Sympathy and Empathy in Musicals

The word sympathy reminds me of musicals. A musical has the advantage of song to make you feel for the characters. They want you to feel empathy for the characters, but sometimes all you can feel sympathy for them especially if you are feeling for a character you don’t like.

The emotions the actors are played to the audience makes the audience feel what the character is feeling. In my eyes, I feel like the characters personally know everyone in the audience and are comfortable with sharing their emotions to the audience even if they are not willing to share it to the other characters.

Some musical emotions are hard to feel and are tough. You don’t want the characters to go through what they are going through at times, but you still learn to care about them and they end up living in you. The negative emotions are the best example of feeling sympathy and eventually empathy for them. I don’t mind feeling the negative emotions especially if I fall in love with the sad and heartbreaking songs and fall in love with the character and plot because you feel like you are ingrained into the plot and when that happens, you end up having a positive experience.

What makes the songs make you feel for the characters? Well, for starters, songs are usually more powerful than words alone. Sometimes a musical’s use of crescendos makes a song feel strong and powerful, which is a very unique thing to see. The crescendo makes you see just how strong a character is and that can make you feel the emotions the song is trying to convey. There are key changes when it comes to a crescendo. Songs like “On My Own”, “One Day More”, “Defying Gravity” among others have a use of crescendos and crescendos help with emotions a lot. It lifts the song and makes a song even more powerful.

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I feel like the melody shows the nature of the emotions. A slow and quiet song is how you end up feeling love and the sad or heartbreaking songs fit under that category as well. “I’m Not That Girl” is an unrequited love song, but because the melody stays consistent throughout, it  shows that Elphaba’s love for Fiyero is not that strong at that point in the story. But with the case of “On My Own”, which is another unrequited love song, the melody which has this whole introduction shows just dark and empty Eponine’s life is and when that sudden key changes after “all I see is him and me forever and forever”,  the melody  slowly builds up over time sells how just strong and deep Eponine’s love for Marius is. So melody does play a part in the emotion of the song. The exciting songs have the pattern of starting and suddenly speeds up and that gives you the wow factor that an exciting is supposed to have.

What is your opinion about feeling sympathy and empathy in musicals? Do you like the use of crescendos in musicals? Why you think songs bring out the emotions in the characters better than words alone?

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Crescendo

Sad/Heartbreaking Musical Songs That are Not Love Songs

In today’s post, I will write a list of sad and heartbreaking songs that are not love songs. For the purposes of this post, love will refer to romance.

  1. Letter From the Refuge
  2. Drink With Me
  3. Santa Fe
  4. Javert’s Suicide
  5. Wishing You Were Somehow Here Again
  6. Come to Me
  7. Finale/Do You Hear the People Sing
  8. Empty Chairs at Empty Tables
  9. Memory
  10. Bring Him Home
  11. Will I
  12. At the End of the Day
  13. Both Look Downs
  14. One Song Glory
  15. Lovely Ladies

Any other heartbreaking songs that are not romantic love songs

My Feelings On Death in Musicals

I have mixed feelings when it comes to a death in a musical. The ones that have existed have been either bizarre or funny, constantly overlooked, or memorable and emotional. The thing is growing up I always thought a death would always not be interesting or even worth it. I did see musicals where a character did die growing up, but those kept on being overlooked or I completely forgot what happened in the musical.

For a warning: this will be a spoiler heavy post

For starters, musical deaths can be overlooked. One of the most overlooked deaths comes from a musical I have seen live four times. Wicked has a death involved in it, but I always overlook it all the time. Nessa, Elphaba’s sister dies in act II after a house lands on her after a tornado. I know it happens, but to this day, I still overlook it, which is kind of odd because I have such a personal bond to Elphaba so why would I overlook what happens to her sister? But then again, all do you is hear about her death, not exactly watch it, which is why I might be overlooking it and I keep on being so involved in the friendship story and the love triangle story of Fiyero, Elphaba, and Glinda and as a result, I keep on forgetting about things that happen to both Boq and Nessa.

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So, I just called some musical deaths bizarre and funny. How in the world can you call a death bizarre or even funny, which sounds a bit ironic. Well, the musical, Little Shop of Horrors, does have the antagonist of a man-eating plant so it does eat characters throughout the show. Just watching the plant eat certain characters is funny and in a way quite bizarre because this musical has some of the most unrealistic deaths ever. I find it funny seeing both Orin and Mr. Mushnik fed to the plant.

In the stage show, Audrey and Seymour are eaten by the plant too, but in the movie they are not. So I don’t know what to think when it comes to both of their deaths. Of the entire musical, those are the only two characters I love. When I saw Little Shop of Horrors this year, I wanted to cry at Audrey’s death, but I didn’t. Seymour ran into the shop and saw Audrey about to be eaten by the plant and did pull her out, but the plant did fatally wound her and a reprise of “Somewhere That’s Green” is sung and she dies in Seymour’s arms and in the end after she died, Seymour did feed her to the plant. I wanted to yell at the plant constantly throughout the musical. Still I don’t know how to describe Seymour and Audrey when it comes to death when they die in the stage show and live in the movie, which makes no sense to me one bit.

