Survival of the Human Spirit

But as servants of God we have commended ourselves in every way: through great endurance, in afflictions, hardships, calamities, beatings, imprisonments, rites, labors, sleepless nights, hunger, by purity, knowledge, patience, kindness, holiness of spirit, genuine love, truthful speech, and the power of God; with the weapons of righteousness for the right hand and for the left, in honor and dishonor, in ill repute and good repute

-2 Corinthians 6: 4-7

While reading the bible for class yesterday, I came across this scripture and it perfectly explains what it means to be human. It connects to this idea of the human spirit because it talks about despite hardships and suffering in life, God’s power would allow us to thrive in those kind of situations. Humans are very vulnerable and can easily get hurt, but if you trust in the Lord, the sufferings and hardships will be easier to deal with. This passage talks about despite hardships and sufferings, there is always knowledge, patience, holiness of spirit, strong love, truthful speech and the power of God. Life is a precious gift that can easily get wasted away. We have to understand why suffering exists and part of that reason is to let God’s glory shine through us.

This entire concept of the human spirit in this particular passage fully reminded me of “Les Mis”. That musical is filled with multiple hardships, misery, and death, but each character manages to thrive even if they are not always happy with their life. On top of the suffering, there is also compassion, hope, humanity, sacrifice, forgiveness, and redemption. These two concepts of suffering and spirituality make “Les Mis” what it is. The way in which these two concepts come together in the show is something special. Both of them show up in the prologue. The suffering starts in the opening, but at the same time, the convicts are talking about how God does not seem to be in their life. That is the first time we hear about God, but the first time that spirituality truly shows up is in the bishop scene. Throughout the show, the candlesticks that the bishop gave Valjean represent compassion, forgiveness, and hope, and they remind Valjean of the kindness the bishop showed him. Even at the death scenes, there is a sense of spirituality because most of the characters do not die alone, but are with someone who gives them comfort and compassion. I think this is why “Les Mis” is about the survival of the human spirit. It shows how people manage to thrive in a broken society and shows how vulnerable humans are.

Because “Les Mis” is about the survival of the human spirit, it truly makes sense why the musical moves people at such a deep level because the human spirit lives deep in us and the human spirit truly touches the heart. Because life is dealing with the human spirit so much, people are able to connect and relate to the story.

Discovering “Les Mis” through the Bible

As a way of figuring out why “Les Mis” is inspirational, I always find lines in the bible that represent what the show is. I know that the musical is very sad, but it is important for me to know why the show is as inspirational as it because it makes the experience even better. It is a story of sacrifice, love, forgiveness, humanity, compassion, hope, and redemption.

“For the spirit searches everything, even the depths of God. For what human being knows what is truly human except the human spirt that it within?”- 1 Corinthians 2:10-11

I found that passage in the bible yesterday and made me connect to “Les Mis”. The show is ultimately about the survival of the human spirit. When I first saw that on the “Les Mis” page, I did not know what that truly meant. When I saw that, I really had to figure out the survival of the human spirit means. I think that phrase can mean a number of things. In my opinion, the survival of the human spirit is how to thrive in life no matter what. The human spirit lives in everyone and it is about how to keep that spirit alive. It refers to what  it means to be human and “Les Mis” truly represents that.

“Les Mis” takes place during a very dark time in France. It takes place after the the French Revolution and France was still recovering from that. During this time period, there were multiple rebellions and revolutions, an unstable government, and lots of injustice and misery. All of this is reflected in “Les Mis” at some point. Jean Valjean faces injustice for an unfair sentence in jail just for stealing a loaf of bread. He got sentenced for five years and fourteen extra for trying to escape. Than there is the unfair treatment of women during that time period, which is shown through the tragic character of Fantine, who went on a downward spiral after she got fired all because she an illegitimate child, which sounds unfair. The rebellion situation was shown through Enjorlas and the students when they started a uprising after a death of a very important man in the government. In addition, you see the condition of the poor during songs such as “At the End of the Day” and the second version of “Look Down”.

