So recently I’ve been feeling, well, a little under the weather. Maybe it’s the fact that we have 17 SCHOOL DAYS until Christmas Break. Or maybe it’s that I’m so done with this semester it’s insane. Or many, just maybe, I haven’t been able to watch my fair share of musicals because I’ve been doing something I like to call: my job.
Yes, indeed, folks, sometimes jobs come before personal lives and in my case, the last month of so of this school year has kicked my butt. So I thought I would talk about something that I’m passionate about–fairy tales.
Also, I’m home sick today so there’s that.
Anyway, recently I’ve been thinking a lot about my favorite stories–musicals and non-musicals alike, and what that says about me as a person. I feel like there are a lot of elements that make up who we are, obviously, but if you break it down, there have got to be connections between friends, family, likes, dislikes, habits–all that jazz.
For example, I read once, somewhere, sometime, that you are who you spend time with. And really, if you think about it, that makes a lot of since. I would like to believe that the person I am comes with no strings, that I popped out of the womb 25 years ago and was just…Me.
But I can see the logic in the idea that everything can affect us. I often joke with my best friends that I’m sort of like an amalgam of them. One friend is quite, softspoken, at times, but chatty, stylish, and gets very interested in a few things, but doesn’t spread her obsession around. In fact, obsession might be too intense of a word. Another friend is willing to do anything–watch any musical, any show–and will always try to see my side of things. She’s also more outgoing and cares less of what people think.
A third friend shares more of my more interesting interests, but also goes above and beyond on some things that I’m not much interested in. She loves Star Wars–I mean, so do I, but she has an Ewok hoodie and plays online games. I read fanfiction. There’s a difference. She also watches anime, loves dogs, isn’t afraid to be weird in public, and has literally nothing in common with me physically, as in style isn’t really a thing for her and whereas I’m a total makeup wearer, she’s not. Not at all.
But the thing is, with these three friends, is that I’m like all of them. There are parts of me that I could transfer out and compare to the same parts of them and they would be identical. But in me, they work together to do other things. And so, I think what I’m saying is that being myself usually means being open to new people and new places and new things and, most importantly, my friends and family.
So onto this musical thing and what they say about me.
With all this 25th Anniversary of Beauty and the Beast, I’ve been thinking a lot about Disney and music and what some people claim fairy tales do to little girls and all that. I’m not even going to start on feminism because that would be taking this simple subject too far, but I will say I’ve never once thought that fairy tales screwed me over as a child. Just saying.
What I am saying is that for the longest time, and perhaps still, Belle was my favorite Disney princess. And it was for the same reasons she was a lot of people’s favorite. She loved to read. She wanted adventure. She worried that people found her odd. She loved her family. She was willing to see beyond appearances. And she got to dance in a beautiful yellow dressed with someone she loved. And also, let’s not forget, she was able to experience MAGIC.
So I loved her. And then, quite by accident–kind of a spur of the moment thing–I was able to see the musical version in Springfield three years ago. It just kind of…happened. My mom thought it would be cool to see and so my sister and two friends and I decided to go. Our show was cancelled due to an accident the tour had on the road and we got seats for the next night.
I explain all of this because, beyond the fact that I loved the movie as a kid, I had never bothered to learn anything about the musical. Nothing. And so, on top of not knowing anything, it was also winter, freezing, AND the show we had paid for was cancelled. It wasn’t a great start to our musical experience. And my sister, who I love dearly, had to be convinced to see it after the cancellation because it just didn’t seem worth the money after that.
Anyway, my point is that the show blew my mind. The Beast was swirling in the air and the lights were reflecting off of his body and magic was everywhere and Belle was crying and my sister, sitting in the dark to my right whispered “Oh my God” and really, it was the best. THE BEST. And I would never trade that experience for the world.
So this summer, in May, my sister and I jumped at the chance to see it again. Springfield doesn’t always get the best shows, but when Beauty and the Beast comes, you go. And your mom buys you tickets for Christmas. 😉
I think what I love most about this show, this story, is its universality. It’s about all the things you could ever want from a show. It’s hard to explain, really, but it’s just lovely and well-rounded, and funny, really, really funny. I love when the kids laugh at the obvious jokes and the adults laugh at the innuendo. I love the Act I finale in “I Can’t Love Her.” I love the big, flashy dance numbers and the way that the Beast throws himself on the floor in a tantrum because Belle won’t have dinner with him. And that transformation scene, I love that too.
I also love it because it’s something that my sister and I share. We’ve seen it twice together and it’s something that we’ll always have. She loves it as much as I do and I love her for that. I also love that it’s something that I can share with others.
To date I’ve seen the show three times, the third time being this summer (yes, AGAIN) because I couldn’t get another ticket for a good friend of mine, who used to work at the Juanita K. Hammons theatre in Springfield. She moved to Kansas City this summer and so I bought us tickets and drove to visit her. She loved it. I knew she would.
But mostly, I think that musicals can say a lot about a person. I’ve had a lot of favorite musicals over the years, but Beauty and the Beast is right up there. I joke sometimes that it’s my favorite, but I’m not sure–maybe it is.
It has the darkness of Phantom, the tortured soul of the Beast and the love he so desires. It has the big, sweeping songs of Les Mis; the magic of Wicked; the hope of RENT; and the child-like faith in goodness of The Sound of Music. Or maybe I’m just making that up. Not sure.
Regardless, this show says a whole lot about me as person, not only my interests, but also my experiences, my hopes, my dreams, and the moments I’ve shared with loved ones while watching it.
And, when I think about it, this show reminds me what it’s like to be loved and, to feel, if I may, human again. It reminds me in the darkest of times that I’m capable and funny and more than strong enough to make it through. In this case…through the rest of this long, LONG fall semester.
Until next time…