There is romance and friendship in live theater, but another type of love shown in live theater is the love found in families. I feel like family love can easily be overlooked. There are BOTH loving and unloving families in the theater community. What I want to focus on today are the loving families.
Belle and Maurice
Valjean and Cosette
Annie and Daddy Warbucks
Simba and Mufasa
Think of any other good family relationships in musical theatre?
There are a lot of duets in musicals- but they are NOT just dealing with romance. This post will be a list of duets that are only sung by one male and one female- so some of my favorite duets will be left off. The list will not be in a specific order- as in ranking.
A Little Fall of Rain
Come to Me
No Matter What
Something to Believe In
I Should Tell You
Till There Was You
Sixteen Going on Seventeen
As Long as Your’e Mine
Light My Candle
Phantom of the Opera
A Whole New World
All I Ask of You
One Hand, One Heart
The Last Night of the World
Sun and Moon
A lot of male/female duets are romance numbers. At the same time, there are a couple that don’t belong to romance- some are them relate to family, friendship, and death.
The other day I was asked what the top three spiritual themes I connect to in Les Mis the most. That is kind of a hard question because they all seem to connect.
One of Les Mis’ most famous quotes is “to love another person is to see the face of God”. Love shows up in various ways in Les Mis. Now that I think of it, love seems to one of Les Mis’ strongest spiritual themes. What are the forms of love in Les Mis?
Fantine and Cosette- Cosette is Fantine’s daughter. Fantine is a struggling single mother- Cosette’s biological father abandoned both of them. At the time period, it is dangerous to have an illegitimate child. Fantine was desperate for the care of Cosette- she left Cosette in the care of the Thenardiers (little did she know how poorly they would treat her daughter). She did end up working at Valjean’s factory- soon enough, she got fired after the factory women find out about Cosette. She had to sell her hair, her locket, and eventually herself to provide for Cosette. She cared more for her daughter than herself. She had hopes her daughter would have a better life than she had.
Valjean and Cosette- Valjean became Cosette’s adopted father after her mother died. Valjean promised Fantine he would raise Cosette. Cosette was the first person he loved after leaving prison. Cosette never knew love, but Valjean gave that to her
Love for God
The Bishop- the Bishop did love God. He was able to welcome Valjean into his home. He provided Valjean with a meal and a place to sleep. He was showing Valjean compassion. After Valjean stole the Bishop’s silver, he was able to forgive, show mercy and grace. The Bishop told the police that Valjean didn’t steal the silver, but that he gave it to him- the Bishop provided Valjean with the candlesticks.
Valjean- Valjean lived by the example the Bishop showed him. It is why he was able to help Fantine. It was why he was able to become a better person. His love for God was clearly shown during “Bring Him Home”. His love for God is why he was able to do all the things he did after he broke parole- it was why he able to forgive Javert.
Enjolras and the Students- their bond is so tight that you can see them as a family. They have this brotherly connection to each other. They are so passionate about their cause especially Enjolras, their leader. They never lose their passion- even in the end.
Eponine and Marius- their friendship is not in the book- but it does exist in the musical. It is an unpopular opinion, but I do like their friendship. Marius is the only person in Eponine’s life who treats her kindly- this was the reason why she fell in love with him. He was all she had. He knew her life was tough. People say “I don’t like how Marius treated Eponine”. Here’s the thing- I don’t see that. Here’s how I see Marius- he is sweet, kind, brave, awkward, compassionate, and a revolutionary. Just because he asked Eponine to find Cosette for him does not him rude. Let’s go to act II- at the beginning of it, I believe he sent her away with that letter to Cosette to protect her from the uprising in hopes that she will not get hurt or worse killed. However, she did come back- she did get shot- her wound was fatal. Once Marius realized she was shot, and that her wound was fatal, he was devastated. Despite breaking, he stayed with her- he held her and comforted her- that is compassion- I don’t understand how people can’t see that. Do you know how I knew that Marius knew how dark her life was- it was the words he said after she died- “her name was Eponine. Her life was cold and dark. Yet she was unafraid.” If he wasn’t capable of so much compassion- Marius would have left her to die alone. “A Little Fall of Rain” is the most intimate moment Marius and Eponine have.