“Les Mis” speaks directly to the soul, which is why the emotions are as strong as they are. The musical teaches you what it means to be human and how you can rise above your background. This is shown through characters such as Jean Valjean and Eponine. Jean Valjean was released from prison with a hardened heart and was filled with so much anger and hatred toward society. No one would give him a chance because he was an ex-convict but was taken in by a compassionate bishop, who taught him the ways of the Lord and after this Valjean reflects on his current situation and decides to become a better person even if it means breaking parole. Time passes and he is now a successful businessman and is filled with so much spirituality, compassion, and kindness. He shows compassion towards the poor especially towards Fantine. By the end of the story, Valjean has become like a saint.

Even Eponine rose above her background, which is quite surprising considering who her parents are. The Thenardiers are Eponine’s parents and they are greedy, abusive, cruel, and mean. Once the family descends into poverty, they start mistreating Eponine more and they turn into criminals. But somehow, Eponine does not grow up to be like her parents. She does not want to be involved in her parent’s schemes, but she has to in order to survive. It was through her love for Marius that allows her to not be like her parent’s. She puts his needs first before her own even if it hurts her more and more because the love is unrequited.

Another quote in the bible that represents the show is “those who have walked in darkness have seen a great light”. This is very similar to the lyrics “even the darkest night will end and the sun will rise”. The musical has a sense of hope in it even though it is always hard to find. There is hope when you see people rising above their backgrounds and through the students.

There are several times in the musical where God is mentioned, which starts in the opening song. The thing I love about “Les Mis” is how inspirational it is despite the show being depressing. Because you see the characters thriving in difficult situations, it gives you hope for your life. It touches your soul in a way that is very inspirational and that feeling makes you want to continue watching the musical. It is hard to believe I can learn about this musical through the bible. But it does make sense because the show has a large connection to spirituality and there are perfect passages, which represent the show. In fact, the more I learn about it, the more inspirational the show gets and the less sad it appears. It will always be tragic in my eyes because there will always be the death and the misery, but in desperate times, there is still compassion.This show has meant so much to me and has impacted me in ways that I never thought possible.

“To love another person is to see the face of God”- Les Mis

The Most Meaningful Musical Emotions

In my opinion, certain musical emotions stand out more than anything. There are five main musicals that I have seen develop for as long as I can remember. They tie musicals together and make feeling all the different emotions worth it. Musicals are known for being emotional, which allows you to feel like you are going on a journey with the characters. The emotional nature of musicals also makes you feel connected to the material. The songs, characters, and plot must all work together to create an amazing musical.

The five main emotions are excitement, joy, love, sad, and heartbreak. These five emotions stand out more than anything. I have seen them develop in ways that I never would have imagined. The emotions that stood out growing up were excitement, joy, love,and sad. The crazy thing about sad is that I only connected to one sad song, which was “I’m Not That Girl” from Wicked. Because of that, it felt like it was the only sad song, and yet I still knew it was a common emotion. Heartbreak is a part of that song, but took me a while to find that emotion in that song. Sad and heartbreak are the slowest growing emotions from that list. But they have truly become real emotions instead of being limited and weak like they once were.

All because of “Les Mis”, sad and heartbreak got the amazing opportunity to be filled with so much truth, insight, and depth. “Les Mis” is filled with a lot of sadness and heartbreak and they truly captivate you and allow you to develop a strong empathy for the characters. Before that musical, I never cried during a musical song and I only felt sad at the surface and it was growing at a snail’s pace.

Now, the negative emotions are growing at a more steady rate.The first time I saw the movie of “Les Mis”, I was not that affected, but something told me I had to learn more about the musical and see the movie again. It was when I saw the movie for the second that the tears started, but now I react to the show more than ever. I say that sad and heartbreak are meaningful emotions because they are very common emotions and show up in multiple musicals. Sad is a part of so many musicals and the ones that have it are the more emotional, vulnerable ones even if sad is part of just one song. Understanding sad and heartbreak are tough, but they are better than ever. I feel so thankful that I am more connected to those emotions these days instead of how I felt them in the past. But sad and heartbreak are not the strongest emotions because there are some musicals where heartbreak does not exist and where sad is not present at all.

