Musicals are one of my favorite things in life. I look forward to the production, the music, but mostly the story itself. For those who have not had the pleasure of the musical theatre experience, it is so much more than people just singing and dancing on a stage. Musicals really capture the essence of living, life and any emotional experience anyone could relate to; as long as you are able to open your heart and mind to the fantasy and wonderment of it all. The following are my personal favorite musicals. These are the musicals which have left a lasting impression on my life and touched me through the amazing stories being told and music lyrics. In some cases I feel the songs could have been written for my life. Perhaps, that is why I relate so much to these musicals because in a way they are pieces of my life both past and present. These musicals bring me comfort; they are like “home” to me. I hope you enjoy my favorites and maybe if you’ve never been to a musical or seen these shows, you may be intrigue enough to experience them for yourself.
Wicked is the “Untold story of the witches of OZ”, which is loosely based on the book by the same name by Gregory Maguire. The two main characters are Elphaba (Later to be referred to as the Wicked Witch of the West) and Galinda, later Glinda (also known as the Good Witch of the North) and how they became who we all know of them through “The Wizard of Oz”. Elphaba was an outcast and misunderstood from the very beginning. She was never accepted due to being born “green” and no one taking the time to get to know the real person inside. She was judged for misperception due to people’s ignorance and fear. Galinda, on the other hand, lived a charmed life surrounded by many family and friends that adored and loved her. She always seemed to manage to get her way and things came easy for her in life. Beauty was a trait Galinda processed, she knew it and used it to her advantage any way she could, always. Eventually, Elphaba and Galinda attend school together and needless to say have nothing in common and “loathe” each other. As is true in life, people normally have more in common than not, and Elphaba and Galinda do find their common ground and work in “tandem”, becoming close friends.
Wicked is my favorite musical by far, and Elphaba is my favorite character. If there was any character I was most like and could see several life reflections through their own actions that would be Elphaba. I have spent most of my life being an outsider and misunderstood. I’ve never been the “popular “one, nor have my opinions or feelings come across as me coming from a place of “good”. In the past I’ve often been way too sensitive to others reactions towards either me, the way I look or even my compassion for the treatment of animals. Elphaba processes all these qualities throughout Wicked and although in the end, her friend can see her as the kind, humane and “good” person she truly is, people want to believe what they are told. After a few whispers in the ear and a reputation is a difficult thing to change in the eyes of others, once doubt creeps in.
The music within Wicked is brilliant and the lyrics are amazing. Two songs from the Musical stand out for me, especially in my life right now, they are “For Good” and “I’m Not That Girl”. “For Good” speaks of gratitude and forgiveness for a person who has changed your life and made you a better person. Through the ups and downs of a relationship you learn and grow. It has to be one of the most brilliantly written “Thank you” letters I’ve ever heard. “I’m Not That Girl” tells of letting go and the realization that you are not the “one” for the man that you love. Anyone’s that has felt this kind of pain knows that these words express it all. Wicked makes you think, brings to light social issues and also is a spectacular feast for the eyes, ears, and the heart. It’s “Wonderful!”
Rent is the story of seven friends in New York; some straight, some gay and some of which are surviving HIV/AIDS. There is several love stories intertwined within the friendships, which makes for some drama throughout the musical, and what is life without some drama? The two main love stories are between MiMi and Roger, the straight couple, who are both HIV positive due to drugs use. The other couple is Angel and Collins, also both positive and they are the gay couple. There’s also a love triangle between a straight man and his former girlfriend whom now is dating a lesbian.
The couple I relate to the most is MiMi and Roger. They are constantly on and off and have trouble communicating properly, although they do truly love each other. This is reminiscence of my last relationship. The couple I’d like to strive to be more like is Angel and Collins. Everyone actually admires the relationship Angel and Collins have, as they both entirely love and respect each other as they are, and they’re very supportive and giving. A line from “Goodbye Love” states “I’d be happy to die for a taste of what Angel had-Someone to live for-unafraid to say I love you%u2026”
Rent has some amazing and heart wrenching musical lyrics. Some of the stand out songs are, “I’ll Cover You”, “Will I”, “Without You” and “Seasons of Love”. My personal favorite would have to be “I’ll Cover You”, a song sung by Angel and Collins to each other to profess their love for one another. They recite to each other “I think they meant it when they said you can’t buy love. Now I know you can rent it. A new lease you are, my love, on life-be my life.” It’s absolutely beautiful. Rent teaches us all the art of compassion, tolerance and acceptance, reminding us that there is “no day but today”.
