Musical Moments That Moved Me

Saturday, April 7, 2018 / 9:00 AM

If you're going to see Aladdin, the musical – or if you plan to see it – I'll do you a favor right now and tell you this: don't look at any photos of the production beforehand. Go in with fresh and unspoiled eyes, and when you get to the Cave of Wonders, you'll thank me because it is spectacular. Putting aside all of the theatrics and smoke, it's just a stunning set with a stunning musical number (and an intense amount of stamina to perform) to match that reminds audiences of the real star of this entire franchise: the Genie. It's worth every penny to be there to see it.

When we hit intermission, I started thinking about other moments in shows that have left me in awe – whether it's because of the excitement or because of the emotion it's evoked. Before moving to New York, I loved any opportunity we had growing up to be in the theatre, or to watch or listen to a musical in any form. And being able to see shows in New York on Broadway was really the best part of the 5 years I lived there.

There were unforgettable sets (Once, Avenue Q) and celebrities (Taye Diggs in Hedwig, Nick Jonas in How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying); there were dance numbers I loved (An American in Paris is chock full of them) and scenes that still make me laugh (The Book of Mormon is really that funny), and – of course – songs that make me emotional just thinking about them. (Of course, there are many songs and moments in musicals I've seen on film that fit the criteria of this list, but I'm only focusing on the ones I saw IRL!)

"Wait For It" – Leslie Odom, Jr. as Aaron Burr (Hamilton)
This was the moment during the show where I knew if he didn't win the Tony, there'd be no justice in the world. I am still amazed that I saw the original cast in this incredible show, and Leslie Odom, Jr. truly steals the show. Seeing this song on stage with all of the energy he poured into Burr was one of the most electrifying moments I've ever experienced in a theatre.

"Waving Through a Window" – Ben Platt as Evan Hansen (Dear Evan Hansen)
I knew I was going to cry at some point during Dear Evan Hansen. I just didn't expect it to be at the first bar of this song, and then to pretty much be in tears for the rest of the show (including intermission). Ben Platt is extraordinary and every bit of praise and award he received for this role was more than deserved. Between this and "Words Fail," Dear Evan Hansen might be the most heartbreaking and moving shows I've seen – and, quite possibly, my favorite.

"No Voice" (bare the musical)
This is a bit of a cheat: so I saw the bare revival in 2012, but I did see its source material – the original Bare: A Pop Opera – via an old bootleg back when I was in high school. (I want to stress here that I do not condone bootlegging live shows. But back in 2003, 2004, when the internet was still "new" for us kids, who knew better?)

Anyways, I don't love bare the musical as much as I loved Bare: A Pop Opera, and so much of it has to do with the changes to the music (maybe I'm just attached to "Role of a Lifetime" as sung by Michael Arden for sentimental reasons; also, where's Sister Chantelle and "God Don't Make No Trash"!) and some of the characters (Ivy and Nadia, in particular), but at the end of the show, the emotional impact of "No Voice" is still there in bare the musical.

It's the moment, in particular, during "No Voice" when the lights focus on Matt and he's standing there with the valedictorian stole that should've been Jason's that will never not give me chills.

I could go on (and on and on and on) about Bare and why it's so good (still, I prefer A Pop Opera) – and with any luck, that film that was announced earlier this year will become a reality soon enough.

"Higher" – Lea Salonga as Kei Kimura (Allegiance)
It's Lea Salonga. Of course it's going to have an impact. She is incredible, and seeing her perform live on stage was incredible and a dream come true. I truly can't tell you if it was the song itself or the moment it was performed in context of the story that hit so precisely at the right time, but I think it was the combination of those things that end up being carried by Lea Salonga that made this moment shine.

"The Weekly Volcano Press" – Kate Fisher as Jo (Little Women)
The only moment on this list that's not from a show I saw on Broadway! The Little Women musical is enormously under-appreciated, in my opinion. It's a beautiful re-telling of a classic story that I've seen twice at this point – the first time when the national tour came through Sacramento in 2005; the second time via my university's theatre program – and that I still listen to when I need some music to liven up the day (if you ever need motivation, "Astonishing" will give that to you).

When my mom and I saw Little Women when it toured in Sac, we were both in awe of the artistry and the stage. We were sitting quite far back in the theatre, but when time the curtain raised after intermission on "An Operatic Tragedy," where we sat didn't matter. The set for this number is grand and the choreography is masterful. It's such a grand spectacle, yet all built from the imagination of one person with a dream that concludes with a destiny fulfilled. It's funny, anxious, and, above all, hopeful, and I can't imagine my theatre experience without having seen this number come to life.

This is by no means a comprehensive list, and I'm sure I'll beat myself up as soon as I publish it because I'll remember a handful of songs I'lll have forgotten...but it's a start! What moments from musicals have moved you?

You Might Also Like