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When I saw Man of La Mancha in 2015, I already knew there was going to be a death in the musical due to a Spanish project I recently completed. I learned that Don Quixote is a tragicomic character and I knew he was going to die in the story. When I saw that scene, I remember crying. But I have seen some deaths that are more memorable than his.

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So far the most memorable and emotional deaths come from the same musical. Les Mis has some of the most memorable deaths ever. It does have a high death toll in it, which is hard to get used to at first. There is something about Les Mis that makes me really care about these characters. Most of these characters do not die alone, but they are with someone at the time of their death, which gives them joy, peace, and comfort and sometimes shown compassion. These deaths have made me get emotional and have even reduced me to tears due to the love I love at the songs that happen at their deaths and the relationship I have created to the characters.

Fantine is the first to die in Les Mis and she dies of sickness. She dies with Valjean by her side. Valjean shows compassion in two ways: 1) he stays with her till she dies and 2) he promises to raise her daughter, Cosette as his own. Good thing there is a big gap between her death and the second one. Fantine dies early in the first act, but you don’t get another death until act II, which is when the barricades are. “Come to Me” does play a role her death being memorable.

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The second character to die is Eponine and she gets to die, despite being shot, in Marius’ arms, the boy she loves, and he ends up showing her compassion by staying with her till she dies even though he is quite heartbroken. Her death is memorable and “A Little Fall of Rain” is a reason why I love this death. It sounds crazy that you actually “love” seeing a favorite character die-well, yes seeing a favorite character die in a musical can be devastating, but I still am moved and touched and I actually am happy in Eponine’s death as well because I am happy seeing her happy for once in her life.

The students and Gavroche die for what they believe in and all of them lose their lives except for Marius, which really shows just how unsuccessful the June Rebellion of 1832 was. Gavroche was just a kid, but he still died for what he believed in. The students stayed passionate even in death.

Javert actually in my opinion has the saddest death because he commits suicide so he is the only character who actually dies alone, but from my point of view, his death is the least memorable and it is hard to feel for Javert throughout his story. I just have a hard time finding common ground with him. But you can find actors who make you care about his journey. The only Javert who has managed to do that even at his suicide scene is my Javert in the West End.

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The last character to lose their life in all of Les Mis belongs to Jean Valjean. He ends up dying with Marius, his now son-in-law and Cosette, his adopted daughter by his side. He truly has become a better person throughout the years. While Valjean dies at least he gets to die in peace and at least he gets to see Cosette one last time. So many characters lose their lives in Les Mis and you feel like you personally get to know them and their deaths are so memorable. Part of it has to do with the songs that are sung as they are dying and part of it has to do with how well you get to know the characters.

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I have many opinions about deaths in musicals. It can be hard to watch a favorite character die especially if you feel like you grow close to them. The overlooked deaths are crazy because I know they happen, but I still overlook those-part of that comes from lack of songs and focusing on a different part of the story when you watch it-that is what I do with Wicked.

I cannot believe I once told myself, A DEATH CAN NEVER BE MEMORABLE-part of why I told myself that is that I couldn’t exactly remember the deaths I had already seen and there were no songs for the deaths to be memorable. I also told myself A MUSICAL SONG CAN NEVER BE ABOUT DEATH.

Turns out Les Mis proved me wrong and I learned that even at a favorite character’s death, you can be touched. It seems as though songs like “A Little of Rain”, “Come to Me”, and “Finale” make those deaths memorable and so worth it and the fact the students die for standing up for what they believe in. The bizarre and funny deaths sounds odd, but that is where the fun of Little Shop of Horrors comes from. Death is just a hard thing to watch in a musical, but Les Mis makes it easy to cope with the deaths due to the songs.

What are your feelings of death in a musical?

Les Mis in a Pot

Last night, my dorm had a pot party. We actually painted the pots. I decided to make my pot a Les Mis-themed plot. But what does my pot have to do with Les Mis? For those not familiar with Les Mis, Les Mis (otherwise known as Les Misérables)  started out as a novel by Victor Hugo and eventually became a highly successful musical.

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On this pot, the red and blue painted on this pot is supposed to represent France. That is due to the fact that red and blue are two colors on the French flag. The red could even signify the June Rebellion of 1832 and love. The polka dots represent the positive and negative nature of Les Mis. The black polka dots represent the tragic nature of Les Mis. The yellow polka dots represent the spirituality of Les Mis. Due to the yellow polka dots shining through and standing out compared to the black dots signifies just how strong the spirituality of Les Mis is. The middle section where you have two lines of yellow really signifies the fact that the spirituality of Les Mis does stand out. The spirituality of Les Mis is important to the heartbreaking nature. The flower planted in the pot signifies the fact that something really beautiful and unique comes out of Les Mis.