Heartbreak is the main source of sad in musicals. Musicals are covered with several deaths, unrequited love, abuse, prostitution, and other heartbreaking things.If it was not for the tragic musicals, I may not have been able to uncover the dark side of comedies. The thing I love about the heartbreaking songs is how beautiful they are and how they become meaningful even if it hurts to feel that emotion. Unrequited love is a huge source of heartbreak in musicals. Characters like Elphaba, Phantom, and Eponine go through unrequited love and they all respond differently. Heartbreak is always present in death no matter what even if a character’s death scene is their happiest moment of their life.

Excitement, joy, and love are the strongest and most important musical emotions. They grow at a faster rate than sad and heartbreak do. The initial emotion in all musicals is excitement due to the overture and because of that excitement helps drive a show to where it is supposed to be. Love is a very common emotion as well and when I think of love, I think of romantic love.

That is the main source of love in musicals, but there are other kinds of love in musicals. There is friend love, country love,  parent love, and above all, there is the love someone has for a show. The strongest source of love is very important because it allows you to appreciate the different emotions. The thing I love about joy is how it is present in the negative emotions and how it never gives up. Even when you are watching a sad moment, joy stays with you and allows you to love that kind of emotion.

These five emotions must work together in order to make an experience worth it. I prefer musicals that have excitement,  joy, love, and sad in it. Those are the more emotional and vulnerable musicals and are more human. However, you still need a balance, which is why I love the pure fun musicals. They do not have to deal with sad and heartbreak because those emotions are not there. I will always see musicals through joy no matter what.

Joy is the only emotion that can tie musicals together and makes them stronger. The joy, love, and excitement I have for a musical are stronger than any emotion. As much as sad and heartbreak repeat themselves, they do not have the ability to tie musicals together just because most musicals are comedies and due to the fact that they are not always present.

The other musical emotions sprout from the five emotions, which shows how important those five mean so much. Whenever sad and heartbreak grow, joy, love and excitement grow and become better. But there are times when I have seen joy, love and excitement grow and do not rely on sad. I will always rely on these five emotions and look forward to see how they will change in the future.

Musical Capability

It is very difficult to describe what a musical is capable of because they are always changing even if you are not aware of them. I only know this because of experience and I am aware of how the emotions can change over time and get stronger and deeper. I have an idea of what a musical should be like, but at the same time I do not mind if a show is quite different than what I have in mind. In my mind, a musical should be a comedy with spectacle, dance, and positive and negative emotions. That was my view growing up because that was all I basically knew. Sometimes you know more about an emotion that you think you know and sometimes know more about a character than you think you know.

As far as the emotions are concerned, the main emotions are joy, love, and sad. The other emotions sprout from them. Those emotions are at the center of musicals and growing up I was aware of how stronger joy and love were than sad. Sad was just that emotion that had to develop at a snail’s pace and I was happy that it was a very basic emotion and was felt at the surface. However, I was connected to sad just through one song and that was “I’m Not That Girl” from “Wicked”. “Wicked” was that musical that started everything. It was the first show I saw on Broadway and was the show when the emotions started mattering to me. It was the moment when I started to accept sad as an emotion. Soon everything I knew about musicals was about to be tested.

It is hard to describe what the biggest change in musicals has been in the college years. Some of the differences are more obvious than then others. The comedies had to go through a lot of changes because growing up all musicals were comedies. I wanted musicals to stay that way. I called all musicals happy and full of life. But I realized I had to change what all musicals were. It surprised me when those comedies had to change to most musicals just because of tragic musicals. I was bit shocked that tragic musicals actually existed, but they added so much to what a musical is capable of.

The tragic musical that had the most impact on my life was “Les Mis”. That musical changed everything and taught me a lot. It showed me to love tragedy and that tragedies are more than just being sad. It taught me you should never judge a show based off of genre and that plot mattered more. “Les Mis” changed my perspective on musicals because it tested everything that I thought I knew about musicals.  It showed how a musical can still be incredible without all the different spectacle and dance. It is just not one of those musicals because it experiments with elements that are not traditionally associated with musicals.

