Love in Musicals

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 “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 never 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 in him. Marius was aware she had a difficult life. Just because Marius was unaware of Eponine’s love her him doesn’t 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”

Newsies

  • 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 he has a sun. 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

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 well, 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.

Advertisements

The Hopeful and Heartbreaking Love Triangle

Here we are venturing into the Les Misérables love triangle. It is less complex than the Wicked love triangle. It is between Cosette x Marius x Eponine: in this one Marius and Cosette are the couple while Eponine has the unrequited love. It is one of the major storylines that I am emotionally connected to. Of everyone in the love triangle, Eponine is my favorite character.

MAJOR SPOILERS:

I will start by bringing up Eponine and Cosette’s childhood. At one point both Eponine and Cosette lived together. Eponine’s parents are the Thenardiers, who abuse Cosette and treat her like a servant. Eponine, on the other hand, is spoiled and appeared to be loved by her parents. Then Valjean arrives and rescues Cosette.

You already know the Thenardiers are abusive. In “Master of the House”, you learn that they also are pickpockets. You start to get a general idea of the environment Eponine is going to grow up in. You already know Cosette is going to have a better life. So the girls situations are reversed- while Cosette’s horrible childhood improves; Eponine’s life gets worse. That is one of the things that intrigues me- the switch that happens between the girls.

Eponine’s family ends up living in extreme poverty. Eponine’s parents have raised her to be a thief and criminal. You realize they do not care or love their daughter. They just use her for their advantage. She serves as watchdog for the law. She wasn’t shown kindness growing up- it never happens to her. That never happened- it eventually did happen- Marius was the only person who treated her with kindness. The kindness that Marius showed her made her fall in love with him. I am glad he was in her life- she needed Marius even though he didn’t love her romantically. Soon enough, Marius and Cosette bump into each other and fall in love with each other. Eponine is well aware that the two have fallen in love.

Eponine’s unrequited love for Marius is quite heartbreaking and painful. After all, he is the only good thing in her life. Despite that, she is the girl who would do anything for him. She risked her life several times for him no matter the cost. She ended up finding Cosette for him when he asked her to. She ended up protecting Marius and Cosette from her father and his gang. Her love for Marius is so strong that she ended up sacrificing her life for him. At least in the end, she died in the arms of Marius= at least she was with him. Her death scene was the happiest moment of her life.

I love Marius and Cosette as a couple. They are the ones who help bring hope to this tragedy. Marius had to survive the rebellion in order to keep hope alive. They are such an adorable couple in so many ways. Both of these characters are so sweet and kind. In the end, although they lost so many important people in their lives, at least they still have each other. Marius was the only survivor from the the barricade and Cosette lost her adopted father.

The love triangle offers a lot. I love all three characters. Yes, Eponine is my favorite character in the love triangle, but of all three Marius is my favorite survivor. I have never found the love triangle to be silly. Even though I understand that Marius and Eponine are not friends, but neighbors in the book, I love that their friendship is in the musical.

A Little Fall of Rain Analysis (Part 2)

MAJOR SPOILERS:

I have done an analysis on this song before. To understand this song is to understand Eponine. Before I describe what is going on in this song, I will talk about Eponine. Eponine is the eldest child of the Thenardiers. The Thenardiers have raised Eponine to be a thief and criminal. The family is living in extreme poverty. Eponine is all alone in life, and wasn’t shown kindness or love growing up from her family- so her life is quite dark and tragic.

There is only one good thing in her life- Marius. He is the only person who does treat her with kindness. That is why she loves him. However, he doesn’t know she loves him. He falls in love with Cosette. She will do anything for him. So she lives an empty life, but the light of her life is Marius so at least he is in her life.

Samantha Barks as Eponine performing "On My Own" in the movie
“On My Own” in the movie

Back to “A Little Fall of Rain”. In the stage show, a few scenes back, Marius has sent her away from the barricade in hopes to protect her from being hurt or worse killed. However Eponine does come back, which all leads to “A Little Fall of Rain”. She sacrifices her life to protect Marius from being killed. As a result, she was fatally wounded. Marius does not realize this at first, but soon does after she collapsed in his arms.

"A Little Fall of Rain": Marius and Eponine's duet from Les Mis. Eponine's death scene where Marius is with her until she dies. From the movie
“A Little Fall of Rain” scene from movie

Marius was devastated- he knew she was dying, but decided to stay with her. “A Little Fall of Rain” is a very touching, heartbreaking, and bittersweet song. By understanding how much Marius means to Eponine makes you understand why Eponine is happy in that scene- it does not make sense all because it is her death scene. It does show he truly did care, and how much compassion he was capable of. You feel heartbroken for both of them. In that scene, I am heartbroken that one of my favorite characters is dying, but at the same time feel joy for her knowing that Marius is there- she is comforted by him, and at the same time I feel heartbroken for Marius knowing how much pain he feels. It is hard watching that scene knowing that Marius is not going to just lose Eponine, but everyone else as well.

This song highlights the friendship quite well. It shows how Marius valued his friendship with her. Eponine was able to see that Marius did care about her. She knew in this scene that Marius was breaking, and this is when Eponine confessed that she loved him. After she died, he said to the students, “her name was Eponine, her life was cold and dark, yet she was unafraid”. He knew she lived a dark and horrible life- at least he was with at her at the time of her death. Having him end the song alone is devastating- thinking about the rest of the trauma he has to go through.

