It can be quite challenging to describe the darkness the musicals face. Darkness makes a lot more sense in the tragedies then the comedies. I have seen comic and tragic elements in both the tragic and comic musicals along with those that are stuck in the middle.
What makes the darkness such an important part of musicals? Well, from my knowledge the strongest musicals have some kind of hurt or pain. It helps make a musical a lot more human and real. For the longest time, I knew that sad was a musical emotion, but from elementary to high school, I don’t remember how much of that emotion I actually understood. Based upon now, sad was quite limited, but really strong or weak at times.
Some of the darkness I found in musicals range from racism, death, unrequited love, broken dreams, surviver’s quilt, discrimination, child and animal abuse, and prostitution, etc. In fact a lot of the tragic elements found in comedies are very parallel to those found in tragedies. The hardest tragic element to understand is death itself especially in comedies. Some of the comedies with darkness are “South Pacific”, “Wicked”, “Fiddler on the Roof”, “Sound of Music”, “Pippin”, and “Lion King”. Even though tragic musicals do exist, I still associate musicals with comedies.
It is crazy that I still associate musicals with comedies. Well, based on my knowledge, most musicals are comedies and not the other way around. I have learned to fully appreciate the negative emotions through the tragic musicals themselves. In fact, I love not one, but two sad musicals. “Les Mis” and “Rent” are not too depressing because I learned to find the light in each of them. In fact, choosing to view all musicals through the light is one of the best decisions I ever made. By seeing sad musicals through the light, I am able to get more out of them.
I once called “Les Mis” too depressing, but I fully now understand the entire scope of that musical. I realized that the show is very inspirational and I choose to learn why. It is a musical with themes of compassion, hope, love, sacrifice, forgiveness, compassion, humanity, and redemption. It is the spirituality of the show that I relate and connect to. I still have no idea if I can relate to any of the characters. “Les Mis” taught me that musicals are way more then its genre. It is really the full experience that matters. I cannot believe I am saying this, but I never thought I would fall in love with a tragedy and I thought that genre didn’t belong in theatre especially those musicals. I also thought I would not fall in love with a death scene either.
As for “Rent”, I learned that the show is all about how to live life. These characters are scared for their life and don’t know if they are going to live till the next day. The characters live life to the fullest and treat every moment as if its their last. They teach you how precious life is. The message that this musical shows the the show is not too depressing.
It is very hard to understand why the negative emotions are worth feeling. That is due to the fact that they hurt, but it makes sense. When you connect or relate to a musical, you begin to care for the characters and that makes you want to go through the characters’ emotions. In a way, there is great joy and love when feeling sad or heartbroken or something like that. The show always works its magic on you but at the same time you are working the magic on the musical itself. When it comes to those heartbreaking songs, I rarely relate, but can connect. You sort of add joy to the heartbreaking songs because the emotions you are feeling belong to the characters and due to that, what emotions are really yours?
I prefer the more complex musicals then the simple ones. I want those negative emotions to be part of a musical, which sounds ironic. Why would you want to feel that way? If I fall in love with a musical and its songs, then joy, love, and excitement guides you through every single emotion. I am still quite young, but at least I have clearer understanding of the darkness found in musicals. All musicals rely on each other and things have to be balanced. That’s way it makes sense for comedies to have tragic elements. It also makes sense that darkness does not appear in every single musical. It would be way too much for tragic elements to be part of every single musical.