Category Archives: musical

Over the Rainbow

During the Great Depression and WWII, the American people flooded to the cinema. For a few hours, a movie could take them away from their troubles, transporting them some place enchanted, where there was no economic depression or war. Love, endurance, and goodness always triumphed. 1938 saw the production of the Technicolor musical The Wizard of Oz. Home, love, and overcoming adversities were a few of the overarching themes. The magical adventure of Dorothy Gale and her friends fighting against The Wicked Witch and searching for their heart’s desires struck a chord with audiences. The songs in the movie are memorable, but one stands out from all the others. And eighty years later, the song “Over the Rainbow” continues to touch lives.

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Never Satisfied: Angelica Schuyler’s Story


“You strike me as a woman who has never been satisfied.”  These words essentially sum up Angelica Schuyler, a powerful figure in the musical Hamilton. She even sings/raps a song called “Satisfied.”

“Satisfied” is a key word in the show.  Both Alexander Hamilton and Angelica are never satisfied and that leads them to be attracted to each other.  Even in real life, she and Hamilton had a very flirtatious relationship; you could even go so far as to say it was an emotional affair. However, Angelica notices that her sister Eliza is similarly smitten, and decides to help her sister instead of herself.

Before we examine Lin-Manuel Miranda’s characterization of Angelica, we should get the historical inaccuracy out of the way. In “Satisfied,” Angelica claims that “my father has no sons, so I’m the one who has to social climb, for one.” In reality, General Philip Schuyler had two older sons, but Miranda said that he “definitely had to take a dramatic license.” So why does Angelica do what she does?


Her character is defined by love. Though a significant amount of her stage time is devoted to her attraction to Hamilton, she is characterized by how much she loves her sister. She sacrifices the man she expects could be the love of her life and intellectual equal because of Eliza’s crush. Later on, when he cheats on her with Maria Reynolds, Angelica returns to America from London just to tell Hamilton off. It is spelled out plain as day in “The Reynolds Pamphlet”: “I love my sister more than anything in this life, I will choose her happiness over mine every time. Put what we had aside, I’m standing at her side. You could never be satisfied. God, I hope you’re satisfied.”

In a new, stronger wave of feminism and the rise of the Bechdel Test, it is becoming increasingly prominent how often women are just placed into stories to fight over men.  Angelica and Eliza (and Peggy, for that matter) are a testament to sisterly love. Eliza puts her sister over Hamilton as well; after the affair, in “Burn,” Eliza repeatedly quotes Angelica’s warning advice, showing that she was well aware of her husband’s flaws and trusted her sister above all else. In “Take a Break,” when Alexander goes back on his promise to spend the summer with the Schuylers, Eliza goes with Angelica anyways. Throughout this musical, despite the many bridges burned and bonds broken, the one between the Schuyler Sisters remains strong. The two women refuse to let a man get in the way of their relationship and still have the utmost respect, admiration, and love for each other.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: If you don’t see Katie Friedemann get on Broadway, she’s died trying.  When she’s not geeking out, acting, or writing, she’s adoring her beautiful dog. You can find her on Tumblr as @ver0nica-sawyers.

Witch in the Woods



If ever there was a musical laced with double meaning, it is Stephen Sondheim’s Into the Woods, a story that takes fairy tale tropes and turns them on their head with a dramatic shift in tone in the second act. The first half entwines the lives of Rapunzel, Cinderella, Jack (and the Beanstalk), Little Red Riding Hood, and a Baker and his Wife, all venturing into “the woods,” where each will face new aspects of their inner nature and their fears (and sometimes hidden desires), before reaping the dark consequences of their actions. Continue reading

Warning, It’s Wicked!



Many wholesome, God-fearing folks didn’t need to look deeper. The title of the wildly popular musical ensured that those who could never associate with anyone wicked (much less dare to imagine they could be wicked) wouldn’t give this worthy musical a second glance.

