With two movies and a third one already filmed, the To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before series is a surefire hit. But the story behind these Netfilx films first existed on the page in Jenny Han’s young adult novel trilogy of the same name. If you’re a fan of the movies but have never read the books, that’s okay. But one of the things you may not know about Lara Jean is that she likes musicals.
Throughout the book series, Lara Jean references numerous musicals. She sings along to “Sixteen Going on Seventeen” from The Sound of Music with her family, she expresses her desire to see Hamilton, and she makes a Cosette-Eponine comparison a la Les Misérables (though it could have been a book reference) when confronting her ex-best friend, Gen.
As fellow introverted musical-loving bookworms, we couldn’t help but wonder what other musicals Lara Jean would be a fan of. Given the similarities we share with the character, we figure our taste in musicals are similar but not quite the same. We brainstormed some ideas, analyzed their stories and how they would fit Lara Jean’s taste, and decided the following are five musicals that Lara Jean has (probably) loved before.
There’s Anastasia the animated movie and then Anastasia the stage musical. While both are musicals, we’ll be referring to the stage musical in this post, because we’re only considering shows that have been adapted for the stage.
We’re not quite sure what it is about Anastasia, but we feel like Lara Jean would really like it. Perhaps it’s because Anya just wants to find who she is, where she comes from, and her family, and Lara Jean is big on family. Maybe it’s because, at its core, the show is about finding and following your dreams and your heart, and Lara Jean’s a dreamer who definitely uses her heart.
She would appreciate Anya’s sass, which would probably remind her of her younger sister Kitty a lot. Without spoiling anything, we know she’d enjoy the love story between Anya and Dmitri. “In a Crowd of Thousands” would appeal to Lara Jean as a hopeless romantic. “Journey to the Past” would inspire her, too, and everyone just loves that song, okay? Dramatic irony is always an interesting literary tool, and we can imagine Lara Jean enjoying that, especially since she’s an avid reader.
The story overall would make her sad but happy at the same time, as it’s about loss but also finding something new, taking risks, and making difficult decisions—which sort of reminds us of Always and Forever, Lara Jean, the third book in the series.
Throughout Anastasia, Anya is trying to find herself and figuring out along the way how who she was is affecting who she is. Lara Jean could also relate to that as she begins to grow and mature throughout the To All the Boys series, especially from fake dating Peter to being in her first relationship to dealing with the future.
First off, we’ve never seen a stage production of Grease, so the following is based off of Grease Live.
We all know Lara Jean loves a good love story as well as a throwback, and Grease checks both of those off. Lara Jean would adore their meet cute and summer romance in addition to their (albeit unpleasant) reunion. In the book P.S. I Still Love You, Lara Jean actually specifically mentions Grease when she tells Peter that she wishes relationships were how like they were in the ’50s:
“In the 50s, people just dated, and it was as easy as that. Like one night Burt might take you to a drive-in movie, and the next night Walter might take you to a sock hop or something.”
Bemused, he says, “What the hell is a sock hop?”
“You’ve never seen Grease? It was on TV last night. Never mind. The point is, back then you weren’t somebody’s girl until you had a pin.”
“A pin?” Peter repeats.
“Yes, a fellow would give a girl his fraternity pin, and it meant they were going steady. But you weren’t official until you had the pin.”
So we know she would enjoy the vibe of the musical and would love when Danny decides to give Sandy his ring. Based on her being a hopeless romantic, the songs “Summer Nights,” “Hopelessly Devoted to You,” and “Sandy” would be right up her alley. Based on Grease Live, “Those Magic Changes” also seems like a sweet song about love that Lara Jean would swoon over (not to mention it’s sung mostly by John Ambrose McLaren himself, Jordan Fisher!).
In terms of characters, we think Lara Jean could relate a lot to Sandy as they’re both seen as very sweet and innocent characters who want to prove that there’s more to them than that. Although both characters are wanted by the popular guy at school, they do have insecurities about being more on the sweet and innocent side compared to the other girls at school and who their love interests have previously been with.
For most of these, we must speculate that Lara Jean would be a fan of these musicals. But not for Hamilton! In Always and Forever, Lara Jean, Lin-Manuel Miranda’s show is specifically mentioned quite a bit, giving us solid proof that Lara Jean is a Hamilfan.
Her older sister Margot asks her if they could do anything, what would they do, and Lara Jean says they’d go to New York City, enter the Hamilton lottery, and win. Kitty then complains and says they can’t go without her, to which Lara Jean replies, “Be quiet, And Peggy,” making an appropriate Schuyler sisters reference. Kitty continues to be upset and says “Don’t call me And Peggy.”