This exists through a love triangle- Marius x Eponine x Cosette. Marius and Cosette fall in love while Eponine is stuck with unrequited love. The love Marius and Cosette have for each other brings hope to this tragedy. Cosette is supposed to represent hope and light. Cosette life goes from bad to good while Eponine’s life goes from good to bad- those two characters are mirrors of each other. Of all the characters in the love triangle, it is Eponine I love the most- but I still love Marius and Cosette. It is Eponine, who would do anything for Marius no matter the cost- even if that means sacrificing her life for him. If it wasn’t for Eponine, Marius and Cosette never would have ended up together. Marius and Cosette are perfect for each other. The love triangle is so effective that you end up feeling for all three of them- for instance, during “A Heart Full of Love”- it starts out as a duet between Marius and Cosette, and later Eponine joins in- so you are feeling for all three of them.
So when it comes to love, I think the types of love that speaks to me the most are love for God, love for friends, love for family, and romance. I think I also can add love for a country- which is part of Enjolras and the students’ love for each other.
Sacrifice connects to love. The love the characters have leads them to sacrifice their lives. Fantine’s love for Cosette eventually is why she gets deathly ill. Enjolras’ and the students’ love for the country is why they sacrifice their lives. Eponine’s love for Marius is why she gives up her life for him- when she sees him about to get shot, she takes the fatal shot herself. Valjean’s love for Cosette leads him to the barricade to make sure Marius lives.
There is hope for many of the characters, which also seems to connect to the love theme as well. Fantine has hope for her daughter. Eponine’s light is Marius, the boy she falls in love with. Enjolras and the students have hope for the cause they believe in because of their love for their country. Marius and Cosette’s love for each other brings hope to the story. Valjean’s hope is initially through the bishop and later through Cosette, which does lead him to protect Marius.
I could have included more spiritual themes. Love seems to be the main overarching theme in Les Mis. It connects to many other spiritual themes. People constantly associate love to romance. But, love is not just romance- in Les Mis, it goes way way beyond- love for friends, family, God and the country. The underlying spirituality in Les Mis is why Les Mis goes beyond its tragic nature.
Love is found in musicals. Is love only in romance? Does it exist in different ways? There is a common misconception in love that non-musical fanatics believe-it is believed that only love is romance. I will try to sort out that in this post. THERE WILL BE MAJOR SPOILERS IN THIS POST.
Love for God
In Les Mis, you see love for God. This is first see through the bishop, and later through Valjean. The bishop welcomes Valjean into his house, gives him a place to stay, food to eat, and see as a brother (as in the bible). The bishop wants to help Valjean. He forgives Valjean when he steals his silver. He tells me to use the silver to became a better man. What the bishop does is an act of grace, mercy, and compassion. All of this is a love of God .
The love of God is later strengthened through Valjean. He looks up to the bishop. He starts to show compassion to others, which is especially shown through how he treats Fantine. He prevents her from being arrested and later promises to raise Cosette, Fantine’s daughter, as his own. That takes his love for God on a whole new level. I think his love for God is shown the strongest when he sings “Bring Him Home”. “Bring Him Home” happens at the barricade- Valjean is there to protect Marius because his adopted daughter loves him. The song is a prayer sent to God to prevent Marius from being killed. Even as Valjean is dying, it does show his love for God.
Love for Friends
This is easier to notice than love for God.
Elphaba and Glinda
When I think of friendship love, it is Elphaba and Glinda that comes to mind automatically. After all, in Wicked, the story revolves around their friendship. These two young girls originally started out hating each other and eventually became best friends and soon realized how much they changed each others lives for the better. They did form a very close and beautiful bond to each other- that is exactly what “For Good” shows.
Friends of the ABC
The Friends of the ABC is another love for friends that I love. I love their brotherly love for each other. It is strong that they are like family, and I do love how they take in Gavroche. They have a cause they truly believe in, and are so passionate about in that they will fight to the end no matter the cost. One of the things I love about “Drink With Me” is how intimate and vulnerable it is- it really shows their brotherly love for other.