Thankfully, I’m over my do-not-open-the-cover, fearful days of classifying things quickly as good and evil. Wicked: The Untold Stories of the Witches of Oz was warm-heartedly wonderful; I’m so grateful I took my young teen daughter to share this experience of musical art with me. Continue reading

The Band Wagon



Musicals have always been a part of my life. Some of my earliest memories are of sitting in front of the television, entranced by the color and spectacle of a song-and-dance extravaganza.

As I grew older, I came to love the stage-born genesis of the musical movies whose color, romance, and joie de vivre were knit within the very fabric of my being from childhood, when I stood in awe of Gene Kelly’s exuberant dance in the rain or Fred Astaire’s effortless elegance. I have a special affinity for “backstage” musicals, Hollywood’s attempt to peek behind the curtain and reconcile the long-standing tradition of live entertainment with the ever-evolving film medium. The go-to musical in that case is Singin’ In the Rain but there’s another backstage musical just as dear to my heart (if not more so): The Band Wagon. Continue reading

What Musicals Are Supposed to Do: Seven Brides For Seven Brothers

NOV / DEC 2013: BY ELLA G.


I have to be in the mood for musicals. The singing, dancing, and sheer utter happiness is either a recipe for warm and fuzzy feelings, or will trigger my gag reflex. After all, no one really breaks out into song as easily as they do in the movies. I have yet to see anyone launch into a tune while out in the rain. Oh wait a minute. I’ve done that. Never mind.

However, no matter what mood I’m in, I always enjoy viewing Seven Brides for Seven Brothers. It isn’t known as one of the more serious musicals. It has all the unbelievable moments, and even ridiculous and predictable dialogue you expect… yet no matter how long I go without seeing it, I can still quote it. It’s just one of those movies that one remembers. Continue reading

Romantic Escapism: Meet Me in St. Louis



It is 1944 and America is in the thick of WWII. Faced with tragedies and trials on the home front, people flock to the movie theaters for a momentary reprieve.

Two hours of pleasure rejuvenates the soul. When MGM and its new director Vincente Minnelli conceived the idea of Meet Me in St. Louis, not only did they wish to tell a coming of age story, they wanted to take their viewers back to a simpler time. An idyllic era before both world wars, when family and friends were at the forefront of a person’s life, in the midst of the St. Louis Fair of 1904. Continue reading

Once and Forever



Once, an Irish musical released in 2006, tells a delicate story of what happens when some of life’s possibilities are left unexplored.

No one can do everything, and everyone must make choices that shape their lives. As in many musicals, Once’s protagonists fall in love—but, ultimately, not with each other. They complement each other very well in personality and talent, but rather than indulging their developing attraction, they find that they work best as friends who use their common love of music to help each other find the love they thought they’d lost. Continue reading

Polishing Heaven’s Stars: Carousel



When I first saw Carousel (1956),I was surprised at the serious tone of the story and the dark plotlines running throughout it.  I was expecting something along the lines of Oklahoma or even The Music Man, two other movie musicals starring Shirley Jones that I had seen and loved. Truth be told, I was a little disappointed at first. Now I can see Carousel with different eyes, eyes that can understand it much better after journeying through other melancholic movie musicals over the years. Carousel is a story set apart from the other happy-go-lucky musicals of the era. It deals with serious matters like marital strife, abuse, death, robbery, bullying, emotional scarring, social ostracizing, and if you look at some of the aspects in the original stage musical that were toned down in the movie, suicide and implied premarital sex. This certainly isn’t light and fluffy material. Continue reading

Singing Shakespeare: West Side Story



When a story becomes a classic, the implication is that its quality has been established over time.  Its popularity lasts over generations. Such a story then becomes the basis for variations as culture shifts. The universal and timeless aspects of the story are retained as it is presented in a new way relevant to the current time. Works don’t get much more classic than the theatrical works of William Shakespeare, and his plays are among those stories that get recycled and adapted as the years go by. His Romeo and Juliet became the basis for a classic in another medium. West Side Story excellently transposes a Shakespearean tragedy into a modern musical masterpiece. Continue reading