At one point, I thought a musical song could never happen during a death scene. This scene sure proves that wrong. What are your thoughts on this song?

The Core Musical Theatre Emotions

Musical theatre is home to core emotions. There are five of them, but there was not always five. From middle school to the first half of my first year college, there was four core emotions. In elementary school, there was less than four core emotions. 

What are the five core emotions? They are excitement, joy, love, sad, and heartbreak. The other emotions that exist in musicals sprout from those emotions. Some core emotions combine together such as heartbreak and love and sad. Love is part of joy. Love- that is confusing- that can either be joy or heartbreaking- it depends on the scenario. 

The core emotions are extremely important. Those are emotions that exist in a musical theatre song. There are more than five emotions in musical theatre. Without the five core emotions, the rest of the emotions may not exist. Emotions like loneliness and anger sprout from heartbreak, love and sadness.  I never knew I was blind to heartbreak growing up until Les Mis entered my life. There is a difference between songs being sad and songs being heartbreaking. 

The core musical theatre emotions are the main root that a musical theatre song is. The other emotions in a song come from the main emotion. Do you understand what I mean. The core emotions are excitement, love, joy, sad, and heartbreak. Excitement is the emotion that always shows up in dance and spectacle. Joy shows up in happy scenes, bittersweet scenes, and whether or not if you are having a positive experience. 

Heartbreaking Songs

To continue on yesterday’s heartbreaking love songs, today I thought I would talk about ALL heartbreaking songs. I was 100% blind to heartbreak before my first year of college, but I did know about the emotion of sad. So at least I knew about sad- one of the emotions part of heartbreak. Heartbreak is basically a more devastating form of sad. What are the other emotions associated with heartbreak? The ones I have found are anger, guilt, and loneliness among others. Heartbreak can hit you like a pile of breaks and can reduce you to tears. So now here is a list of the heartbreaking musical theatre songs.

  1. I’m Not That Girl 
  2. On My Own 
  3. I Dreamed a Dream 
  4. Come to Me 
  5. Empty Chairs at Empty Tables 
  6. Drink With Me 
  7. A Little Fall of Rain 
  8. Bring Him Home
  9. All I Ask Of You (Reprise)
  10. Wishing You Were Somehow Here Again 
  11. If I Can’t Love Her 
  12. If I Can’t Love Her (Reprise) 
  13. Evermore 
  14. Endless Night 
  15. Letter From the Refuge
  16. This Nearly Was Mine 
  17. Somewhere
  18. Will I
  19. Your Eyes 
  20. Without You 
  21. Memory
  22. As Long As He Needs Me

These heartbreaking songs come from a number of musicals- Wicked, Newsies, Les Mis, Lion King, West Side Story, Beauty and the Beast, Rent, and Cats. Some of these songs are more devastating than others. Some of them hit me harder than others. Some hit me like a pile of bricks, and some don’t. Some of them make me tear up while others don’t.  Heartbreak is one of the most beautiful emotions in musical theatre and one of the strongest. 

Heartbreaking Love Songs

If a musical theatre song is both a love and sad song, it will ALWAYS be heartbreaking. That is always the truth- that’s for sure. These songs can be ironic or non-ironic. Those songs fall under unrequited love songs, breakup songs, or if the plot is a tragic love story. What are examples of these songs? Below I will list some of those songs. 

  1. I’m Not That Girl/ I’m Not That Girl (Reprise)
  2. On My Own 
  3. Somewhere 
  4. As Long As He Needs Me 
  5. This Nearly Was Mine 
  6. If I Can’t Love Her/ If I Can’t Love Her (Reprise) 
  7. Evermore
  8. All I Ask Of You (Reprise) 

I’m Not That Girl was the FIRST heartbreaking love song I was emotionally connected to, but was sad in the beginning. I never called I’m Not That Girl a sad love song- I never combined emotions together- I called it sad. On My Own, just like I’m Not That Girl, began as a sad song, but after a year I realized it was heartbreaking- On My Own was key to realizing I’m Not That Girl was heartbreaking. As a matter of fact, On My Own made me realize all sad love songs were heartbreaking. The heartbreaking love songs have a combination of emotions- they can be home to sad, anger, and loneliness: it depends on the song and the actor and actress who is playing the character. Some of those heartbreaking love songs are much more heartbreaking than others: for instance, On My Own is more heartbreaking than I’m Not That Girl. 

Spoilers: 

It sounds crazy how some of them are ironic- that means the love situation improves in the end or you don’t expect the character to sing it. I’m Not That Girl is the best example- after all the unrequited love shifts from Elphaba to Glinda, which is why the song is sung twice. In addition, the spell gets broken in Beauty and the Beast, which makes If I Can’t Love Her/ If I Can’t Love Her (Reprise), and Evermore ironic. The same situation happens with This Nearly Was Mine because Nellie goes back to Emelie in the end. 

Non ironic- that means the situation NEVER improves in the end. That would mean that character might have unrequited love the entire time. In Les Mis, Eponine has unrequited love for Marius till the end of her journey in Les Mis- she does have a tragic ending, but at the same time, her fate is touching and moving and is home to joy. Eponine’s fate is death, but she gets to die in the arms of Marius after getting shot- that is where the joy comes from. So On My Own is not ironic at all. So the heartbreaking love songs are both ironic and non-ironic. 

The heartbreaking love songs are some of the most beautiful songs in musical theatre. They are fragile, vulnerable, and some of them are home to innocence. It just depends on the character and how much they love the person they are in love with at that point in the story.