theatre, and have even taken college classes on it! Trying to narrow down my top five musicals is no small feat, but in no particular order, here we go:

Wicked

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Wicked was one of the first broadway shows that I really got into. I remember that my parents had gone to see it, and came back that night saying how much they loved it and that they had to take me. I had always loved music, and had seen shows like the Lion King and Beauty and the Beast like I mentioned previously, but had never really researched the theatre world. We somehow got tickets to the next day performance of Wicked, and I was beyond excited! The reworking of a familiar story was so intriguing to me, and the performance did not disappoint! The sets, the costumes, the dances, the music, and the actors combined to put on a hilarious and heart-warming show that led me to dive head first into the world of theatre! I remember going to church the next day and telling everyone I could about it, and watching every clip I could find on youtube. The poor CD was worn out from playing it in my car so often! Though I don’t listen to it quite as much nowadays, it is still one of my favorites and will always have a special place in my heart!

Synopsis: Stephen Schwartz’s Wicked: The Untold Story of the Witches of Oz takes place before L.Frank Baum’s classic Wizard of Oz story ever began. Before Dorothy was even alive, two young girls met in the Land of Oz, became rivals, and then friends. One was born with emerald green skin, with a brilliant mind and a fiery spirit. The other was classically beautiful, with great ambition and incredible drive. The green-skinned Elphaba was ostracized by her family and by everyone at school. The beautiful Galinda was destined to be forever popular. Over the course of Wicked, we discover how these two young women became rivals and then the closest of friends – and how they ended up as the Wicked Witch of the West and Glinda the Good. Originally starring Idina Menzel and Kristin Chenoweth, Wicked is an amazing vehicle for two powerhouse actresses, and also features a large, strong ensemble.

West Side Story

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West Side Story is one of my all time favorites, though I cannot completely remember how I came to find it! Of course I had heard of it, and most everyone has listened to the more famous numbers, such as “Maria” and “I Feel Pretty.” I believe that I found the soundtrack online one day and really enjoyed the music, but I always want to know the background of the story! I then rented the 1961 film version off of Amazon, and I was hooked! It was such a classic, and the story is timeless. I have since seen it performed live at my local college, and it was even better in person! If you haven’t seen the movie or listened to the music, I would highly recommend it!

Synopsis: Inspired by the timeless story of Romeo and Juliet, West Side Story takes Shakespeare’s star-crossed lovers, and places them in the vibrant battleground of New York City’s West Side in the 1950s. In the midst of the deep-seated rivalry between the Puerto Rican gang, the Sharks, and the white gang, the Jets, Maria and Tony discover that ancient grudges are no match for true love. Their warring factions, however, refuse to back down, and the “rumbles”, romance, and resentment lead the bloody path to the lovers’ ultimate, tragic conclusion. With soaring, sophisticated, and diverse melodies, energetic and athletic dance battles, and its remarkably salient social message, West Side Story remains one of American musical theatre’s most revolutionary and most loved treasures.

Les Miserables

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Welcome to my favorite musical in the world. It all started in the summer before 10th grade when we were given the novel Les Miserables as a reading assignment. We all begrudgingly picked up our books and began reading. Though I’ve always been an avid reader, books for school usually don’t interest me as much. However, this time the story dragged me in and I was completely enthralled! After I realized I could get enough, I looked to the musical. Since this was before the movie came out a few years ago, the best version I could find was the 25th anniversary concert that was conveniently at my local redbox at the time. I remember keeping it for three days, watching it on repeat, and was almost in tears when I had to give it back.

From this musical I discovered so many classic songs such as “On My Own”, “I Dreamed A Dream”,” One Day More”, and “Bring Him Home”. I began my obsession with Ramin Karimloo, the man who played Enjolras in the 25th anniversary production. I’ve performed “On My Own” in my high school scholarship pageant. I’ve even been blessed to have seen it in person 3 times, and each turn was better than the last! When the entire cast came on stage for the finale, I was bawling. I can’t recommend this show to you enough! It can be confusing at first, but it is a story you do not want to miss!

Synopsis: One of the world’s most iconic and longest-running musicals, Les Misérables tells the story of Jean Valjean, a former convict who spends a lifetime seeking redemption. Set against the backdrop of 19th-century France and the aftermath of the French Revolution, this timeless story of intertwined destinies reveals the power of compassion and the quiet evil of indifference to human suffering. As Valjean’s quest for a new life carries him into Paris and to the barricades of the Student Revolution, he is hunted by Inspector Javert and the ghosts of his past. Amidst a battle for the soul of Paris, he discovers the true meaning of love and salvation. Performed in over 40 countries and 22 languages, and with a lush, swelling score that features such famed songs as “I Dreamed a Dream,” “On My Own,” and “Bring Him Home,” Les Mis brings Victor Hugo’s revolutionary novel blazingly to life.

The Phantom of the Opera

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Here is another one of my all time favorites! I believe my experience with Phantom started sometime after I got into Les Mis. Remember Ramin that I mentioned earlier? He is actually world renowned for playing many major roles on Broadway and the West End, one of which was the Phantom. While looking him up and seeing what else he had been in, I saw that he also had played the Phantom in the 25th anniversary concert of The Phantom of the Opera. It was on Netflix at the time and, just like Les Miserables, I couldn’t stop watching it on repeat! I know it won’t be up everyone’s alley, but it is such a classic, you definitely need to give it a try!

Synopsis: Based on the 1910 horror novel by Gaston Leroux, The Phantom of the Opera is a thrilling and romantic account of the legendary Phantom, a musical genius who dwells deep beneath a majestic opera house in Paris. Shunned by society for his horrible facial deformity, he takes a promising young soprano, Christine, under his wing and grooms her for operatic fame, all the while falling deeply in love with her. As Christine grows ever more successful, and a handsome young man from her past begins to successfully court her, the Phantom descends into a jealous rage and terrorizes the opera company with increasingly dangerous threats. Andrew Lloyd Webber’s score soars with such famous tunes as “Think of Me,” “All I Ask of You,” “The Music of the Night,” and the title song, “The Phantom of the Opera,” and Phantom has gone on to become a cultural tour de force, and one of the most successful musicals of all time.

Hamilton

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Welcome to my newest obsession. I have always loved history, but Hamilton takes it to a whole new level! I had heard so many great things about it, but not until my friend Marissa texted me asking me if I had listened to it did I really give it a chance. Now I listen to it “nonstop” 😉 It is a combination of hip hop, broadway, and the history of America like you have never seen it before! I don’t even know how to describe it to you, you just have to try it out for yourself!

Synopsis: Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Pulitzer prize-winning transformation of Ron Chernow’s biography, Hamilton, into a hip-hop musical is taking the world by storm. At the center of this groundbreaking multi-award-winning new musical is the story of founding father Alexander Hamilton, whose ambition drove him from the position of Caribbean outsider and bastard child to American war hero and George Washington’s right-hand man. In the process, Alexander Hamilton powerfully shaped America as we have come to know it — and gave us all a template for what it means to pull ourselves up by our bootstraps and realize the American Dream. This exploration of Hamilton’s political mastermind is being called “the most exciting and significant musical of the decade.” David Brooks of the New York Times declared seeing Hamilton to be “one of the most exhilarating experiences I’ve had in the theatre.” With heart, humor, and respect, Lin-Manuel Miranda’s new musical breathes vibrant, colorful life into this story of America’s founding fathers.

(All synopsis provided by Stage Agent)

(Honorable Mentions: Aida, Hairspray, RENT, Love Never Dies, South Pacific, The Sound of Music, Catch Me If You Can, Chicago, and A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder)

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