Sad Shows- The Right Way

Well, there are both sad books along with those in the theatre world. To me, there is a wrong way and a right way to feel during those type of stories. This will focus on plays, operas, and musicals. Growing up, I was blind to sad musicals and opera, but starting in 9th grade- I discovered tragedies. I actually interpreted them wrong- I was thinking “pure sad”. Now a lot has changed. I can truly show the difference between two sad shows that exist.

I actually saw BOTH #8 and Les Mis the same year. However, there is a HUGE difference. That year was 2015- that was an exciting year. Gardner Webb, Chicago, and the Bristol Pilgrimage happened that year. My family went up two days early to England just to get used to the time difference and to get more out of London. July 30th was exciting in more ways than one: saw Les Mis in The West End, a dream come true. I thought it was incredible that while my mom and I were seeing Les Mis, my dad and sister got their own date. I actually thought it was fitting that I saw Les Mis due to it being Valjean’s spiritual journey, and the next day starting my own.


Well, this show takes place during the Holocaust. Ushers were dressed up as Nazis and you did see pictures from the concentration camps during the show. I was so uncomfortable that I badly wanted to leave the theatre, but couldn’t due to being a required show. It basically felt like watching “Lovely Ladies” for the entire show. I badly hated this show- that is how I don’t want to feel in shows. As being too depressing that you are given a miserable experience.

Les Mis

While heartbreaking like #8, there is still a gigantic difference. Les Mis is actually the musical that made me realize tragedies exist in musical theatre. I was blind to heartbreak and the genre of tragedy growing up. Well, in Les Mis’ case—-you aren’t miserable. It is heartbreaking, but spiritual, uplifting, and inspiring at the same time. It is full of hope, love, compassion, forgiveness, humanity, sacrifice, and redemption. Some of those themes are hard to notice, but will be if you look deeper. With a powerful story, characters, and songs, Les Mis is one of the best musicals. It is one of the few musicals that makes me an emotional wreck. But, in a positive way. My emotional connection is so strong that I want to feel the emotions. Now, this is how I want a sad show to be like.


There are big differences when it comes to the pure sad shows and the more inspiring and uplifting shows. Les Mis, La Bohème, and Rent may ALL be heartbreaking, but I am able to hold on due to their positive side. I also can hold on due to an emotional connection. It is easier to bond with inspiring sad shows unlike those that make you feel miserable.

Rent Final Broadway Cast Film

While Broadway may be black, theatre is still alive. Theater traces its roots to Ancient Greece. Since, there are been multiple pandemics, but still stays alive. While some tours are being postponed or cancelled, and The West End and Broadway are dark, there is still ways to see musicals. The most obvious comes from the musical movies: Sound of Music, Singing in the Rain, My Fair Lady, Greatest Showman, Mamma Mia, Live Action Aladdin, Live Action Beauty and the Beast, and Les Mis: examples. There is one more type of musical: the actual concerts and filmed stage shows. I own some of those: Les Mis’ 10th and 25th concert, Phantom of the Opera’s 25th special, and the final Rent Broadway Cast film.

Well, this post will specifically talk about the Rent Final Broadway Cast. I first fell in love with the musical Fall 2012. I don’t know how I discovered the musical, but think it was through Pandora. Ever since, I wanted to see the stage show, but the first version I would see of Rent is the Final Broadway Cast film. Rent is meaningful to me due to the message it conveys: live in the moment and in love. In some ways, I think the musical is relevant especially now. Rent takes place during the HIV/AIDS epidemic, but now we are in the middle of the Corona Pandemic. We can’t let fear get in the way- but love. It is more important than ever to live in the moment and in love.

Yes, while Rent is controversial, it is truly a celebration of life. Four of the major characters (Roger, Mimi, Angel, and Collins) have HIV. Then you have bisexual Maureen, Lesbian Joanne, and gay Angel and Collins. Mimi is a struggling drug addict. Roger is dealing with depression at the beginning of the musical, but Mimi helps him break out of his shell. See what I mean: tough topics and controversial. However, they show us how precious life is and the importance of living in the moment and in love.

With versions like this Rent Film, we are still able to see shows unfold in front of our eyes. So, theater will never be dead—-we still have a way to show musical theatre. There are the filmed staged shows that we have access to. We will eventually climb out of the pandemic and get back to seeing musicals live. As many musical theatre fans know, there is nothing like the power of live theater. It is frustrating, annoying, and disappointing that they are at a stop now.

I had to put up with both Anastasia and Frozen being postponed—so have to wait even longer. Well, I waited five years to see the stage show of Rent so if that was worth it, so will be the reopening of live musicals.

I saw the stage show in September 2017 at Belk Theater. Five years worth the wait. Due to how close Gardner Webb was to Charlotte, I was able to go home for a weekend to see Rent. Gardner Webb is in the middle of nowhere, but about one hour away from Charlotte.