Eponine and Marius
There is a friendship in Les Mis that I like that is an unpopular opinion. It is the one found between Marius and Eponine- yes, I know it is only in the musical, and not the book. I don’t believe Marius was a jerk to Eponine. He was the only person in her life who treated her kindly- that was why she fell in love with him, and why she held on to him. Marius was aware she had a difficult life. Just because Marius was unaware of Eponine’s love for him does not make him a jerk. I believe in act II, Marius sent her away with that letter to protect her from getting hurt or worse killed during the uprising. When she came back to the barricade, Marius was worried. When she collapsed in his arms, the moment he saw her wound, he realized she was dying. He was devastated, but he still stayed with her to the end- how does Marius being with her while she was dying make him a jerk? I believe that Marius was showing her compassion while she was dying- that scene was difficult on Marius, but at least he made her happy. The reason why I know he knew how difficult her life was had to do with what he said after she died- “her name was Eponine, her life was cold and dark, yet she was unafraid”
The Newsies are a huge parallel to the Friends of the ABC. Just like them, share a brotherly love that makes them a family, have a cause they truly believe in and don’t give up till the end. I also love Jack’s intimate and special bond to Crutchie.
Lumiere and Cogworth
I don’t what it is, but there is something about Lumiere and Cogsworth that make them an interesting friendship. Is it because during most of the musical they are a talking candle and clock?
So, you see, love for friendships show up for a number of shows.
Love for Family
Fantine and Cosette
Fantine is the single mother of Cosette. Fantine’s storyline is the hardest to watch in Les Mis. She originally is working in Valjean’s factory. It soon is discovered that she has an illegitimate daughter- Cosette’s father abandoned both of them. Cosette is now living with an innkeeper and his wife (The Thenardiers). Her daughter was discovered through a letter, which was said that Cosette was deathly ill (little did she know the letter was a hoax). The other factory women pushed the foreman to fire her, and he did. She did not many options left to get money for Cosette. She had a strong love for Cosette- she had no choice, but to sell her hair, teeth, and to eventually become a prostitute. By living on the streets, she became deathly ill. She was doing everything out of love for Cosette and her only hope was that Cosette would have a better life. She eventually almost got arrested after defending herself- Valjean came to the rescue and sent to her the hospital. Even on her deathbed, she still was concerned about Cosette, and Valjean agreed to raise Cosette. This gave Fantine peace and comfort while she was dying.
Valjean and Cosette
Like I just said, Valjean became Cosette’s adopted father. Valjean did realize that Cosette was treated poorly by the people who were raising her. Cosette was the first person he loved since he was released from prison. He had to become a father in the most unexpected of ways. It was challenging to raise her due to being an ex-convict. I don’t blame him for how much he sheltered and protected Cosette. You can fully see his love for Cosette in act II. When he learned Marius, the one his adopted daughter loves, is one of the revolutionaries, he went to the barricades to make sure he survives.
Kim and Tam
Kim would protect Tam from any harm. She is a fighter for him. She wants him to a better life than the one in Vietnam. Tam’s father is Chris, and Chris is who Kim loves, and for a couple years Chris had no idea he fathered a son. Chris did love Kim at one point. Miss Saigon is a tragic love story, and Kim is the main character. At the end, Kim sacrifices herself in order for Chris to take Tam back to America. That ending- Chris comes to a realization- he has always loved Kim, and more than Ellen; that was how I interpreted it in Feb.
Romance is believed to be the only type of love in musical theatre. But based on the other ones I mentioned, it is not. There is love for God, love for friends, and love for family- I can tell you there are others- just the three I mentioned tells you there are is there than romance. Romance is wide-ranged. The Disney couples to the complex couple to the love triangles (even those vary). All of the couples are different. Why is romance so common? For starters, it is an universal emotion. It also translates well to song, forms beautiful songs no matter what (whether a couple is singing it, if it is a breakup or unrequited love song, or if a couple is starting to develop feelings for each other). The main song is key to a couple- if the main song doesn’t impress me, the couple goes dull.
So far on this blog series, I talked about why I love Jack and Crutchie, two of the Newsies. I have never yet said why I love a group, but they do count on this series.
Jack is the leader of the Manhattan Newsies and really cares about them. He has a close bond to Crutchie. Jack and Crutchie are my favorite of all the Newsies. Their relationship is part of why I love the Newsies in the first place.
The Newsies are like this one big family. They have such a brotherly love for each each other. All they have is each other and really look up to Jack. A lot of them are homeless or runaways and rely on selling newspapers to survive but Davey and Les are the only two who have a family of their own. So eventually they band together and go on strike after the price of papers went up.
They never give up even though eventually Jack struggles with his emotions and Crutchie, the most vulnerable, gets sent to the Refuge. It is their bond especially the Jack and Crutchie bond that makes me emotionally connected to these characters. Their inspiring story of standing up for what you believe in is a huge reason why I love Newsies.