By Victoria Lee

The hills are alive with the sound of music

Recently, I watched my first live musical and it was the best entertainment I’ve had in a while. One thing I will say, it’s much better than watching a movie version of a musical. There’s just something about seeing the actors in person that pulls the audience into the story!

The production I watched was a local one in the Bay Area and although I’ve never been to see a show on Broadway, it got me thinking how Broadway musicals and shows are becoming more mainstream and widespread in America, and how crucial they are to New York City’s economy.

After the huge success of Hamilton, Broadway has been on more people’s radars and industry data show a big increase in ticket sales and revenues.

Broadway, also known as the Great White Way, a name it earned because it was lit up with white signage on theaters, counts performances at 41 theaters in its scope (source).

Usually, when people think of entertainment, Hollywood comes to mind, but NYC also has a robust entertainment industry. Within that, Broadway has a significant impact on New York City’s economy, which is doubly important because NYC is the biggest city (by population) in the US. Currently, popular musicals like Wicked and Hamilton bring attention to the shows, leading to wider audiences and greater revenue. Tourism is another way Broadway brings money into NYC’s economy. The shows attract many international and domestic tourists to the city, for whom the shows are a must-see. These Broadway shows play a large part in making NYC, and the US in general, an economic and cultural capital.

Musicals, like The Phantom of the Opera and Hamilton, are the most popular type of Broadway show with over 11.4 billion tickets sold in 2018 (source) which made over $1.4 billion in revenue (source). The longest running show on Broadway is the Phantom of the Opera, and it is extremely well-received by both critics and the general public. It has even been adapted into a movie that has made it a beloved musical to many more people. This is the kind of wide-reaching impact a Broadway show can have. Not every American can go watch Broadway shows, but the movie version of a musical can be watched all over the country and the world. For example, The Phantom of the Opera has made $845 million on Broadway alone and the show is still running today (it’s been performed over 10,000 times!) (source). 

With the boom in popularity of Broadway, there’s sure to be more iconic Broadway shows in the future!

Exploring Classes

By Victoria Lee

Being a freshman new to UC Berkeley and its surroundings, I’ve been eager to try out all the new things I see, from new food to new student groups and activities. More than that, I’ve been looking for new subjects in the academic side of things too.

Since the summer before coming here in preparation for all the college activities, I have constantly been hearing adults in my life tell me to explore classes and subjects. Even in Cal’s pre-orientation training modules for freshmen, I was told over and over to take a variety of classes because college is a breeding ground for some of the most interesting and new ideas (which is true). Another one of the main reasons people advised me to explore classes was so I might find out what I want to study from taking an unexpected class.

Since I’ve arrived here at Berkeley, I’ve had fun times and not-so-fun times. I’ve met so many new people, and although they’re not my best friends yet, it’s exciting. But I also feel lost academically, more so than I’ve been before. When I came here, I decided to major in Political Economy with a little uncertainty about that choice. Government and Economics are what I’ve been interested in since high school, but I wasn’t completely certain if that was the path I really wanted to go on because how could I know I didn’t like things I’d never learned about before? I know now that I have to do some more exploring by taking classes outside my comfort zone and reflecting on who I am and what I want to do.

Do I want to major in the sciences because I’m fascinated by life and the environment around us? But what about economics? How do I know what I’m really interested in? I realized I don’t know enough about the different majors that are offered here. Well, I’ve been exploring, especially since I’m only taking one class related to my intended major this semester.

As an intended Political Economy major with an interest in international affairs, I decided that learning French would be a practical way to gain skills useful towards being involved in diplomacy. I’ve never taken a French class before in my life. I’m starting from scratch, but that’s OK. That’s part of what I need to do in order to find an interest.

But, even French is related to political economy. For me, the most adventurous class I’m taking would be introduction to Astronomy. This was one of those subjects I always wondered if I would love, because I’d never learned about it in depth. Now, although I find outer space to be a fascinating topic worthy of more discussion and research, I discovered that it’s not really my thing. I don’t get extremely energized just thinking about new observations and their implications for physics like my professor does. Well, guess I won’t be majoring in Astronomy or physics after all.

After an experience like this, a helpful way to learn from it would be to figure out what is appealing and what isn’t about the subject. I think it’s one of the best ways to find out where you want to go with your education. I won’t be exploring space, but I will be exploring subjects to study. For me, choosing a major is a stressful decision, and it surely is for many students who go through the uncertainty of figuring out what it is we are truly passionate about. So if you’re a student trying to find your academic path, we’re in this together. We just need to keep looking. On we go, on this college journey.