The Importance of Negative Musical Emotions With Joy

Since yesterday, I tried to explain what negative emotions would be without joy, I decided to talk about the complete opposite today. I feel like it is loaded trying to describe why all negative emotions have joy involved.

Joy is a huge reason why I love feeling the negative emotions in a musical. I feel like there are different sides of joy in a musicals. There is your excitement, love, and joy when experiencing a musical and there are the actual moments of joy found within a musical. When I fall in love with a musical song, I tend to fall in love with the emotions themselves and I have joy when I feel sad or heartbreaking songs or bittersweet songs if I love the song itself.

There isn’t a single musical out there with just negative emotions. That just wouldn’t work in the world of musicals. Whether it was South Pacific, Wicked, Man of La Mancha, Beauty and the Beast, Newsies, Phantom of the Opera, West Side Story, Rent, and Les Mis, they all still deal with positive emotions even if they all have to put up with negative emotions. Some of those musicals are happy musicals themselves, some get caught up in the middle, and some are sad themselves.

Look at Les Mis for instance. The negative emotions are constantly being thrown at you. It feels like you all you feel are negative emotions. But if you look closely you can see the positive emotions being aimed at you. Besides, the first emotion you feel tends to happen before the action begins. In Les Mis, the first emotion I feel is excitement. The negative emotions tend to start in the opening scene and there is joy there and that joy is due to me loving the musical. When the bishop scene enters, you feel compassion, hope, and forgiveness.

Possible Spoilers:

Les Mis even has joy and compassion shown at death scenes and the joy would be impossible to spot if you don’t know the characters. One important thing to note about most of the Les Mis deaths is that most of the characters don’t die alone. Valjean is by Fantine’s side when she dies, Eponine is in the arms of Marius when she dies, the students, Gavroche, and Enjolras are around each other when they die, and Valjean dies alongside Cosette and Marius.

But where is the compassion and joy found at these deaths. Well, if you don’t understand Fantine’s love for her daughter and how desperate she is, you may not find the joy in her death. Valjean shows compassion by being with her as she dies. He promises to Fantine  that he will raise her daughter, Cosette, as his own. The fact that Valjean promises to Fantine that he will raise Cosette is why this death happens to be memorable.

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Look at the second death. Once again, joy and compassion is shown at that death. The second death happens on the barricades. Eponine has gotten shot and Marius finds her and holds her in his arms while she dies. You wouldn’t notice the joy in this scene if you don’t understand how much Eponine loves Marius and if you don’t pick up on how dark and miserable and lonely and empty her life is. She is in the arms of the man she loves at her death so she has joy there since she is with Marius. The compassion shown at this scene is that Marius decides to stay with Eponine even though he is quite upset and comforts her and stays brave for her up until her death. This death scene is memorable due to the fact that Eponine is dying in Marius’ arms and that “A Little Fall of Rain” is such a memorable and touching song.

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See what I mean. Even Les Mis, the saddest musical I ever seen, shows that even that musical has room for positive emotions. The trick with sad musicals is they can be hard to love. It can be hard to know whether or not you love their plot.

But with Les Mis, the musical just doesn’t work without the positive emotions. The positive emotions show up through deaths and that does sound surprising. I never would have imagined a musical song could be a death song or that they can be memorable. The positive emotions are just not just limited to the deaths, but also related to some of the actions of the other characters.

Look at songs such as “This Nearly Was Mine”, “Memory”, and “I’m Not That Girl”.  Every single one of them are heartbreaking songs, but I love them. Another bittersweet song is “For Good”, which is the most emotional song from Wicked.  “I’m Not That Girl” began as a sad song and eventually became heartbreaking thanks to “On My Own” and “Memory was a song that I had forgotten the emotion to and realized it was heartbreaking through “I Dreamed a Dream”.

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I love the negative emotions in the world of musicals. I love them the most when they are quite strong and quite truthful as well. The negative emotions don’t grow quite as quickly as the positive emotions. The negative emotions are covered with vulnerability, fragility, innocence at times, insight and truth, and on top of that, there is yourself. You become a character in the musical yourself and you learn to love the negative emotions. The one thing I don’t like about the negative emotions is that I don’t like that the character or characters have to feel the negative emotions or that they have to go through what they are going through

Joy in negative emotions means in a lot of ways means that you have a strong emotional connection to the material. Joy in negative emotions shows acceptance and understanding and a feeling of sympathy and empathy.  It shows you care and it shows that you want to go on the character’s journey. Sometimes you have to search deeper for the negative emotions. They grow at a very steady rate and never grow quickly. Sad and heartbreak are core emotions in the world of musicals and between those two, heartbreak is the newest one. I said that because heartbreak was unknown to me growing up.

