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The student news site of Plainfield High School Central Campus

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A Tale of Two Cities: The Musical criminally underrated

A Tale of Two Cities: The Musical criminally underrated

Way back in 2021, almost no one heard about the release of a studio soundtrack for the musical A Tale of Two Cities. This soundtrack is certainly underrated. Finding it took quite a bit of digging, as most people haven’t heard of it. In fact, I found it while searching for an entirely different musical. 

Although it is far from as popular as it should be, there is a reason it isn’t on Broadway. The simple explanation is that most of it is just average, while Broadway musicals are something to be remembered. However, the end of this musical certainly deserves applause. 

In the song Fourteen Hours, Sydney Carton waits to be executed alongside an unlucky seamstress. Rather than fearing for his own death, he spends his last hours comforting a girl he’s never met. 

After that comes Greater Love. This song is beautifully suspenseful. The entire song builds up to Sydney Carton’s execution, completed by an executioner calling up other victims of the guillotine and the sound of the blade falling. Before Carton dies, the music just keeps building suspense, until the entire musical ends with the sound of the guillotine’s blade. 

There is also one more song, Storming the Bastille, that impressed me. It’s an instrumental piece composed of melodies from other songs. It begins with the expected revolutionary tune, but then turns to a tune that sounds almost romantic, and hopeful. It is the same tune played in Fourteen Hours and Greater Love with the chorus, “And I will stay, will stay with you, until death separates us two. I’ll say a prayer, a prayer for mercy on those who this evil do.”

In the beginning, there is a song called Ambition between Stryver and Carton, in which Stryver tries to tell Carton to live a little, and create a life for himself. This song does well to capture how futile it is to tell someone like Carton, who shows clear signs of depression, to cheer up. 

There are many other songs I could dissect, such as Here Stands a Man, and Carton’s Song, but the issue with them is simply that many aren’t memorable. If one doesn’t pay attention, they may get them mixed up. If paid attention to, they are great songs, but not very original. 

Another piece of the musical that I am impressed by is the way the songs incorporate direct quotes from the book. Of course, the well-known beginning of the book, “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times,” is a part of it, but as are many other lesser-known quotes such as, “All our lives we wives and mothers have suffered, why should the troubles of one wife and mother mean anything to me now?”

The quotes from the book are details that only someone who has read the book will see. As someone who has listened to an absurd number of musicals, I can say that hearing this is exciting. There’s not a particular reason for it; it’s just nice to be listening to something and remember the book. It allows one to relate the music to something more than the story. 

Overall, I give this musical four out of five stars. While some pieces are impressive, other parts just aren’t showstopping. It is, however, criminally underrated. 

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About the Contributor
Lee Hoffee
Lee Hoffee, Staff Writer
I am a journalism 1 student, I'm looking forward to getting my work published, and I can't wait for someone to read it!

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