The Lion King
The Lion King is the musical based on the Disney film of the same name. I had absolutely loved “The Lion King” the movie, when I heard they were making it into a musical I was excited and a little apprehensive as well. Well, I had nothing to worry about because this musical is brilliantly spectacular. The way they bring everything to life is truly an amazing feat and I’m in awe every time I go to see the production.
I’m sure we are well aware of the story line for this musical due to the popularity of the movie. The reason this musical is so near and dear to my heart is for the following reasons. I’ve always been drawn to “cats” of all kinds since I was a young boy. There is some kind of connection between myself and the king of the beasts. Whether it be Lions or Tigers, both I find to be the most beautiful animals in the world. So, obviously when this film and then musical came about I was instantly on board. Not only did The Lion King have my favorite animal front and center, but the story line was one I could relate to as well. Simba losses his father and struggles with his place in society and coming to terms with what is truly the right path for him to choice in life. I too have lost my father and have done my fair share of running away from my problems, or thinking I was doing so. Throughout my trials I’ve always felt the presence of my father looking out for me and guiding me along the way.
As in all great musicals, the music tells a lot of the story and once again The Lion King provides some of the best music and lyrics. The music was written by Elton John, whom I have been a huge fan of since I was a child. Another reason I loved The Lion King. Of course, the stand out song is “Can You Feel the Love Tonight”. The Lion King is definitely a must see. What’s better than a production that gives us Hakuna Matata? It means no worries for the rest of your days. What a wonderful thought.
American Idiot is the story of three young men, their friendship and the paths they each choose while trying to find themselves. All three, Johnny, Will and Tunny plan on leaving the small town they are from and hitting the big city to pursue the life they dream of, whatever that may be. Will ends up having to stay in town as he is taking on the responsibility of getting his girlfriend pregnant. Tunny joins the military and Johnny heads to the city on his own. All three experience eye opening life changing events.
The two characters I related to most were Will and Johnny. I also have gone through the struggles that come with having a child at a young age and not being fully prepared for the responsibilities that come with this full time job. Will felt trapped and angry that he wasn’t able to leave town with his friends and experience a new life. Living with regret and resentment never ends well. Johnny on the other hand is pushed into a brand new world of too much freedom and decadence. He eventually finds himself a prisoner to addiction and all it involves. He hooks up with a girl and they use each other as a crutch for continuing down a path of destruction. This too is something I’ve experienced in my life and as Johnny did in American Idiot, one must decide when enough is enough and commit to a better way of life.
Again, the music plays the most important part of the show. The songs which I truly love in American Idiot are “When It’s Time”, “21 Guns” and “Wake Me up When September Ends”. The lyrics in “when It’s Time” go straight to my heart every time. Some of them go as follows:
“I feel lonely for
All the losers that will never take the time to say
What was really on their mind instead they just hide away%u2026We are all born in a world of doubt
And there’s no doubt
I figured out
I love you”.
Priscilla: Queen of the Desert
Priscilla: Queen of the Desert was my first official Broadway Musical. I went to New York City last May and appropriately went to see one of the gayest musicals out there today. Being gay myself, I loved every second of it. It was gay heaven! This musical is a celebration from start to finish, full of musical renditions of many dance classics from the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s. The icing on the cake for me was that they sing a couple songs from Madonna, and anyone who knows me knows I’m a bit obsessed with Madonna. It’s a healthy obsession. Priscilla is about three guys in Australia who take an adventure on a bus they nickname “Priscilla”. This musical is based on the movie “The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert”.
The character I relate to most in the show would have to be Tick. He is taking the bus trip as a favor to his ex-wife who needs an act for her business, located in a distant city in Australia. Tick is a drag queen and asks a couple of his friends to join him for the trip. Tick is a bit apprehensive about arriving at the gig, due to him having a Son with his ex and his Son doesn’t know of him or that he’s gay. Nor does he know he’s a drag queen on top of it all. Although, I am and have never been a drag queen, I do have children. As a gay man you often have reservation on how your children feel about you being gay. Also, I do know what it is like to have a child not in your life as well. Yes, I know I said this show was a celebration and it is. It just has some touching moments as well, such as in life-right?
If you are looking for a fun night out with good laughs, great visuals and loads of music that everyone can sing along, then Priscilla definitely is the show for you. I don’t know anyone that could leave the theatre after seeing this show and not have a smile on their face. This is one of those musicals that I will be planning on going to see as many times as I am able. As all the other wonderful musicals on my list, this one is imprinted within my mind and I look forward to more years of reconnecting with Priscilla over and over.