Most musicals I have seen are happy musicals and I associate musicals with them all the time. I first discovered sad when I was in middle school, but now in college, I love the negative emotions even more thanks to falling in love with Les Mis and Rent.

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Being a true musical fan means learning how to have joy feeling the negative emotions. You want them to add to a musical experience and not take away from a musical experience. You want to provide you a positive experience and not the other way around. An amazing amount of musicals expresses the negative emotions in at least one song.

How do you view joy in negative emotions?

Musical Character Connection vs Entire Musical Connection

This does sound bizarre, but I do believe there is a difference between an emotional connection to a musical character and an emotional connection to the entire musical. That sounds really bizarre because you would think both mean the same thing, but in reality they really don’t. But sometimes your emotional connection a character is the same thing to an emotional connection to the entire.

Wicked is a musical I have an emotional connection to Elphaba and love Fiyero and Glinda as well. My emotional connection to Elphaba does connect to my emotional connection to the entire show. I don’t have emotional connections to Nessa, Boq, Madmae Morrible, and the Wizard. But I do have an emotional connection to the entire show thanks to my personal relationship with Elphaba and the friendship found between Elphaba and Glinda and the love triangle between Elphaba, Glinda, and Fiyero.

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Even my emotional connection in Newsies is the same thing as my emotional connection to the entire musical. I actually have two emotional connections in this show. I have an intimate relationship found between the friendship between Jack and Crutchie. I even have an emotional connection to all of the Newsies. The story is about the Newsies after all, which is why my emotional connection to the Newsies is the same as my emotional connection to the entire show.

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Even in Beauty and the Beast, I only have emotional connections to Beast and Belle and characters like Lumiere and Cogsworth and Chip and Mrs. Potts. But I don’t have an emotional connection to Gaston. It is more important for me to be emotionally connected to Belle instead of Gaston. Having an emotional connection to Belle and Beast is important because the plot centers around them.

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But can you have an emotional connection to a character, but have zero emotional connection to the actual plot? Yes, that is very possible. I love Anna from King and I, but I am not fully emotionally connected to the entire plot and the show isn’t even meaningful to me. Even in Little Shop of Horrors, I only love Seymour and Audrey, but just don’t have an emotional connection to the plot.

The emotional connections are highly important. Usually the songs are what forms the emotional connection. I feel like you need an emotional connection to both the characters and the plot. True, there some characters I don’t have an emotional connection to in certain musicals. I don’t have an emotional connection to Madame Morrible, the Wizard or like any antagonist or villain, but a few expectations. Honestly, your emotional connection might also have to do with the portrayal of characters.

I don’t have an emotional connection to Javert exactly, but the last time I saw Les Mis live, I found some emotional connection to that character. I honestly have no emotional connection to the Thenardiers either. Despite that, I have an emotional connection to the entire show. I don’t relate to the characters that well in Les Mis, but I do have an emotional connection to Jean Valjean’s story, Fantine’s story, the love triangle found between Eponine, Cosette, and Marius and have an emotional connection to Enjolras, Gavroche and the students. You can’t have an emotional connection to a plot if you don’t have an emotional connection to characters.

The emotional connections are why every scene in a musical has joy in them even in heartbreaking or bittersweet moments. The songs form an emotional connection very easily. I feel like it is important to be emotionally connected to the protagonist’s story and if there are subplots, it is important to be emotionally connected to some of them because they help support the main plot. Having joy in every emotion is connected to the experience and connects to an emotional conation to the plot and characters and the fact that if you care enough about the characters and their journeys, you accept the emotions that you are feeling.

An amazing amount of musicals have some heartbreaking or sad moments. I understand that sad was a main emotion starting in middle school. I wasn’t 100% blind to the negative in those days, but I was 100% blind to heartbreak.

