The great literary masterpieces found “life” in theatre, immortalized in Broadway and London.
Best loved musicales were the “Student Prince,” royal duty vs. love, where a student prince fell in love with an innkeeper’s daughter. They chanted their love in immortal songs, “Serenade, Deep In My Heart.” At the end, when the king died, the prince had to assume kingship, left the lady he loved, and sang “I Walk with God.” This was my second play at the University of San Jose-Recoletos (USJ-R), after “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.”
“West Side Story” was staged several times in Broadway because its music and the plot of racial and gang wars in New York touched relevant issues. Again, the star-crossed love (ala “Romeo and Juliet”) of Tony, a Jet, and Maria, a Shark—who sang the famous “Tonight”—ended after a gang rumble killed the major characters of both gangs. Maria, the redeeming factor, united the warring gangs and sang, ”Somewhere.” We staged this musicale three times at USJ-R.
The “Sound of Music” was a universal hit with songs like “Do Re Mi,” “Edelweiss,” “Climb Every Mountain,” and the theme song. The story focused on family values as a “jolly nanny” took care of seven siblings and melted the heart of their stern father.
The play featured happy nuns, just like those in “Sister Act,” and the “Singing Nun.” All these were staged at USJ-R.
“Miss Saigon,” set during wartime, again explored the typical love story of an American soldier and a Vietnamese girl.
They sang, “Sun, Moon” as their pledge of love. The grim situation of the abandoned children of war, the “bui dois,” set the world to thinking.
Then, the world sang and danced to ”Mamma Mia” and “Dancing Queen,” as a daughter searched for her lost father. The mother belted out the “The Winner Takes it All!” and the world listened. Magnifying!
Other favorites: “The Phantom of the Opera,” “Les Miserables,” “Chorus Line,” “Camelot,” “Evita,” “Chicago,” and “Cinderella,” among others.
What is literature without music and the stage? The printed pages of poetry and fiction must be vivified by songs that touch the hearts and feed the mind with lasting slices of life. For after all, literature teaches while it pleases and music has the right keys to immortalize these.