What does it mean to be an Emotional Wreck in a Musical?

Yesterday, I watched the 25th anniversary concert film of Les Mis, and I was still an emotional wreck. That wasn’t my first time watching it- I have watched it “I believe over 25 times”. I own that film and the actual movie musical. What does it actually mean to be an emotional wreck watching a musical?

You know those musicals that hit you like a pile of bricks. The phrase “a pile of bricks” means you can’t help but tear up or feel absolutely heartbroken. You can’t help it- and each time you see those musicals, you feel the same way. You are devastated and heartbroken at the same songs and you can’t help but be in tears. That is what I mean by being an emotional wreck. I never have been an emotional wreck until a certain musical entered my life.

In the beginning, I wasn’t an emotional wreck with Les Mis. It was a response I built up over time. Some songs that were heartbreakers were only sad in the beginning- they took a year or so till I realized the truth. “I Dreamed a Dream”, “Come to Me”, “On My Own”, “A Little Fall of Rain”, “Drink With Me”, “Bring Him Home”, and “Empty Chairs at Empty Tables” are songs I am crying during. I have listened to those songs “who knows how many times” and still hit like a pile of bricks. Les Mis makes me the biggest emotional wreck, but it isn’t the only emotional wreck musical that entered my life. I don’t think I will ever be immune to Les Mis.

The closest emotional wreck musical to Les Mis is Rent. Like Les Mis, Rent is meaningful. Rent entered my life extremely close to Les Mis. Songs like “Will I?”, “Your Eyes”, “Life Support”, “I’ll Cover You (Reprise)”, and “Without You” give a similar feel that the Les Mis songs give you. There are other songs that can drive me to tears- but they only have that capability if the musical is seen live- “One Song Glory” and “Rent” are two of two those songs. In 2017 when I saw Rent in person- I was almost as emotional as I usually am in Les Mis.

Miss Saigon was the next level down from Rent. I am emotional in more songs than both Rent and Les Mis. I saw Miss Saigon this year, and like expected, I was in tears or almost in tears during some of the numbers. The song I remember being in tears the most was during “Sun and Moon”- the actor and actress playing Chris and Kim were so good that I did not their relationship to end even though I knew it had to be.

It seems like the emotional wreck musicals exist in tragic musicals or musicals that are almost in that world. Even Phantom of the Opera has that capability. When I saw it back in 2014, I was choked up meaning I was almost in tears.

There are other songs that reduce me to tears- but not found in musicals that make me an emotional wreck. To make me an emotional wreck, it has to found in enough songs.

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My favorite Friendship and Love Triangle in Musical Theatre

There are various types of relationships in musicals. It is mistaken that the main type of relationship is romance- but that is not TRUE. Something equally as strong as romance is friendship. In terms of romance- it can either exist in the form of a couple or the form of a love triangle. What is my favorite friendship and love triangle?

Major Spoilers

Coincidently, my FAVORITE friendship and love triangle is found in the same musical. Both of them are also complex. Which musical am I talking about. My favorite friendship and love triangle are BOTH in Wicked. Wicked’s storyline revolves around a powerful, strong, and beautiful friendship. Let me talk about both of them down below.

Glinda x Fiyero x Elphaba

The love triangle in Wicked revolves around Glinda, Fiyero, and Elphaba. It is not an easy one to understand. It does make you ask a lot of questions. In the beginning, Glinda and Fiyero are a couple leaving Elphaba with unrequited love- later Fiyero leaves Glinda for Elphaba. So, this love triangle has an unrequited love shift. It isn’t straightforward. You want to understand why the plot twist happens.

When you first meet Fiyero, he is a jerk. In that moment, you can tell that Elphaba can’t stand him. You don’t think that she will fall in love with him. It is that moment where it is Glinda and Fiyero. You are not expecting a love triangle to happen. Then in class, when Elphaba sees a scared lion cub in a cage, out of anger, she accidentally casts a spell on the class- but for whatever reason it didn’t affect Fiyero.

The Lion Cub Scene- now, this moment is essential to understanding the plot twist in the love triangle. Fiyero and Elphaba have ran away to help free the lion cub, and if you pay close attention, there are clues- look at the words they are saying and how they they are interacting with each other. It actually looks as if Fiyero does have a crush on Elphaba, but deep down doesn’t seem fully aware of it, and even Elphaba can’t pick up on the crush Fiyero has for her. When Fiyero finally asks, why the spell didn’t affect him, it is that moment when she realizes that she is falling in love with him. In this entire scene- you can tell that he has softened up. “I’m Not That Girl” is actually the first song of the love triangle. Even after this scene, Fiyero can’t stop thinking of this moment- once again another clue.