I know this sounds crazy. But there really is a difference between an emotional connection to characters and emotional connection to plot. However they are very interconnected and depend on each other.

Excitement Found in Musicals

Of all musical emotions, excitement is the emotion that hasn’t been changed one bit. Of course, it wasn’t the only main emotion found in the musicals I grew up with. Those other emotions were joy, love, sad. But those three emotions changed a lot over the years especially in the more recent years due to heartbreak being discovered.

I remember growing up and associating musicals with a certain melody. That type of nature belonged to the exciting numbers. Those numbers have a habit of having spectacle or dance involved. Two of the most unique things about musicals are dance and spectacle. Growing up, I referred to the exciting numbers as “full of life”. But now that phrase belongs to an entire musical. Just like songs add something to the experience, so does dance and spectacle.

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Excitement has never once been altered. It is felt exactly the same way as it was felt in my younger years. One of the best parts about the exciting numbers is when the song reaches the point where the melody becomes fast. I have a vision when it comes to musicals and spectacle and dance are part of my vision.

Some shows found with dance or spectacle include Pippin, Newsies, Wicked, Lion King, Beauty and the Beast and Singing in the Rain. I associate the word, showtune, with exciting numbers especially the dance and spectacle numbers. Spectacle has existed in many forms. When I saw Newsies in August, I was looking forward to the dance because the show had Tony Award Winning Choreography and the dance ended up being mind-blowing. I find dance to be a kind of spectacle.

I feel like dance and spectacle helps with believability. In Wicked, the spectacle and dances helps you believe you are in OZ. In Beauty and the Beast, it makes you believe you are in an enchanted castle and the dance and spectacle in Lion King makes you believe you are in the wild of Africa.

There is no way excitement can be altered at all. It still hasn’t gone through a massive change. However, there are some exciting numbers that are not dance or spectacle oriented or have that quick of a melody. “Masquerade” and “One Day More” are two exciting numbers that are different than other exciting numbers. “Masquerade” has the dance and spectacle, but the melody is slow, but still feel exciting. “One Day More” is one of the best act one closers, but that exciting number doesn’t have dance or spectacle and the melody is quite powerful, epic, and passionate. So there are a few expectations to the regular nature of excitement.

Musicals Then and Now

Yesterday’s post, I talked about the musicals from my younger years. In today’s post, I plan to compare and contrast the world of musicals from the musical from my younger years to the musicals from now. When I mean “then”, I am talking about musicals from elementary to high school” and “now” refers to the musicals from 2012 to current.

Then: This world formed the foundation of musicals. All of them were happy and I believed all musicals were happy. There were four main emotions, which were excitement, love, joy, and sad. It consisted of musicals like Wicked, Annie, Sound of Music, Grease, Lion King, Aladdin and Beauty and the Beast. I described all musicals as happy and full of life.

Full of life only referred to the exciting numbers where dance and spectacle existed. In high school, the emotion of sad seemed to stop completely and I felt like it couldn’t be anything else. So in the world of these musicals, musicals were a world of spectacle, dance, comedy, excitement, love, joy, sad, and strong emotional connections.

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Now: The musicals of these days were in a way kind of similar to the musicals of my younger years. It was still a world of spectacle, dance, comedy, strong emotional connections and the same four main emotions. But things took a very unexpected and twisted turn.

I was soon to learn that not all musicals are happy and comic like I once thought I knew. Les Mis entered my life and that title means “the miserable”. Les Mis is a very heartbreaking musical. Heartbreak became a main emotion and I couldn’t interpret it in my younger years. I did not how to respond to the idea of a tragedy existing in the world of musicals.

But I soon realized that tragedies belong in the world of musicals. Just through the added nature of tragedies and the emotion of heartbreak, everything changed so drastically. But yet, still seems kind of similar.

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I was the kind of person who thought that I would always hate tragedies. That was me in high school so I was quite surprised that I love Les Mis. Tragic things happen to all of the Les Mis characters. Jean Valjean lived his life as an ex-convict, Cosette had a horrible childhood, Marius faced lots of trauma at the barricade, Fantine had to become a prostitute to provide for her child, the Thernardiers inn became bankrupt and Eponine faced horrible abuse by her parents and suffered from a strong unrequited love for Marius.

