Musicals are a crazy beast. There are hardcore fans, the ones who can sing anything from Rent to Mamma Mia to Hamilton without skipping a beat. Then there are the ones that know a handful of musicals but could probably write an essay on each of them. (I’m in the latter group, in case you were wondering.) With two hours or less to fall in love with characters, I’m always enthralled by the amount of characterization that can be done in such a short amount of time.
First off the bat, my all-time favorite female in a musical.
Hats off to all the Schuyler sisters, of course. (Even Peggy redeemed herself by morphing into a true star, Maria Reynolds.)
For one, she’s the main female character who raps. Hamilton was introduced as a rap god, and then Angelica comes along and shows him up with dizzying speed. More than rap talent, it showcased her dazzling brilliance. She sizes up Hamilton faster than anyone else in the cast: but she crushes on him anyway. Just as quickly, she realizes that Eliza is in love. So, Angelica lets the love of her life go to make her sister happy. In just a few songs (since Hamilton is the protagonist, not Angelica), Angelica truly shines. She’s formed into a noteworthy character by having one relationship at the core of her personal arc: her sister, Eliza. Granted, she’s tugged back and forth by her attraction to Hamilton, but she has one relationship at the core that nothing can sway her from.
(please. if you haven’t. do me the favor and look up Renee Elise Goldsberry’s #Ham4Ham performance of Congratulations .The woman deserves all the medals.)
The love interest of Evan Hansen and sister of Connor Murphy (whose death provides a motivation for the entire musical), Zoe is a complex character. She was mistreated by her brother, and is torn by her own conflicting emotions when she dies. Requiem is where we truly get a peek at her emotions: she doesn’t believe her brother deserves to be mourned like a hero, when he was truly a monster. But she also feels guilty for not feeling as sad as she ‘should’ She ends the song by determining not to be affected by Connor’s death…when the rest of the musical is about the resulting fallout. So much conflicting emotion. So much mask. So much wow.
Usually, it’s the lovely teenage love interests that either catch my attention, get the spotlight, or both. In this case, Camila went from a background character to one of my favorite females from In the Heights. Her star song, ‘Enough’, firmly settled her as the Queen of her household, a true ‘do no harm take no ****’ female. She slices and dices the conflict without regret. #goals