Another thing I noticed is that Fiyero does have stronger chemistry with Elphaba and a weaker chemistry with Glinda. He defiantly has a crush on Elphaba during his time at Shiz. I really don’t think he is fully aware of it. There still is always something to pick up on- when it comes to Fiyero. Elphaba makes the decision to not pursue Fiyero. In act II, it took hearing rumors spread about Elphaba for Fiyero to realize his true feelings for her. Now, Glinda has unrequited love for Elphaba- that is why there is reprise of “I’m Not That Girl”. She made the same decision Elphaba made- to not steal him away. Elphaba and Fiyero are a more strong and mature couple- they do protect each other- “As Long as Your’e Mine” does show how mature their love for each other. It is their actions after that shows a lot more- Fiyero protected Elphaba from being arrested and Elphaba tried spell after spell after spell to protect Fiyero from getting hurt.

That love triangle makes you question a lot of things. Why the plot twist? Did Fiyero previously have a crush for Elphaba? If so, was he aware of it, or not? Etc. There is a lot to be explored- Fiyero throws a huge curveball into the equation. That is part of what makes him complex- his role in the love triangle. Not only does the love triangle make you question things, I believe it develops in the same way the characters do. It doesn’t fully mature until the characters do- is it me or do others see that way? Wicked’s love triangle is the first one I emotionally bonded with.

Elphaba x Glinda

My favorite friendship is found between Elphaba and Glinda. Both of them are strong, powerful, and complex young women. Wicked is mostly about their friendship- it is beautifully expressed in the song, “For Good”.

When you first meet them, they are extremely reluctant roommates. They hate each other. You do not think they will bond or even become friends. It took a long time till they even became friends. It wasn’t until a school dance that they bonded- they did something for each other there. Elphaba got Glinda into the sorcery program. What the most beautiful thing was that Glinda made Elphaba’s silly dance into something beautiful and magical. For the first time, Elphaba felt accepted. They finally became friends when they went back to their dorm room that night.

Back to the love triangle. Yes, they both loved Fiyero- at some point, they did have unrequited love for him. They still wouldn’t let a boy get in the way of their friendship. There is a reason why Elphaba didn’t pursue Fiyero when Glinda was in relationship with him. She didn’t want to break up her friendship with Glinda. Glinda, when she later had unrequited love for Fiyero, didn’t steal him away from her best friend. That was how they both responded to their unrequited love. I think this love triangle helped strengthen their friendship.

“For Good”- this song explains everything. It is about how much they mean to each other and how they have changed each others lives for the better. It is a very emotional song and it is bittersweet. It is the last time they will ever see each other. It is the most emotional song in the musical. Elphaba had one friend, and Glinda had so many friends, but only one truly mattered. They made each other better people.

All Love Triangles

Major Spoilers:

Jud x Laurey x Curly- I believe this is one of the weak love triangles. It is only easy to tell that Laurey and Curly are in it. So Oklahoma does make it difficult to know there is even a love triangle in the main romance to begin with.

Ali Hakim x Ado Annie x Will Parker – Oklahoma has a 2nd love triangle, which is not as serious as the main one, but is still weak. Just like the first one, you can only pick up on Ado Annie and Will being in it.

Gaston x Belle x Beast- Now, things are much stronger. I never thought about Beauty and the Beast having a love triangle. I just thought it was only a romance between Belle and Beast.

Ellen x Chris x Kim- Now, we defiantly know there is a love triangle. When I first saw Miss Saigon, which was in Feb., I didn’t want Ellen in the picture. I didn’t want Kim and Chris’s relationship to become tragic- it all had to do with my actor and actress. At the end of the musical, I could tell that Chris always loved Kim- even more than Ellen. His reaction to Kim’s death told me that- that cry was heartbreaking.

Phantom x Christine x Raoul- I am one of those Christine and Raoul fans. I do feel for all three of the characters. However, I do not like how Phantom responds to his unrequited love- he does not accept or cope with it. Christine and Raoul are meant to be with other.

Eponine x Marius x Cosette- I also love this love triangle. I love Marius and Cosette. They are so adorable together and help bring hope to the tragedy. Cosette represents hope and light- so it makes sense why she ends up with Marius. These two are my favorite survivors= in particular Marius. Cosette and Eponine are mirrors= Cosette goes from bad to good and Eponine goes from good to bad.

Eponine is my favorite character in the love triangle. I love her strength, bravery, and loyalty to Marius. She may be a Thenardier, but she still has some kind of goodness inside of her. She risks her life several times all because of the deep and strong love for Marius. It may be unrequited, but he is all she has. He is the only person who has shown her kindness. He is the only good thing in her life. Even though she dies at the end, I love how Marius is there.

