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Why I Fell in Love With German Language Musical Theatre

Guten Tag, Leute! Those of you that have read some of my posts on this blog will know that several of my favorite musicals are German language musicals like ELISABETH, SCHIKANEDER, TANZ DER VAMPIRE, and etc.. But why are those musicals so important to me? Well, today I endeavor to explain why.

Drew Sarich in TANZ DER VAMPIRE

For as long as I can remember, German culture’s been an important piece of my life. My grandpa was from Germany. Every year my family would go up to Levenworth, WA., a little Bavarian town in Washington state. And so, German language also had an importance to me.

As it turned out, so did musicals. At first I mostly listened to musicals in German. Disney movies were always really fun for me to watch in German and were the entryway to my fascination with the language. From there I listened to musicals like WICKED and PHANTOM in German and fell in love.

Willemijn Verkaik as Elphaba and Mark Seibert as Fiyero in WICKED, Germany

After learning German for a long time, I decided to give well-known German language musicals like ELISABETH and TANZ DER VAMPIRE a try. I fell in love with ELISABETH almost immediately and it remains one of my favorite musicals to this day and is, as a matter of fact, neck-and-neck with musicals like LES MISÉRABLES and WICKED at the top of my list. 

Annemieke Van Dam as Sisi and Mark Seibert as der Tod (Death) in ELISABETH

STARLIGHT EXPRESS is Germany’s longest running musical and, coincidentally was the musical that made my mom want to com to America as an exchange student. It was also the musical that really originally got me into German musical theatre. 

Kevin Köhler as Rusty and Trina Hill as Pearl in STARLIGHT EXPRESS, Bochum

But why has my love for German language musicals transferred to loving musicals that were originally written in English that are performed in German? Well… in general I just love the production value of so many German musical productions. The costumes are always gorgeous, the wigs are flawless, and the sets are designed beautifully. Seriously. And, besides, I’ve always thought that German is a wonderful language for music. Even when it comes to non-musical theatre music, I always find myself loving German music more than English music. The language just seems to flow so well. There’s also the fact that German is a language that I can visualize. It’s tough to explain, but unlike English and the other languages I speak, German is a language that just forms pictures in my head.

Daniella Braun as Christine Daaé in PHANTOM, Oberhausen

My newest German language musical theatre obsession? Well, that’d be Stephen Schwartz’s new musical, SCHIKANEDER that premiered in Vienna last year and just closed last week. SCHIKANEDER has reminded me of all of the reasons I fell in love with musicals and German language musicals in the first place. The costumes, music, set, cast, story–everything–was amazing. 

Toby Joch and Katie Hall in SCHIKANEDER (Photo credit: Toby Joch)

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So, that’s kinda been a quick crash course on my journey with German language musicals. What do you think of German language musicals? What other languages do you really want to see musicals in?

Musical Characters That Deserve More Credit

Hallo, Leute! Us musical theatre fans hear about characters like Christine Daaé, Elphaba, Enjolras, Jean Valjean, and etc. all of the time. But what about the characters who are generally overlooked? Today, I thought that I’d do a little post about characters from musical theatre whom I think are under appreciated! Los geht’s!

  • Raoul de Chagny – I talk about Raoul a lot mostly because I think that he is a guy that is so underrated and that he deserves so much more credit than he gets. To be honest, I think that Raoul is one of the sweetest characters in musical theatre. Really the only reason I’ve ever seen people state for hating him is because they wish that Christine ended up with the Phantom. But really, that’s no reason to hate on Raoul! 

Toby Joch as Raoul in PHANTOM, Oberhausen (Photo cred: Toby Joch)

