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Rewrite the Stars – Analysis

In this song we see how strongly Barnum’s influence has been on Philip since The Other Side. Similar themes of the idea that they key to the cage they’re trapped in is just there for the taking/making. I believe this song is so evocative only because it’s in the context of the songs beforehand. It’s overplayed, yes, but it speaks volumes and depth about character.

Lyric Analysis

You know I want you

It’s not a secret I try to hide

Philip earlier had tried to hide away by letting go of Anne’s hand in the opera — but later redeems himself by denying his parents instead

I know you want me

So don’t keep saying our hands are tied

Magician-escape arts involve tying hands with a rope

No denying their hands ARE tied — but it doesn’t have to be

V: Anne is curling her rope so it doesn’t get tangled and tied up

You claim it’s not in the cards

Getting a bad hand of cards may mean you’ve already lost before the game’s begun — there’s nothing you can do to win

May also reference fortune-telling tarot cards

And fate is pulling you miles away

And out of reach from me

In trapeze, if you can’t reach the other acrobat, you fall

But you’re here in my heart

Let this promise in me start, like an anthem in my heart~

So who can stop me if I decide

That you’re my destiny?

V: Similar framing technique to Barnum watching Philip give in, at the start of the bridge of The Other Side

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What if we rewrite the stars?

When something is written in the stars, it means that it’s fated

Say you were made to be mine

V: The first time Philip steps into the ring, literally and metaphorically

Nothing could keep us apart

Last time, the lip of the circus ring had kept them apart—Anne was a performer, Philip was just the business partner/advisor

You’d be the one I was meant to find

It’s up to you

And it’s up to me

No one can say what we get to be

So why don’t we rewrite the stars?

Maybe the world could be ours

A world that’s not waiting up for me, but for us


All the stars we steal from the night sky~

Night falls, reality sets in. Anne is yanked away and begins her response

You think it’s easy

Truth: it’s not risk-free — but it’s simple

V: Anne is hanging from above, like a star out of reach

You think I don’t wanna run to you

You run with me, and I can cut you free~

Whereas Philip denied his desires in The Other Side, now in this song we explore this idea further: Anne says she definitely wants to — but can’t.

But there are mountains

Mountains are big, immovable giants — like stars

And there are doors that we can’t walk through

Kind of defeats the purpose of a door, if you can’t go through it, right?

You lock the door, but don’t you stay that way~

I know you’re wondering why

Because we’re able to be

Just you and me

Within these walls

True, they are able to be together within the walls of the circus tent, where fantasy comes true…

But when we go outside

… but when fantasy gives way…

You’re gonna wake up and see that it was hopeless after all

…reality strikes.

But that’s the thing: the reality is that a home is the most certain hope you can place your hope in

V: Philip drops: he doesn’t fall with her, as they would later sing in the bridge

No one can rewrite the stars

V: Anne flies by Philip like a fleeting comet, out of reach

How can you say you’ll be mine

Everything keeps us apart

V: Philip tries to catch her, but they tumble together

And I’m not the one you were meant to find

V: Funny thing — it’s only because she’s been holding on so tight to the rope, is precisely why she’s always being pulled away and being hard to find

It’s not up to you

V: Philip chooses to grab onto the rope and pulls her back to gravity

It’s not up to me

When everyone tells us what we can be

How can we rewrite the stars?

V: Anne chooses to come down, by her own choice, convinced

Say that the world can be ours


All I want is to fly with you

V: Philip is the dreamer, pulling her up instead

All I want is to fall with you

V: She falls, but he catches her — you can’t fall too far at home

V: They soar together, fall to the ground together

So just give me all of you

However big, however small, let me be part of it all~

It feels impossible


It’s not impossible

Also true

Is it impossible?

Say that it’s possible

Can you change reality, just by the sheer act of believing it so?

Like another song’s bridge about a simple action (saying/seeing) to bend the rules: To the world I close my eyes to see~

V: In all the previous duets, Barnum sings the last chorus’ harmony line, showing that he’s a dream further than Charity or Philip; now it’s interestingly Anne who sings harmony as she soars above Philip

How do we rewrite the stars?

V: Philip steps on solid ground, reality, as Anne is yanked away by a rope not by choice this time

Say you were made to be mine?

Nothing can keep us apart

Cause you are the one I was meant to find

This line implies it’s up to fate

It’s up to you

…but the next line implies it’s up to choice

And it’s up to me

No one can say what we get to be

Maybe it’s fate, maybe it’s choice, but the idea is clear: it’s not the choice of others.

Why don’t we rewrite the stars?