Lara Jean says Kitty doesn’t even know what they’re talking about anyway, but Kitty disagrees and says she does, because Lara Jean’s always playing the soundtrack. Like a true Broadway fan, Lara Jean corrects Kitty and says it’s cast recording, not soundtrack. Then Lara Jean goes on to compare herself and her sisters to Hamilton characters: Kitty is Jefferson (“Wily, stylish, quick with a comeback”), Margot is Angelica (“She’s been sailing her own ship since she was a little girl.”), and Lara Jean painfully admits she’s Peggy.
In truth I’m probably And Peggy. But I don’t want to be the And Peggy of my own story. I want to be the Hamilton.
If that isn’t enough actual proof from the book to prove that Hamilton is one of her favorite musicals, we don’t know what is.
Considering Miss Saigon is one of the most well-known musicals featuring Asians, it only seems right that it would be one of Lara Jean’s favorite musicals. Now, we’re only familiar with the 2017 Broadway revival, so our opinion on this matter is based solely on that and not the original production that starred the legendary Lea Salonga.
Lara Jean would of course love the Asian representation. Miss Saigon is often dubbed “the greatest love story of our time,” so we know she’d be all over Kim and Chris falling in love even in the midst of war, some of the worst circumstances. She would definitely appreciate how Chris is different from the other G.I.s and actually seems to have some respect for Kim and would desperately wish things could be different for them, a different time, a different place.
“The Movie in My Mind” would make her cry, 100 percent. “Sun and Moon” and “The Last Night of the World” would make her heart glow. As a dreamer, Lara Jean would totally understand “I Still Believe”, and who doesn’t like Chris’s powerful ballad, “Why God Why?”?
At first, she might be overwhelmed by the show overall, from the costumes to the setting to the first few numbers since it literally takes place in a Vietnamese bar/brothel. But she would be able to handle it, respect it, and understand that stuff like this really did happen during the Vietnam War. Then she would end up totally drawn into the love story and story about family, two things that are very important to Lara Jean. By the end, Lara Jean would probably be crying or at least very sad, especially considering her mom’s passing and would see Kim as a strong woman whose love for her child has no bounds.
While the idea of the “white savior complex” is present in the show, ultimately we think Lara Jean would see the show as one that emphasizes sacrifice and the strength of maternal love. She wouldn’t come away from the show thinking it was about romantic love but rather familial love. It’s like how in the movie version of To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before, Peter mentions how there are racist stereotypes in Sixteen Candles; Lara Jean responds by saying she dislikes it, but that one detail doesn’t make her dislike the story as a whole.
West Side Story
We’re biased, because, collectively, West Side Story is our favorite musical. But we truly believe WSS would not only be one of Lara Jean’s favorite musicals, but it would be her all-time favorite musical.
As a hopeless romantic, we think it’s safe to assume Lara Jean would be interested in absolutely anything based off of Romeo and Juliet, immediately making WSS something of her interest. Beyond that, though, it is an iconic, classic musical with romance, conflict, a breathtaking score, and beautiful choreography. It has everything you would want from a musical, so we think it would be nearly impossible for Lara Jean to not be moved by this musical take on Romeo and Juliet.
WSS‘s score has this powerful ability to move you and present the story in a way not many musical scores can, and the balletic choreography complements it nicely, adding a soft, contrasting element to the rough and tough gang lifestyle. We think Lara Jean would really appreciate the way these components greatly contribute to the storytelling of the show in a way that she can’t get from books.
Obviously, she would love the romantic relationship between Tony and Maria and would adore their love-at-first-sight moment during “Dance at the Gym.” Because, let’s be real; Lara Jean has probably daydreamed about moments just like that one. Given Lara Jean’s lack of romantic experience, she would also easily get caught up in the naivety of Tony and Maria’s relationship. She’d love their playfulness with each other, and she’d adore Tony’s willingness to just show up on Maria’s fire escape unannounced. And she would most definitely enjoy “I Feel Pretty.”
In fact, when we watched To All the Boys: P.S. I Still Love You, the opening scene where Lara Jean is prancing around and singing in her room gave us major “I Feel Pretty” vibes, because, in that scene, she was quite literally prancing around in/with a dress while gushing over being loved by a boy—just as Maria does during the song.
Come the “Somewhere” ballet, Lara Jean would definitely be bawling her eyes out. There is such beauty in the movement, music, and lyrics at that moment that makes it a real tearjerker.
Lara Jean is very close with her family, so she’d also appreciate the bonds the respective gangs have with their fellow gang members. The Jets and Sharks are labeled as gangs, but they’re really families. She would value the love they have and the respect the sacrifices they make for one another.
WSS presents such a powerful message that, come the finale, Lara Jean would likely be overwhelmed by the amount of emotions she feels. She would be heartbroken and angry but also moved and wishing she had her own Tony who would do anything for her.