Each month Prudential is gifting free tickets to theatre fans from across the U.S. with the Prudential Standing Ovations Ticket Giveaway, presented by Playbill. For the chance to win, entrants are answering the question, "Which Broadway character or song inspires you, and why?" in a short essay or video. Read a few of last month's most stirring responses below.
John Millison: "Someone who inspires me is Sophie from Mamma Mia!. Despite the driving narrative of the story focusing on the identification of her father, the show ends with Sophie embracing the idea that each of the men present in the story could be a father to her. To this day, my mother has never shared with me who my biological father is. While I was told the withholding of this information stemmed from a place of love, the grief and frustration of never being able to share the experiences a son traditionally shares with his father initially was devastating. However, what I did not realize was how incredibly special it was to have an uncle drive over two hours just to walk by my side for senior night. To have older cousins be there for me buying my first car. The traditional structure of family typically warrants envy of those who are unable to follow its template. However, as a bright soul from my favorite show reminds me, there are gifts of fatherhood found beyond the ties of biology. Titles do not enable someone to be a parent…love does. I am blessed to have people who truly support and love me."
Jose Saltos: "A couple of weeks ago I was able to see Dear Evan Hansen in Chicago. I must say that 'You Will Be Found' was a song that brought me to tears. I just moved to the U.S. a year ago and it has been a big change for me. I had to basically start my life again, starting university here with no friends and feeling a big contrast with the considerable amount of friends I had in my home country. Listening to 'You Will Be Found' just brought me to tears, as listening to the lyrics I could feel that everything was going to turn out just fine. It gave me hope and expectations for this new year, as now I might make more friends, meet more people. Knowing that there are also people feeling alone and looking for friends is a relief. It just inspired me to go into the new year and semester with all the desire to be better, talk to more people, and explore everything more overall."
Stephanie Finnegan: "I am inspired by Cassie and 'The Music and the Mirror' from A Chorus Line. Like Cassie, who struggles to secure her place in the show, I worked as an advocate for women who had left the workforce and were now looking to reenter and gain a shot at independence. It was an inspirational job, because I helped women who had toiled as caregivers, devoted daughters, nursemaids, and other unpaid heroes who now needed employment. I also assisted women who were institutionalized and incarcerated. These people had abilities and talent, but didn't fit the traditional mold of a new hire. When Cassie sings, 'Give me a place to fit in. Help me return to the world of the living by showing me how to begin,' it sends shivers through me. I witnessed women struggling not to be the major player in a company, but a valued assistant, an employee with a paid job. Cassie had been a onetime 'big deal' and now was fighting to be in the chorus. She unleashes her passion and need for validation. So did these women. 'Put me to work/ You would think that by now I'm allowed/I'll do you proud.' Believe me, they did!"
Akshat Jha: "One of the things Hamilton does so well is giving each character their own refrains and musical signature that pop up over and over throughout the show. In 'Satisfied,' Hamilton sings his own name in the rhythm of the opening number. Also, talk about a flirty first meeting full of subtext—that Hamilton has game, which I guess he’d have to for not one but two women to fall instantly in love with him. In this song, I got a perfect picture of who Angelica is as a person, in addition to the Schuyler family dynamic and her relationship with her sister. The brilliant Renée Elise Goldsberry gets to really show her rap skills in the song, which has a rhythm reminiscent of 'Super Bass' by Nikki Minaj. I remember streaming Hamilton online some years back and since that day, the want to witness the magic of Broadway live became stronger than ever!"
Felicity Robertson: "I am inspired by Éponine from Les Misérables. When I was 10, I was given the opportunity to play Little Cosette in my theatre troupe's performance of Les Miz, and I had such a wonderful time that I’ve been in musicals ever since. Éponine was my favorite character from the moment I heard her first number. Everything about her screams confidence and power. She was given the short end of the stick her entire life, but she always tried to do right by those she cared for. Her story is one of unrequited love—and one I can deeply relate to (Let’s just say I’ve had my fair share of unrequited love, and trust me—it is the WORST). Éponine will always have a special place in my heart. She’s like a soul sister."
Harsh Mahajan: "Billy Flynn, the lawyer in Chicago, really inspires me. He’s someone who has never lost a case for a female client. Being a law student, I really admire that. He may have his vices, like we all do, and circumstances would’ve contributed to them, but his skill as a lawyer is mesmerizing. He preps his client for the press, presents an image that garners sympathy. Most lawyers are very stressed at trials, but not Billy! The trial is portrayed as a circus with Billy in complete command, perfectly orchestrated with the tap dance in the background. He’s like a fish in water at the trial, and it’s like nothing can surprise him, almost as if he had anticipated everything and knew exactly what the next step would be; that is a great lawyer! Most attorneys are skeptical with press, but Billy knows the power of the pen. He knows how to wield the press to gain more sympathy for his client. Whatever his motivations for being the way he is may be, he’s an adept attorney and he inspires me to be a zealous attorney for my future clients, too!"