Look, some people will say the love triangle is silly, some people say Marius should have ended up with Eponine, and some say that Marius is a jerk- I disagree on all of that. Les Mis is so carefully planned out that if you get rid of ONE thing, the entire story falls apart. That is why it is not silly and that is why Marius needed to end up with Cosette. Marius is not a jerk- I have seen him as a brave, compassionate, sweet, kind, and awkward young man. If he wasn’t brave, he wouldn’t have been a revolutionary and gone to fight at the barricade. If he wasn’t kind, Eponine NEVER would have fallen in love with him. If he wasn’t compassionate, he never would have made the decision to stay with Eponine during her death scene=yes, he was devastated, but he stayed with her- that is compassion.

Glinda x Fiyero x Elphaba- Why do you think I put them last? They are my favorite love triangle. This love triangle is the one I emotionally bonded with first, and where I first discovered the concept. It also is the most complex one I discovered. All three characters are complex- yes, all three of complex even though some would say only Glinda and Elphaba are complex. Fiyero is complex as well- his development and his role in the love triangle are why he is a complex character. Unrequited love: well, both Elphaba and Glinda end up with in this love triangle, and they respond by not stealing him away from their best friend. So, the love triangle shows they will not let a boy get in the way of their friendship.

What are other musical theatre love triangles you can think of?

Musicals I do Cry during

Musicals are assumed to be happy and comic. Non-musical fans don’t seem to know about the emotional side of musicals. There are emotional songs in musicals. There are heartbreaking, sad, bittersweet, and love songs in musicals. In addition, there are tragic musicals- tragic musicals are something that I didn’t know about until Les Mis entered my life. Emotional songs can lead you to cry- to even be an emotional wreck (as in multiple songs in the musicals). What are the musicals I have cried during? I decided to make a list of those here- it has changed since the last time I made a post about the same thing.

Sound of Music

  • In November 2015, I had never cried during a song in the musical. I was assuming there was no way Sound of Music could cause me to have the reaction. Enter Edelweiss- it is my favorite song from the musical; the moment Ben Davis, who played the Captain, stopped singing and before the children joined in, I picked up on a nonverbal that made sadness enter that picture. Sad was NEVER a part of Sound of Music in the songs- I was raised on Sound of Music- the movie. I started crying right when the children joined in. Ben Davis’ nonverbal was enough for me to get that reaction. I think it was a combo of the nostalgia, the bittersweetness of the song (which was new that day), and his nonverbal (a pause does hold a lot of power). Sound of Music was my 4th and final musical I saw in 2015, which was still the best year of musical.
"Edelweiss"
Edelweiss

Oliver

  • It was the first time I saw the movie. I didn’t cry for most of the movie. Then came “As Long As He Needs Me”- knowing how heartbreaking that song was- I was in tears listening to that song. Any song that has the words sad and love attached to it are always heartbreaking.
"As Long as He Needs Me" from the movie
As Long As He Needs Me

Wicked

  • Last time I saw Wicked, “For Good” hit me hard. That song is supposed to be more emotional than the heartbreaking “I’m Not That Girl”. I saw an excellent Elphaba (standby Mary Kate Morrissey) and an excellent Glinda (Amanda Jane Copper). Their “For Good” left be in tears- their Elphaba and Glinda mixed with how meaningful Wicked is to me mixed with seeing it with Gardner Webb are huge reasons why “For Good” affected me the way it did. “For Good” represents the center core of Wicked- it is after all about the relationship between Elphaba and Glinda.
"For Good"

Miss Saigon

  • I did a fresh list of this because of Miss Saigon. It is the newest musical to make me cry. Coming in, I knew it would because of Les Mis. The music was written by the same people. If Les Mis affected me so strongly- Miss Saigon would hit me too. When a musical is a tragic love story-you automatically know two of the emotions: love and heartbreak; you can’t escape and you can’t escape the ending either. In a tragic love story, things aren’t going to end well- you don’t want that to happen if you become attached to the two lovers. As for Miss Saigon, I almost cried in “Movie in the Mind”, but the real tears started in “Sun and Moon”, which is when I became attached to Kim and Chris. “Sun and Moon” is when they have fallen in love- Emily Bautista and Anthony Festa made me want those two to stay together, and as a result, did not want it to end tragically. There were other moments I did cry- “Sun and Moon” was the one I remembered the most. They are still a very very new couple I fell in love with- I only saw Miss Saigon in Feb.
"Last Night of the World" during the Miss Saigon North American Tour
“Last Night of the World”

Rent

  • Talk about emotional wreck- Rent is one of those musicals. In 2017, I saw Rent in person for the first time. I knew there were songs, like “Will I?”, and “Your Eyes” that will emotionally affect me, but there were songs that never emotionally affected until I saw Rent. I was a bigger emotional wreck in person than I am with the final Broadway cast film. The power of live theatre- songs like “Rent”, for instance, had an emotional impact on me. I was crying in songs I always cry during- “One Song Glory” was more emotional than it typically is- and so on. I was an emotional wreck watching Rent. I would be an emotional wreck more than once in 2017.