  • Fantine – Of all the characters in LES MISÉRABLES, I think that Fantine would be the most underrated aside from Marius and Cosette. But, I think that for this post today I’d like to just focus in on Fantine. Fantine really only is in the first part of Act I and at the very end of Act II, but in so many ways her part in the story is one of the most important. Without Fantine there really wouldn’t be altogether that much of a story to be told. And, not to mention that, in my opinion, Fantine’s love for Cosette is definitely one of the most phenomenally portrayed loves in musical theatre.
Jana Werner as Fantine in LES MIZ, Berlin
  • Sydney Carton – The reason as to why Sydney is underrated is actually pretty understandable–after all the musical version of A TALE OF TWO CITIES isn’t altogether that well known. But all the same, I will continue to insist that Sydney deserves so much more credit than he receives. In my opinion, he’s got some of the best songs in musical theatre and his sacrifice and great ability to love really make him a really wonderful character.
James Barbour as Sydney Carton
  • Dolly Levi – One of my favorte things about Dolly is how cheerful, kind, and energetic she is. She’s always smiling and has this great ability to make everyone around her smile. It really is contagious! She also has this great love of helping people and I love that about her!
Barbra Steisand as Dolly
  • Nancy – I think it’s such a shame that people don’t talk about Nancy all that much. She’s such a wondeful character who is full of so much optimism, love, and kindness. She was actually the first musical character that I ever really fell in love with. I always thought that she was such a strong girl and full of so much life! I love how much she cared for Oliver. I love how she even put herself in danger so that Oliver could have a better life.
Ruthie Henshall as Lucy
  • Rusty – For as long as I’ve loved STARLIGHT EXPRESS, I’ve loved Rusty. Rusty is one of  those characters that is so easy to relate to. He just wants to , for once in his life, be regarded as more than the rusty steam train that he is. He doesn’t let the other trains’ name-calling and harrassment get him down. He just gets right back up again and continues to work towards what he wants. 

Kevin Köhler as Rusty in STARLIGHT EXPRESS, Bochum

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Which characters from musical theatre do you think deserve more credit? Vielen Dank und tschüss!

Growing Up | Musical Tag

Guten Morgen, Leute! I saw the “Growing Up” Book Tag going around on Booktube recently and I liked the questions so I thought that I’d mold them a little to fit musical theatre! Anyways, los geht’s!

1. Pre-school: It’s okay to admit it, you’re just in it for the pictures. What’s your favorite musical that has lots of spectacle and dance?

I think that for this one I’m going go go with WICKED for this one! This musical was a big part of my childhood and one of the main reasons I fell in love with this one initially was due to the spectacle factor and just in general how Oz-like the whole musical felt!

2. Kindergarten: NAP TIME! What’s a musical that put you to sleep? 

WEST SIDE STORY. I know, I know. WEST SIDE STORY is one of those musical theatre big names. But I just fall asleep every single time I try to sit down and watch it.

3. Elementary School: Recess and story time and jungle gyms–SO MUCH FUN. What’s a musical that’s just plain fun? 

Gonna go with HELLO, DOLLY! and THE MUSIC MAN for this one! Both are really fun musicals to watch and are the type that keep you smiling all the way through!

4. Middle School: The awkward and embarrassing years… What’s a musical that you’re embarrassed you used to be a huge fan of? 

I really can’t think of one for this question, actually. I can’t recall there being any particular musical I’m embarrassed to say I liked in the past. However, I will say that I do look at musicals like LESTAT that I really love and realize that there are a lot of flaws within them. But I wouldn’t say that I’m embarrassed to say that I like it.

5. High School: The popular girl, the jock, the nerd, the loner–these are all stereotypes, but people are more than they appear!! Who is a character that you initially wrote off as a trope/stereotype but grew to love? 

I’ll admit that initially I was not that big of a fan of Fiyero. In fact, I might say that I even say that I very strongly disliked him when I first saw the musical in English. However, listening to the German version of “Dancing Through Life” [Tanz durch die Welt], I grew to like him a lot more and see him as more than just an annoying, self-absorbed guy.

6. College: Out on your own, forging your own path, making your own schedule. What is your favorite coming-of-age story? 

Does Belle’s story from BEAUTY AND THE BEAST count? In the Broadway version, Belle has a gorgeous song called “Change in Me” that really shows how much Belle has grown up and changed throughout the course of the story and I think it’s wonderful!

7. Adulthood: Taxes and retirement accounts and car payments OH MY. All depressing, but you still have a sense that the world is your oyster. What is a musical that’s pretty depressing, but also has a sense of optimism to it?

Gonna go with ELISABETH, LES MISÉRABLES, and A TALE OF TWO CITIES for this one. These three are at the top of my favorite musical list because of the mixture of tragedy and optimism found within them. In ELISABETH, Sisi sees her life fall apart and struggles to deal with her depression but throughout it all she manages to stay strong and fight and remain optimistic. In LES MISÉRABLES, so many characters go to their deaths. There is so much suffering and sadness and yet every character dies happy in their own sort of way. There is also a strong spiritual and inspirational side to LES MIZ that makes it far more than just a depressing story. Then, in A TALE OF TWO CITIES, we see great sacrifices made by Sydney Carton. We see him grapple with unrequited love. We see him go to the guillotine all for the sake of Lucie’s happiness. The optimism is so clearly there, though, in the midst of all that tragedy. Sydney, at his death, says “It is a far better thing I do than I have ever done; it is a far, far better Rest I go to than I have ever known.” See, he’s content–happy, even–with his ending and his death. And that provides enough optimism for the story to rise far above being “just a tragedy.”

