The musical world is full of things that I never thought would exist in a musical. Some of them were not quite as shocking as others. I responded to each of those things differently than some others. I developed a vision for what a musical should be like growing up which is a comedy full of innocence, spectacle, dance, color, fun sets and costumes, and positive and negative emotions. That was all that I had known, but now that I am older, musicals have gained some shocking things.
The first one is that sad musicals actually exist. I am still not fully used to this fact yet especially because they were not with me since the beginning. The crazy thing about this is that it seems as if I should have figured this out in high school because that was when I found out about at least two sad musicals, but crazily enough it did not cross my mind that they actually would end up being tragic. However the sad shows were beneficial to the happy musicals. It gave them a bigger vulnerability and it gave me a new perspective on musicals.
I remember back in 2012, I started listening to songs from “Rent” through Pandora and fell in love without realizing it would turn out to be a sad show and I figured that out in 2013 after listening to the songs a good amount of times. “Rent” was not the most shocking musical regarding the sad musicals especially because I fell in love with it through the songs.
I first heard about “Les Mis” in 2009 with the famous Susan Boyle “I Dreamed a Dream” thing and I had no idea what the title meant or what that song was about. I went to see the movie in December of 2012 without knowing it was going to be so tragic. I realized it was tragic right after the first death and I did not know how to cope and my mind went into shock and that emotion covered up the rest of the emotions. By the end of the movie, I was thinking “did I just like a tragedy?” I could not tell whether or not I actually liked it, but for some odd reason I went straight to researching the musical and decided to give the movie one more chance. At least the second time was easier, which made me fell the emotions on a deeper way. By that point, I already have listened to the songs a couple of times on Pandora and have already looked up information about the time period. “Les Mis” was the musical that taught me that there is more to tragedy than sadness. But than again, most musicals are happy.
There is more than one thing about “Les Mis” that is surprising to the world of musicals. One of them is what some of the songs are about and I was shocked to discover that some musical songs are about death and I did learn to love the death scenes. It introduced me to musical emotions I never thought would actually exist which includes uncomfortable. “Les Mis” has been so meaningful because of what it is taught me and what it has helped me overcome. “Les Mis” teaches you how you can raise above your background and how to stand up for what you believe in. It teaches how to thrive in difficult situations.This musical was a shocker turned inspiration. The fact is each time I see the musical, it becomes more inspirational and becomes less sad. I see it as a story about humanity, hope, sacrifice, love, compassion, forgiveness, and redemption even though it still has multiple deaths and lots of suffering. It shows what it means to be human and shows a strong vulnerability.
Another surprising thing about musicals is that there is a tragicomic character. He is Don Quixote from “Man of La Mancha”. I discovered that last year and I was trying to figure out how a character can be both. I had to look up what it means to be tragic and what it means to be comic. The main reason why this character is important is because he is tragicomic.
Sometimes a musical can be similar to what you were used to growing up, but adds a new layer to the same image. For instance, in Pippin it has a circus element, which allows the cast to break the fourth wall. You see people on the trapeze, flipping, balancing acts, and juggling. It also allows you to sing-along to one of the songs. In that song, they put the words up to the chorus. That is a kind of spectacle I never associated with musicals.
Musicals continue to surprise me and I know shocking things will continue to happen in the future. But I still have the same view I had growing up. By using the view I had growing up, I am able to know if I discover something I never would of thought about. Because I developed a passion for musicals in college, I am having more fun discovering what I musical is capable of. That is a big reason why I love musicals. Because the characters can range from comic, dramatic, romantic, tragi-romantic, tragicomic, and tragic, it is difficult to interpret all of them. I said tragi-romantic to refer to the romantic character in tragic love stories, which includes a tragic love story in a musical comedy. The characters also live in different places in different times, have different personalities, and different lives. There is something more fun about discovering the emotional and vulnerable characters and these characters tend to be multi-layered. Also the shows with these characters always have sources of light and dark.