The score of “Les Mis” is quite different as well. The score inspires me and takes you through so many emotions ranging from excitement to uplifting to love to hope to heartbreak to fear to anger to depressing.  “Phantom of the Opera” also tested what I knew about musical scores. Both “Phantom” and “Les Mis” have scores that are quite different than a lot of musicals. “Phantom” has an emotion that is not usually part of other musicals and that emotion would be haunting and the songs are not very high energy.

Because of shows like “Les Mis”, I had to find a new way to describe all musicals. I wanted to stay true to the comedies that I grow up with and not leave out the tragedies. I knew it would be harder than I thought to come up with something. I ended up replacing happy with joyful because I looked to the experience and tried to see if the sad musicals had a positive nature of it. Now I describe all musicals as joyful, emotional, unique, and full of life. Full of life used to represent a certain kind of song, but I soon realized all songs are full of life because the story comes alive when you see a musical. Songs are even full of life when the song is about death.

Emotional clearly works because the emotions are all over the place and range from show to show and even if you see the same musical more than once, new emotions will enter and some will leave, but the main ones will remain. Unique is fitting because all musicals are different from each other even if some are not that different from others. “Les Mis” and “Phantom” prove this because of how quite different they are. Some people think musicals are very unrealistic, but I do not think they are. Just because people break out into song in musicals does not mean the show in unrealistic. I have nothing wrong with the spectacle as well because it adds to the experience and transports you to the where a show takes place. Musicals are a wonderful mixture of comic and tragic elements, which are present in both happy and sad musicals.

Musicals are very special to me because they truly taught me empathy. One of the musical characters is a role model to me because I admire her strength despite all the discrimination she faces. The fact that Elphaba and I share a lot in common, it allows me to connect to her story. I cannot relate to everything about her but I admire how strong she is.  Characters are all over the place in musicals because they have different lives and go through different things. While some have harder lives than others and while some have easier lives, it is nice having a mixture. There are more to comic characters than I have had thought. Some of the comic characters like Glinda have hurt and pain in their lives and play such an important part of the storyline.

Than there are the tragic characters, and those characters can be even harder to understand, but in a way they are easier to develop an empathy for. Some of my favorite musical characters are tragic, but it is sad and heartbreaking to see what they had to go through. But I care about them and want to feel their pain and hurt because it makes me feel like I am part of the show. Besides Elphaba, I love many other characters as well such as Glinda, Fiyero, Eponine, Enjorlas and Jean Valjean. Another thing to mention is that sometimes unexpected characters show up. That would be the character of Don Quixote in “Man of La Mancha” because he is both tragic and comic, which sounds unusual for a character and quite odd. I had gotten so used to tragic and comic elements coming together as separately but never in the same character. To understand that, I clearly had to understand what it means to be a comic character and what it means to be a tragic character. Surprisingly I understood more clearly what it means to be a tragic character, which made no sense to me at all.

Overall my vision of a musical is that it must have a storyline and songs that I connect to. I want a musical score to move me and I prefer a score that has both positive and negative emotions because those scores add so much texture and emotions to the experience. Shows that have positive and negative emotions are the most human and are mainly present in shows that have multilayered characters along with a plot. I want to feel the emotions and at the same time have a connection to the material. I understand now why musicals are capable of more than you think because you never know when something out of the blue happens. Certain kinds of spectacle and dance can appear which can surprise you. One example is through “Pippin” because it shows a kind of spectacle that I never thought possible, which would be circus and the audience is asked to sing along to one of the songs. Musicals are capable of more emotions than I believed and I discovered that recently and I am so thankful for the changes that took place recently. Not only did old emotions strengthen and deepen, new emotions started to appear. Some of those new emotions are just layers of emotions that already existed.

At the very heart of musicals are the emotions of joy, love, and sad. Earlier I said that the other emotions sprout from them and that joy and love are stronger than sad. That is true and I have a good reason for saying so. For instance, excitement is a kind of joy that is always present. Excitement is always the initial emotion due to the overture. The initial emotion is what would drive the rest of the show. Love is harder to explain what emotions sprout from it, but I do understand there are different types of love in musicals. They range from friend love, parent love, country love, and the most obvious romantic love-which includes unrequited love. The fact that unrequited love exists in musicals shows why love connects to sad. Because unrequited love is very painful and heartbreaking, than it shows that there is sadness in love.