What Les Mis also showed me is that musical emotions have so much potential in them. I realized that musical emotions can be felt so deeply and with so much insight and truth. I soon learned that the negative emotions consist of a sense of fragility and vulnerability. Sometimes you have to dig into an emotion in order to truly understand the emotion of the song. That is true for both positive and negative. There are some inner positive emotions just like there are inner negative emotions.

I didn’t notice the details of sad before Les Mis entered my life. I realized there is more to tragedy than heartbreak. Les Mis is a very inspirational musical because it is ultimately a tale of love, hope, compassion, forgiveness, humanity, sacrifice, and redemption.

Other musicals of these years were Newsies,  Rent, South Pacific, Phantom of the Opera, and Pippin. Rent like Les Mis is a tragic musical. I view musical emotions very differently now. I explore the emotions in a more open and more complex way. I come in knowing that there is a chance that heartbreak will happen.

All because of Les Mis, it is easier for me to detect darkness and negative emotions in new musicals. One way to describe how different musical emotions are is to use Wicked as matter of fact. The unrequited love song, “I’m Not That Girl” began as just a sad song and it eventually became a heartbreaker. “No Good Deed” once felt emotionless, but last year it became a song filled with anger and frustration.

Sad isn’t the only emotion that went through drastic change. The addition of heartbreak affected love and joy. I finally understood the serious side of love, which is its heartbreaking nature. Like I stated above, “I’m Not That Girl” became heartbreaking. It took the unrequited love song, “On My Own” for me to figure that out. “On My Own” is from Les Mis and is about Eponine’s unrequited love for Marius and that is a more extreme and stronger song about unrequited love.

There are even other heartbreaking love songs, which were discovered in the more recent years. Songs like “Somewhere” and “This Nearly Was Mine” are heartbreaking love songs. The song “I Dreamed a Dream” made me realize “Memory” was heartbreaking. Crazy how just one musical emotion can drastically change the world of musicals. Heartbreak which once didn’t exist changed everything.

Major Spoilers:

As far as joy goes, I knew growing up that joy is existent in bittersweet moments. But there are bittersweet moments that are incredibly heartbreaking. One such instance is “A Little Fall of Rain”. It can be quite challenging to understand why there is joy in this heartbreaking moment especially because it is Eponine’s death scene. She just got fatally wounded after returning to the barricades. If you just don’t understand just how dark her life is and if you don’t understand her love for Marius, the joy in this would be nonexistent. She is dying, but she is dying in the arms of the man she loved, which is why this the happiest moment moment of her life.

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I told myself that a death scene could never be memorable, but Les Mis proved me wrong. Eponine’s death scene in my opinion is the best death scene of the entire musical because there is just something special about “A Little Fall of Rain”.

What’s crazy is I love Eponine and you would think the death scene of a favorite character wouldn’t be memorable. Yes, I am devastated and heartbroken, but I am happy as a matter of fact. I am happy that Eponine finally feels extremely happy for the first time.

Just like the earlier years, excitement is felt exactly the same way. It is the one emotion that hasn’t changed at all. New shows come in with spectacle and dance. Pippin is a musical full of circus elements and Newsies is full of mind-blowing. The same level of excitement is still present. It hasn’t changed one bit.

So the musicals of younger years are a world of dance, spectacle, comedy, strong emotional connections, excitement, love, joy, and sad. I described all musicals as as happy and full of life. Full of life only referred to the exciting numbers.

Now, musicals are a world of dance, spectacle, comic and tragic moments,  strong emotional connections, excitement, love, joy, sad, and heartbreak.  Not only are there happy and comic musicals, there are also sad and tragic musicals with some getting caught in the middle. Those words are almost identical to the words I once used. Than again, the musicals of my younger fears formed a foundation of the musicals today. Now I call all musicals joyful, unique, emotional, and full of life. Full of life now refers to the entire show as in the story comes to life.

Dependability of Musicals

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?

Importance of the Orchestra in a Musical

Before I start this post, I want to say that this blog has reached 150 followers and my goal is to get 500 by the end of the year.

The orchestra is something I have not actually described on this blog yet. The orchestra in my opinion almost seems like a character in a musical. The orchestra actually opens up a musical, which is why the first emotion that I feel is excitement and joy. The opening of a musical is always an overture of sorts. The orchestra gets you all pumped up and ready to feel all the different emotions. The orchestra is one of the biggest reasons why feeling the positive and negative emotions are worth it.

