This is a very hard post to write. In my opinion, I feel like all musicals rely on each other. It is hard to exactly explain why, but as a musical fanatic I can understand that. Musicals do a wonderful job of balancing each other in the best way possible. The past couple of days, I needed to say I love both simple and complex musicals.
When it comes to the simple musicals, they are the ones where the emotional nature truly begins. Some of them honestly don’t have the need to even have those negative emotions because the plot is truly wonderful without them. Shows like Singing in The Rain are pure fun and you need to view them in a very entertaining way. These simple musicals even show traces of sad and heartbreak. Cats for instance is a very simple musical but the character of Grizabella is a very heartbreaking character and her song, Memory, is heartbreaking. That is the only instance as far as I know where an entire song is heartbreaking in a very simple musical.
The complex musicals are the musicals where the negative emotions are just natural. These are shows like Wicked, Newsies, Lion King, Phantom of the Opera and Les Mis. They all have to deal with songs that are either sad or even worse heartbreaking. All of the musicals I just listed have heartbreak in their songs.
Wicked has the bittersweet “For Good”, the heartbreaking and insightful “I’m Not That Girl” and the frustrating and angry “No Good Deed” and it is one of the happy musicals. Wicked is one way I can explain why musicals depend on each other. Wicked was how I started to understand the emotional nature of musicals. Before Wicked, I feel like musicals were more about the dance and spectacle instead of the emotions. One of the biggest reasons why I started to understand the emotional side of musicals in Wicked was because I was 12 so I was at the right age to have a better understanding of the emotions and it was the first musical I saw on Broadway.
Well fast forward to the time of Les Mis. Growing up, all musicals were happy and comedic and there were the four main emotions of excitement, love, joy, and sad. I didn’t even know what heartbreak meant for a musical. Les Mis comes along and tests me on the emotional knowledge that I had recently learned. It showed me that musicals have more emotional potential than I once believed. It was how I realized that there are heartbreaking songs in the world of musicals. For example, Les Mis has songs like On My Own, I Dreamed a Dream, Empty Chairs at Empty Tables, A Little Fall of Rain and Come to Me and all of those songs are heartbreakers.
Here is a perfect example of why musicals rely on each other. Look at I’m Not That Girl. It started out as being just a sad song, which stayed that way for seven years. I saw Wicked for the 3rd time in 2013 and that song still stayed just sad. Growing up, I spent more time on Wicked’s story of friendship over the youthful and complicated love triangle.
I don’t remember when it was, but there was a time when I realized I’m Not That Girl and On My Own were both about unrequited love. At that time, I already knew On My Own was heartbreaking and through that connection, I was able to understand that I’m Not That Girl was heartbreaking. Even though both are unrequited love songs, they still vary in emotional strength, vulnerability and fragility.
In I’m Not That Girl, Elphaba just found out she loves Fiyero literally moments before she sings that song, which is why that song cannot be fully heartbreaking. I cannot be 100% vulnerable in that song or you lose the innocence that Elphaba has at that moment. Another reason it isn’t fully heartbreaking is because Elphaba’s story doesn’t revolve around unrequited love.
As in the case of On My Own, the love that Eponine has for Marius is so much stronger and even more heartbreaking than Elphaba’s situation. You have to understand why Eponine loves Marius so much in order to understand On My Own. Eponine is a Thenardier and she was raised in an abusive situation and was unloved and neglected by her parents. She was raised to be a criminal. In this burst of light, Marius entered Eponine’s life and was the only person who ever showed her kindness, which is a big reason why her unrequited love is so heartbreaking and painful. Through the example shown by these songs, it is a nice example of why all musicals depend on each other.
I feel like with Les Mis in my life, it makes it much easier to find the negative emotions in new musicals. I can spot darkness and negative emotions much quicker. I even can find negative emotions in the most unexpected of places. When you start finding parallels between certain songs, you can find a way to understand the song like in the case of I’m Not That Girl and On My Own. The dependability comes from the fact that musicals need to help balance each other out, which is why there needs to be both simple and complex musicals and why not all musicals have to put up with negative emotions.
Why do you think musicals rely on each other?