Because yesterday’s blog focused on the happy musicals, I thought it would be interesting to look at the sad musicals. While most musicals are happy, the sad musicals have played such a very important part in musical theatre. They have been successful despite the fact that they are not the happiest of shows. They are in the minority of musicals, but they play such a big role. I never thought that sad musicals would exist, but so glad that they do. They gave me a new perspective on musicals and made me think of the emotions differently.
I cannot think of that many sad musicals and I have not seen all of them quite yet. The ones I am familiar with are “Miss Saigon”, “West Side Story”, “Rent”, and “Les Mis”. “Phantom of the Opera” can fit with the sad musicals, but I have never seen the Phantom as the main character, but the show is close enough to being sad. Out of all these, I have the least amount of experience with “Miss Saigon” because I have not seen it yet, but I do know it is a tragic love story that takes place during the Vietnam War and that it has a strong bond with “Les Mis”. I recently have listened to two of its songs and I liked those songs. Even though I do not have much experience with that one, it still is important to mention.
“West Side Story” is a modern retelling of “Romeo and Juliet”. That show has been quite a reluctant musical only because of what it is based off of. That was silly, but I like it enough to get the music. That has played some impact in my life, but is not a meaningful musical.”West Side Story” was the first tragic musical in musical theatre history. It is an old classic and tells the tragic story through dance. I want to see this show on stage eventually to see if I can fix this relationship with it. I still cannot decide if I like it or love it. It is in the middle of both, but I am slowly loving the songs more and more.
It is “Les Mis” and “Rent” that are meaningful to me. The characters in those two have difficult lives, but they find a way to live through it. “Rent” takes place during the huge HIV/ AIDS epidemic and yet they still try to live in the moment instead of living the past. The show is dealing with controversial topics, but I still love it. I love its message of No Day But Today.
“Les Mis” is the most meaningful of the sad musicals and also the best of them. That musical showed me that tragedies can be loved. “Les Mis” may be the saddest of the musicals, but it is the most inspirational. It pushed the emotions I thought I knew in a different direction. They added layers to existing emotions and through the show, I discovered new emotions. The hardest emotion to feel in this musical is uncomfortable, but I learned to tolerate it.
I discovered that I can love a death scene, which is quite surprising especially if you love death scenes of favorite characters. The show is a gigantic emotional roller coaster because it has several emotions and you feel connected to the material. The show has an inspiration connection because the show is covered with elements of sacrifice, hope, humanity, compassion, love, forgiveness, and ultimately redemption. The first time I experienced the show, I had a hard time with the emotions and as a result, shock covered them up. But my soul wanted more of the musical and I soon started to love it more and more. This show has been running in the West End for thirty years and has had tremendous impact on the history of musicals. It showed how a musical can still be brilliant and not be filled with all of the dance and spectacle. The success of “Les Mis” is quite surprising considering what the title means. The show is covered in misery and lots of death, but yet there is something it that makes people go on an experience that is worth it.
Despite the rareness of these musicals, they still are big. I am aware of their success and how much of an impact they had on musical theatre. I still cannot believe they are still a fresh part of my life. I fell in love with “Rent” four years ago, which is the same year I watched “Les Mis” for the first time, even though I first discovered the musical in 2009. Soon in 2014, I watched the movie of “West Side Story”. I only have seen one of these live on stage, which is “Les Mis”. In fact, if it wasn’t for the sad musicals, the emotions in the happy musicals may not have shifted. Because of the sad musicals, the negative emotions are much more visible in them. Talking about the sad musicals can be difficult at times, but are so worth it. Every successful musical plays a huge part in what a musical is capable of. Despite these sad musicals, I know that I can call all musicals joyful due to the experience and trying to find the positive nature of the sad musicals. For instance the core of “Rent” is life and the core of “Les Mis” is humanity.