The orchestra is the main driving force of a musical because when the orchestra starts playing, you get excited about listening to another musical number. The melody in a musical is just as important as the lyrics.

I love hearing the orchestra play while an actor is singing because the singing voice and the orchestra are a wonderful mix. Even the melody of a song can explain a lot about the actual emotion of a song. If a song is slow, it tends to be either a sad or heartbreak or even a love song. If the orchestra starts out slow and than speeds up, the song tends to be an exciting number.

Describing the importance of the orchestra is quite tricky. But the orchestra is just as important as the story, characters, and the songs. The songs are driven through the orchestra.

Core of Musicals

What is at the very core of musicals? What makes them so enjoyable to watch?

Musicals are a very joyful, unique, and emotional world. They know how to make you find pleasure in all the emotions you feel. There are five main emotions, which are excitement, love, joy, sad and heartbreak. But of all of those joy, love, and excitement are the strongest. I am not saying not that negative emotions are worth less than the positive emotions.

Excitement, joy, and love are not just naturally part of a musical itself. They are also part of the actual experience of seeing the musical. I feel like all musicals literally depend on each other. I know why they depend on each other, but even I cannot explain the reason. But I can explain part of why they depend on each other. Growing up, I was just learning about what makes a musical a “musical”. They were a world of comedy, spectacle and dance, an emotional world of excitement, love, joy, and sad, and a world of emotional connections.

Once Wicked entered my life, I began to realize that there is an emotional side to musicals. At that point, it wasn’t just spectacle and dance that mattered to me in a musical. Musicals began to be more about the emotions. By the end of high school, all musicals were still happy and there was still the same four main emotions of excitement, love, joy, and sad. I remember really loving the exciting songs and that is the emotion I remember the most from those years. I associated musicals with songs like “Dancing Through Life”, “Do-Re-Mi” and any song that were like those. So the musicals I grew up with provided a framework for musicals.

Than 2012 came along and musicals  drastically changed. It was December and the moment I saw that Les Mis movie, I was super confused and didn’t know how to respond to a heartbreaking musical. It wasn’t something I was used to and didn’t actually accept the fact that tragic musicals existed that time around. Sometime in March of 2013, I accepted those tragic musicals. Les Mis was how I discovered a fifth main emotion, which was heartbreak. Les Mis’ emotional impact went above and beyond what I thought musical emotions could do. Through the realization of heartbreak, I started to realize that it was much easier to find the darkness and negative emotions of other musicals. So everything I just said sort of explains why all musicals depend on each other.

All of the musicals I call meaningful help shape musicals the best. Whether that is Sound of Music, Annie, Wicked, Newsies, Music Man, Beauty and the Beast, Lion King, Aladdin, Les Mis  or even Pippin, they  all shape musicals into what they are. Through their spectacle, dance, comic and tragic moments, wonderful storylines and songs and characters, they all help shape a musical. Their emotional worlds vary a lot and even I cannot explain that.

But even today, I still associate musicals with comedies. The very heart of musicals is why I get so much joy, love, and excitement from watching them. They know how to emotionally connect you and know how to allow you to find pleasure feeling both positive and negative emotions. For me, I sort of feel like the songs are at the heart of a musical even though everything else is also at the heart. But without songs that you appreciate and love, there is no way you can actually enjoy watching a musical. Because musical songs are so story-telling oriented, it allows you to truly care about the characters in a musical. Since different characters sing all the different songs in a musical, I associate songs with different characters. So whenever I listen to a musical song, I am no longer feeling my own emotions, but the actual characters. If you are feeling the characters’ emotions while watching a musical, what exactly are your own?

I still feel like the positive emotions are stronger than the negative emotions. They are in every single musical while the negative emotions are not. The simple shows are more likely to not have the negative emotions due to having less conflict than the complex musicals. The positive emotions are not just naturally part of the musical itself, but they also are coming from yourself.

Those negative emotions can be hard to work with, but I know through experience just how beautiful and wonderful those emotions really are. They are hard to work with because they hurt and that varies a lot as well. It has varying levels of fragility, vulnerability, strength, power, and even those emotions have an epic and heart-wrenching quality to them.

What do you think is at the very core of a musical?

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