Fed by ‘Hamilton,’ enthusiasm for Broadway musicals spreads

November 29, 2017 — by Kaylene Morrison and Ananya Vadlakonda

Musical numbers from Mary Poppins echoed off the walls in the theater. Sophomore Marly Feigin, then just 5 years old, was starstruck.

Being in New York City and watching a show on Broadway for the first time made her dream of one day performing as Mary Poppins in the same theater, and her interest for musicals soon began to grow.

“As soon as the curtain opened and when Mary began singing, I knew that one day, I would be up there performing,” she said.

Feigin has grown to love a variety of musicals because of their lively and engaging nature.

“There are so many different types and they all are very unique in their own way,” Feigin said. “They are very inspiring and interesting, and sort of absorb you into the plot.”

Over the past couple of years, Broadway musicals’ popularity has grown substantially, especially among many students.

The musical “Hamilton,” for one, has become a cultural phenomenon. Written and produced by Lin-Manuel Miranda, the creative premise of this musical, the combination of current lessons of American politics with 18th century American politics, caused more people to relate to it than most other Broadway shows.

With increasing demand, “Hamilton” spread across the country to places like Chicago and San Francisco. Many students have attended the show in San Francisco’s Orpheum Theater, among them sophomore Sarah Hess.

“The Hamilton experience was truly incredible, with all the added dance moves and body language,” Hess said. “The cast was immensely talented and blew us all away.”

She enjoys listening to the shows’ musical numbers over any other genre.

“When the music gets slower you can tell something important or emotional is happening, like in the middle of a ‘Hamilton’ rap when the music slows or cuts off completely and a character says or sings something serious,” Hess said.

Of course, actually attending a musical live allows for all these different aspects to come together — the musicality, the acting and the set. It makes the entire experience much more satisfying and meaningful than presenting a story in purely a musical or an acting form.

Feigin noticed this when she went and saw the musical “Dear Evan Hansen” live and thoroughly enjoyed the experience. But the one aspect that appealed to her the most from the show was the message it conveyed.

The protagonist, Evan Hansen, is a senior in high school with social anxiety disorder; much of the musical deals with topics which hit close to home for many teens, including the secret buying and selling of marijuana on school grounds, mental disorders and parent-induced academic pressure.

“‘Dear Evan Hansen’ is very appealing because it reminds everyone that they are not alone and that everyone struggles sometimes but we can all get through it together,” Feigin said.

Although Feigin knows that Broadway isn’t for everyone, as she hasn’t even found every single song to her liking, she still believes that everyone should give it a try.

“I would tell them to not just judge musicals by a few songs they have heard, and at least try it out,” Feigin said. “I mean theater isn't for everybody, just as long as they try it out before deciding that they don't like it, that is OK.”


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