However the strongest kind of love in musicals is the love a fan has of the show. The love and joy that a shows gives you is the strongest emotion and it is the emotion that allows you to appreciate the different emotions. The emotions in a musical must all work with each other to truly become something unique and must feel like they belong in the same show. Sad is an emotion that grows slower than joy and love, but it is quite an unique emotion. It seems like it is the most layered and complex emotion, but it is not. Joy is more layered than sad is because joy is the emotion that allows sad to be appreciated.

Growing up, sad was very limited and for a lack of better words-“weak”. It was like it did not want to truly become a musical emotion but at least I had kind of a connection to it. That emotion just decided to explode when I fell in love with “Les Mis”. All because of that musical, sad become much more real and more empathetic. Sad is a very beautiful emotion and somehow manages to inspire you and draws you into the show. Heartbreak is the main source of sad in musicals in my opinion, which is a huge part of “Les Mis” because it is a heartbreaking musical, but at the same time is so uplifting. Understanding how joy, love, and sad work with each other in musicals is so complicated. Some shows just do not sad as an emotion that much while others do.

In the future, I want most musicals to stay comedies. In addition, I want more tragic musicals to exist. I love the mixture because having both adds so much truth and depth to what a musical is capable of. But the most important aspect of musical is connecting to the material through song. Even though I love the dance and spectacle world, I still want to see musicals that may not have those elements.

The nontraditional musicals makes you think of musical in a fresh light and teaches you how you can still love a musical even if elements such as dance and spectacle do not exist.To wrap things up, I am glad musicals have become what they are. All because of the introduction of tragic musicals, comedies are more developed and the emotions have become more meaningful because of it. Understanding musicals a whole means understanding the impact of both and they rely on each other in ways that I never would have thought possible. They bond through joy and excitement and that is a special thing. It is difficult loving the tragic musicals but they are so worth it.

Benefits of Musical Theatre

Benefits of Musical Theatre

How is musical theatre beneficial? I never thought about why musical theatre has been such an important part of my life. Growing up, I know that seeing a musical is very special. I was fully aware that they have a strong emotional connection to them. But I never thought about why they have their benefits.

Now that I am older, I have put more thought into that question. I believe that theatre teaches empathy. Musicals teach empathy because they are filled with so many emotions. There are some things I have never gone through that are a part of musical theatre such as unrequited love. I have never personally felt unrequited love but I have felt it due to characters like Elphaba, Glinda, Phantom, and Eponine. These characters either go through that heartbreak either for a short period of time or throughout their entire life. Seeing how they respond to that kind of heartbreak shows how far people will go for love.

Empathy is hard to learn, but musicals can teach you that. Through the different journeys musical characters have gone, I can develop a sense of empathy. Musicals have an unique way of emotionally connecting you to the story and you feel what the characters are feeling, which is why you can develop an empathy for them.

They have allowed me to understand emotions in a safe environment. The emotions are all over the place, but when combined, they take you through the whole scale of emotions. Excitement, joy, love, sad, and heartbreak are the main emotions and the other emotions sprout from them. When you emotionally connect to a musical and you are loving it, than joy will always be with you.

When you care about what happens to the characters, you want to feel their emotions and go on the journey with them. Death is one of the main components of musicals and there are songs about them. That is a hard concept to get used to, but I learned to love those scenes. Sad is that kind of emotion that cannot sit alone and the only way to adjust to that emotion is to have it increase bit by bit. That emotion needs some sort of support to get used to it and that support tends to be a positive emotion.

Musicals teach you about history because they can led you to researching information about the time period. I Learned a lot about 19th century France because I was interested in learning more about “Les Mis” and “Phantom of the Opera”. Musicals show how certain themes of the past are still relevant today. Those are themes such as injustice, racism, death, unrequited love, humanity, friendship, and family. I know there is more to learn from musicals. Learning about society connects to history as well. They introduced me to parts about society that I never knew existed such as prostitution and that is a difficult topic to have in musicals. Watching “Lovely Ladies” makes me feel uncomfortable, but I learned to tolerate it because I understand why it is in the show. Les Mis shows how society treats criminals, which is usually unfair because they are treated poorly, which can change who a person really is.