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What would your answers for these questions be? Vielen Dank und tschüss!

Why I Love the 10th Anniversary Production of LES MISÉRABLES’ 17 International Valjeans Sing ‘Do You Hear the People Sing’ 

Hallo, Leute! This week I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about LES MIZ and I rewatched the 10th Anniversary production DVD. And thus, I was given a very friendly reminder of the fact that for the 10th Anniversary, 17 different Valjeans from around the world sang “Do You Hear the People Sing.”

And man, that part of the celebration is just so amazing. Really. I love that segment so much. We see so many countries taking part in the celebration and I feel like this is very significant and very, very telling of what an amazing, impactful show LES MIZ is. It’s been performed all over the world and is a story that people internationally have been able to connect to and unite under. I think that’s such an amazing thing.

One of the things that I love so much about LES MIZ is that it is such a wondeful show that unites the world together and the 17 Valjeans from around the world singing “Do You Hear the People Sing” is a wonderful manifestation of that.

Here’s a video of the segment: https://youtu.be/KPpkTgMbhRU

What do you think of the 17 International Valjeans singing “Do You Hear the People Sing?” Danke und tschüss!

THE “MY DOG ATE MY HOMEWORK” CONSPIRACY | Short Story / Play Script

Guten Morgen, Leute! Yesterday I talked a little about the play I wrote this week and I thought that I’d share it with you all today! It weird, it’s short, but I think it’s fun! Anyways, I hope that you all enjoy! 

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THE “MY DOG ATE MY HOMEWORK” CONSPIRACY

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CHARACTERS

ANNEMIEKE: A fun-loving first grader with a tendency to speak quickly when she gets excited.

MS. TAYLOR: The first grade teacher who never seems to be able to catch a break.

SETTING

A first grade classroom. It’s early morning and the teacher, MS. TAYLOR is collecting the homework from last night. Annemieke Reinhardt, however, has other plans.

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ANNEMIEKE: (doodling in her notebook nonchalantly) I don’t have my homework.

MS. TAYLOR: Oh, is that so? Well-.

ANNEMIEKE: (cutting off Ms. Taylor’s interjection) My dog ate it.

MS. TAYLOR: Now, really. If you think that that’s a good enough excuse-.

ANNEMIEKE: (looking up from her notebook) I suppose not. Too generic, isn’t it? (getting up from her chair and walking to the front of the classroom as if ready to make an address)

MS. TAYLOR: Annemieke Reinhardt, what are you doing?

ANNEMIEKE: (innocently) Ms. Taylor, I thought that you wanted my explanation as to what happened to my homework!

MS. TAYLOR: (no longer amused) I did no such thing. Find your seat, Annemieke. At this hour of the morning, I haven’t got the patience for you and your games!

ANNEMIEKE: But you made a very good point: the dog eating my homework wasn’t a good enough excuse. (giggling) And well, truth be told, that was only a part of the story.

MS. TAYLOR: (sighing) I’m sorry for whatever happened to your homework, but really, Annemieke, we’ve got so much to cover and there’s no time for you to explain-.

ANNEMIEKE: (speaking immensely quickly) Oh, but it’ll only take a moment, Ms. Taylor. See? I can talk very quickly if I want to!

MS. TAYLOR: Annemieke-.

ANNEMIEKE: Oh, but it’ll only take a moment!

(The class looks to ANNEMIEKE expectantly and she takes this as encouragement)

ANNEMIEKE: (speaking as fast as possible) I went to the park, see, and my brother, Emanuel—perhaps you know him?—snatched up my homework and a pigeon—it was a nasty pigeon—took it from him and ran it through the pond. He did return it after I yelled at him for a good while and-.

MS. TAYLOR: Come now, that’s utter nonsense-.

ANNEMIEKE: (paying no attention to MS. TAYLOR’s protests) And then—this is where the dog comes in—and then a dog decided that my homework—now completely covered in algae and all manner of pond murk—looked tasty! Can you believe it?