V: Philip climbs up and jumps onto a swinging Anne, no matter how far they are apart he finds her

Changing the world to be ours

The music slows and fades — that always means we come back to reality. In fact, the music fades completely

You know I want you

V: They are silhouetted in darkness, in mediocrity

Just like how Philip repeats back Barnum’s lines in The Other Side, here Anne repeats what Philip said at the very start

It’s not a secret I try to hide

But I can’t have you

We’re bound to break and

A pun: Bound, also meaning restricted — but also in the sense that, those bounds are meant to break us

My hands are tied

  1. I had an epiphany: it’s a reference to how in that time, blacks were slaves
  1. Earlier, Philip had said their hands were tied. Here, Anne says it’s only hers.

V: Anne pulls Philip’s hand from her waist — just as in The Other Side, Philip pulls Barnum’s hand off his shoulder

V: Now they are set in the center light, but Anne walks out of the light of the circus ring and back into darkness

Common Motifs

“We (obviously) want to be together…”

Verse 1

You think I don’t want to run to you?

Bridge 1

“…and though changing fate really is (nigh) impossible…”

Verse 2

Pre-chorus 1a

Chorus 2

It feels impossible

“…just believe that we only have to choose to change the rules…”

Pre-chorus 1b

Chorus 1

Say that… [impossible thing]

So just give me all of you

“…then nothing can separate us from being together…”

Chorus 1

“But maybe dreams are too fragile to trust in.”

Outro/Verse 3

In-Universe Imagery

Duets & Preaching

  • A Million Dreams was a complementary duet:
    • Barnum’s and Charity’s goals of a runaway life were (seemingly) aligned (but not really)
  • The Other Side was an oppository duet:
    • Barnum and Philip mock and call each other to come to their own side (but they really wanted what the other person had)
  • Rewrite The Stars is interesting.
    • For the first time, both characters have the exact same honest goals!
  • The first two-thirds are a debate like The Other Side, but its final third sends us on the final third of A Million Dreams, from the bridge onwards.
  • This is no coincidence: Philip dreamcasting onto Anne is a mirror of Barnum dreamcasting onto Charity in A Million Dreams. Except, Anne says she has less freedom of choice than Charity because she’s not rich nor white.
  • Additionally, where Barnum was selling the dream to Philip in The Other Side, it is now Philip who sells the dream to Anne.
  • But, instead of Barnum, the preacher, winning in the end, this duet is the only one where the preacher fails.
  • Each duet keeps subverting expectations from the previous one.


  • While Anne is only suppressing her own dream, she is also suppressing Philip’s. Is she part of the “everyone” who tells us what we can be?

  • While This is Me suggests that our suppressors are someone personal, Rewrite The Stars offers that even if we can and do overcome ashamed parents: there are still universal laws of nature that we can’t breach.

Meant-to-be vs Choose-to-be

  • The first pre-chorus starts with “fate pulling us out of reach”, implying that they can never achieve togetherness no matter how hard they try.
  • But it ends with “I decide that you’re my destiny”, that the choice to rewrite prophecies is in their hands.
  • Either ways: while Anne says it’s inevitably fate that they must be apart, but Philip says that because he’s made his choice, his choice actually becomes inevitable fate that they will be together — even if Anne makes the opposite choice.


  • What’s interesting is that in the previous two duets, Barnum is the obvious preacher to Charity and Philip respectively.
  • But in this duet, though it is Philip who is singing to Anne — story-chronologically, it was Anne who broke free first in This Is Me, before Philip after Never Enough.

What’s the name about?

What does “rewrite” imply?

What do stars represent?

What is “written in the stars” for Philip, Anne, Barnum, Charity, their children, Jenny, the circus Oddities?


So I (not-so-) recently (anymore, as of editing this) watched High School Musical 1. Zac Efron, popular jock. Gabriella Montez, whiz kid. Ever since they met, they’ve found this crazy dream of being able to become more than just their stereotypes. That they can even be together.

Along the way, literally every other character and “worldbuilding” is either passively or actively trying to pull them apart by reminding them of the walls, of their cards, of their fate in the grand ecosystem of life named High School. And, one even succeeded.

But interestingly, since they’ve met, a dream sparked within them. It affected them so much that the same forces that pulled them apart had no choice but to pull them back together.

In a way, because they chose their fates to be together, they rewrote their fate of being apart. If anything, the stars are exactly what led them back to each other.

The same mobsters that burnt down the museum and nearly separated the two in death, are the same forces that revealed the fruitful result of their intrinsic choices.

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The climactic song, Breaking Free harks the idea of Rewrite The Stars. “There’s not a star in heaven that we can’t reach.” I’m telling you, Troy Bolton and Philip Carlyle are the exact same person.

Q: How do we rewrite the stars?