Les Mis

  • Do I have to say more? A lot of Les Mis fans are emotional wrecks watching it. Before Les Mis, I knew about the emotional side of musicals. I knew about the complex side of musicals as well. There were four core emotions I discovered: excitement, love, joy, and sad. I thought I knew musicals- I thought the knew the entire emotional nature, but boy was I so wrong. Les Mis went “are you sure you know musicals, are you sure you know how intense emotions can get in them.” A new core emotion entered the picture: heartbreak. I have been a fan of Les Mis of six years-a love that began with the film (which I had to give a 2nd chance). I never knew emotions get affect me like that-Les Mis sure taught me a lot. It disproved a lot. I still am an emotional wreck- it can be songs alone, can be the stage show, can be the film, and can be the 25th anniversary concert- all cause me to an emotional wreck. Les Mis is the musical I am the biggest emotional wreck during.
"One Day More" during the US Tour of Les Mis
“One Day More”

What makes Wicked’s love triangle hard to Understand?

Major Spoilers

Of all love triangles, Wicked is my favorite love triangle. It is complex, strong, and in addition, the first one I emotionally bonded with. All three characters are complex. Elphaba, Fiyero, and Glinda are complex characters- it is most obvious that Elphaba and Glinda are complex, but not Fiyero. He is complex even though it doesn’t seem that way. Those three characters are the only characters in Wicked that I am emotionally bonded to. Back to the question, what makes Wicked’s love triangle hard to understand?

The answer belongs to Fiyero. Elphaba and Glinda love Fiyero, and at some point in Wicked, both of them have unrequited love for Fiyero. In act I, the unrequited love belongs to Elphaba, and you think, Elphaba would always have unrequited love for him. However, Fiyero realizes in act II that he loves Elphaba making the unrequited love jump to Glinda. Why does this plot twist? Did something happen in act I that is important to Fiyero? There are a lot of things that make you wonder.

There are reasons why you thought Elphaba would always have unrequited love for him. Look at her response for Fiyero when she first met him- she couldn’t stand him- he didn’t make give a good impression. He was a jerk in the beginning. Why would Elphaba fall in love with him? She was the one with the full “I’m Not That Girl” while Glinda got a reprise of “I’m Not That Girl”, which was extremely short. Now, let’s get to Fiyero.

Last time I saw Wicked, I decided to pay really close attention to Fiyero. I did not want to leave the theatre with the “WHY” question again. Fiyero did have a crush on Elphaba at Shiz. Based upon the Lion Cub Scene, he and Elphaba were playfully flirty with each other making me coming to the conclusion that he did have a crush on Elphaba. Despite seeing that, I don’t think he realized he had a crush on Elphaba, and still continued to be in a relationship with Glinda. Elphaba didn’t notice the crush either, however the Lion Cub Scene is when she realized that she was starting to fall in love with him, which made me realize how heartbreaking “I’m Not That Girl” was. By the way, “On My Own” was key to making me realize “I’m Not That Girl” was heartbreaking in the first place- “I’m Not That Girl” used to be just a sad song.

After that scene, his chemistry with Glinda was weak while his chemistry with Elphaba was strong. He couldn’t stop thinking about the Lion Cub incident. This showed he and Glinda weren’t meant to be with each other. If you weren’t paying close attention, you would be extremely confused as to why that plot twist happened.

About Elphaba and Fiyero’s love for each other, it is a mature and courageous couple. It is stronger than the love Fiyero has for Glinda- what if he never was in love with Glinda or had a crush on her? “As Long As You’re Mine” showed the strength and maturity of Elphaba and Fiyero as a couple. Even after that scene, you saw their love for each other. Fiyero protected Elphaba when she was about to be arrested, and when he was about to be tortured, and then Elphaba tried spell after spell to keep him from getting hurt. Elphaba and Fiyero were a young couple that was mature and courageous.

The love triangle develops in the same way the characters do. I noticed the love triangle does not truly mature until the characters do. Have you noticed before. The love triangle does make you question a lot of things- why does the plot twist happen? Did Fiyero have a crush on Elphaba at Shiz? If so, did he know or did he not? See what I mean- it is a hard love triangle to understand.

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 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 makes 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 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

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.