MS. TAYLOR: (aside) Believe it? No, I cannot believe it!

ANNEMIEKE: (more excited than ever and now speaking even more animatedly and quickly) Then, Asparagus—that’s the dog’s name—ate up the homework. Luckily for me, though, Asparagus has this routine of throwing up every morning. So, this morning, just as expected, my homework was laying out on the front porch. Very soggy and crumpled, yes, but it was there.

(at this point, MS. TAYLOR looks nauseous)

ANNEMIEKE: (skipping back to her seat) I could give it to you if you’d like—it’s in my backpack—but Mama told me that it would be very impolite and unappreciated to give you the homework after it had already been in Asparagus’s stomach. But if you’d quite like me to, I really could give it to you-!

MS. TAYLOR: (trying to compose herself) N-n-no. That’s alright, Annemieke. Y-you don’t have to do that.

(ANNEMIEKE digs around in her backpack and pulls out the homework. To MS. TAYLOR and the class’ surprise, the homework is clean and crisp.)

ANNEMIEKE: (cheerfully placing it on top of MS. TAYLOR’s stack of homework) Here you go!

MS. TAYLOR: (staring at ANNEMIEKE in confusion) B-but it was eaten by your dog!

ANNEMIEKE: Oh, that? (laughing) I just dreamed all that up last night. I just thought that you might want to hear the story.

MS. TAYLOR: (sighing) Annemieke Reinhardt, really…

ANNEMIEKE: (talking quickly again) Are you that disappointed that it wasn’t a real story? Because if you want-.

MS. TAYLOR: (yelling) Annemieke!

End Scene

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That’s it for me! What’s your favorite memory from elementary school? Vielen Dank und tschüss!

Writing My First Play?

Hallo, Leute! I write novels and short stories on a pretty regular basis–it’s what I’m used to!–but writing plays? That’s something I never even thought about doing before! However, this week, I did it! It’s super short–only 2 1/4 pages–but, for whatever reason, I feel pretty proud of myself! 

To be honest, the toughest part of writing the play was well… the formatting. It was something completely new to me and so I had to do a little bit of research on how to go about it! But, after awhile, I got the hang of it and it moved pretty smoothly.

Since my intention was for the play to be really, really short, I had a tough time coming up with an idea. I changed ideas so frequently that I began to wonder if what was meant to be a short and sweet project would wind up taking months to put together. In the end, though, I came up with a fun little idea.

I decided to call the play THE “MY DOG ATE MY HOMEWORK” CONSPIRACY. Maybe you can guess what it’s about from the title?? 

So, while writing my first play was definitely a difficult journey, I had a lot of fun with it! Is it my best work? I don’t think so. But it did test well with an audience this morning and I had a lot of fun with it! And I think that that’s what counts.

Tomorrow, I’m hoping to post my play tomorrow for Short Story Thursday! 

Have you ever written a play? Do you think that it would be something you’re interested in? Vielen Dank und tschüss!

Cartoon Versions of THE HOBBIT and THE RETURN OF THE KING? | Review

Hallo, Leute! I love J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings and I love Peter Jackson’s adaptions of the books. Oh, and I also love the cartoon movie adaptations! Yep, that’s right: cartoon adaptions! It’s not necessarily a well-known fact that there are indeed cartoon movie adaptions of Tolkien’s epic saga. So, for today I thought that I’d do a review today! The movies are The Hobbit (1977) and The Return of the King (1980).

First and foremost, one of the reasons why I love these movies is that I think that they capture the essence and spirit of Tolkien’s works better than the Peter Jackson films. Sure, I love the epic feel that Peter Jackson brings to the stories but really, the animated versions bring out the soft, homely feel to the stories that is definitely there, I think.

Another reason I love the cartoon versions is that there is music! Yep, music! In The Hobbit movie they use all of the songs from the book which is probably one of my favorite things about the movie! Then, in The Return of the King, there are some really sweet, cute original songs. I just love how hobbit-like these songs feel. They really do add a certain layer to the story that’s just not there in the Peter Jackson versions.

I guess that these cartoon versions are probably a hit-and-miss sort of thing. They’re probably not for everyone but I think that, if you’re the right type of person for it, you’ll love it! Personally I absolutely adore these versions and I think that they definitely add to the story in a positive way and I love that!

Have you seen the cartoon movies? If so, what do you think about them? If not, do you think that a cartoon movie would be suitable for Tolkien’s books? Vielen Dank und tschüss!