Complex Musicals- What makes them complex

As several musical theatre fans know, musicals have an extremely wide range of plot, songs, and the characters. There are both simple and complex musicals. What exactly makes complex musicals.

For starters, let’s go into the songs. Those songs tend to have BOTH happy and sad songs- as in sad songs being strong enough to remember. These songs, especially at heartbreaking songs, can easily make us feel like we are hit by a pile of bricks: meaning having the ability to give us goosebumps and tears.

Second- let’s venture into the characters. These characters are complex due to having flaws, strengths, and can be portrayed in several ways. These characters are the ones who have an emotional journey. They tend to have a strong backstory to make them complex in the first place. Each time you see the same show, and something is added to the character, that would make them complex.

Third, the plot itself- They have the main story along with subplots. Their stories are powerful and come with incredible messages. The subplots do show that a musical is complex. After all, it means that other characters’ stories are important just like the main characters’ are.

I tend to lean towards complex musicals because those feel the most relatable, feel real and believable, and are truly “human”. After all, life is messy and complicated. We tend to have some of the strongest emotional connections in them because we truly can see themselves as actual humans. It is because of their flaws, strengths, backstory, and their emotional nature that we can see ourselves in them so easily.

What are examples of complex musicals:

  1. Wicked
  2. Les Mis
  3. Rent
  4. Phantom of the Opera
  5. Newsies
  6. Beauty and the Beast
  7. Aladdin
  8. Lion King

There are others, but those are the ones I can think of for now.

Things in Common between all Favorite Musicals

As all musical fanatics know, there are musicals we don’t like and at the same time there are musicals we love. While I tend to lean towards complex musicals, there are still simple musicals I love. While I tend to want spectacle or dance, not all musicals I love share that. So, what exactly is in common towards all of them?

Well, to make a musical, we need songs, plot, and character. It is extremely difficult to love the plot and characters if the songs are not good. That is one thing in common between all my favorite characters-as in amazing songs. That is usually my first step for a musical to become amazing.

Now that song is taken care of, it is time to look at the characters. That’s right, I look at the characters before the plot. After all, the characters create the plot in the first- no matter how small or big they are to the show. I have to love characters in the show. The characters are a huge reason why the songs become the songs we tend to love. We want the songs to complement the characters.

Finally- what about the plot? All three together create one. I have to love the plot. If the plot is boring, it will lead to boring songs and even not so amazing characters.

Now, what is especially important is the emotional connection to song, character, and plot. That emotional connection is where the WANT, DESIRE, and REASON comes from. It makes you want to listen the songs, go on the characters’ journey, which connects to the plot. All of the musicals I love I formed a strong emotion with: Wicked, Les Mis, Annie, Sound of Music, Phantom of the Opera, Rent, etc…….ALL have an emotional connection. Because of our emotional connection, it makes us love feeling the emotions in the first place. Positive emotions are the easiest to love feeling, but when it comes to negative emotions, that emotional connection is really important. After all, it truly matters what the characters’ lives and story are.

Yes, it will hurt at times in a musical. But, it isn’t our emotions we are feeling; instead it is the characters’. While we still feel the negative emotions, those have created some of the most beautiful songs in musical theatre. We end up loving listening to those sad/heartbreaking songs. “I’m Not Girl”, “Santa Fe”, “On My Own”, “I Dreamed a Dream”, “Empty Chairs at Empty Tables”, “If I Can’t Love Her” are examples of songs I love despite the sadness that they have. I love dealing with these emotions due to the emotional connection I have with these characters.

So, what I am saying about all favorite musicals, they all share an emotional connection. That is exactly why I love each of them. The range of musicals is quite gigantic: “Music Man” to “Les Mis”. That really does show a lot.

Below are pictures from favorite musicals of mine: not all of them, but some.

Seasons of Love

I did say I love more than one musical set in NYC- this is another. This musical may be considered controversial, but it is still one of my favorites. I actually recently saw the Opera that Rent was based off of: La Bohème, which I do love. Rent deals with some topics that might be a bit surprising to some people. Why do I love Rent?


I love its collection of songs. Just like Les Mis, I do become an emotional wreck. It is actually the next level down from Les Mis. The songs are both exciting and emotional. The emotional songs are either sad or a love songs. In my opinion, it has one of the best endings. You have to understand the plot to figure out why a song is hitting you the way it does.


I do not know what it is about these characters, but there is something unique about them. You barely see these characters in musical theatre. They are starving artists who are living in poverty. Some are part of the LGBT community. These characters are extremely unique. Considering the time period- some do have HIV. It is set during that epidemic: the HIV/AIDS epidemic: the 80s/90s.


Set during the HIV/AIDS epidemic, it follows a year of friends living in love despite the fear. In total you have not one, but three couples: Mimi/Roger (the main one), Angel/Collins, and Maureen/Joanne. Struggles happen and fights do happen, but they teach us to live our lives in love not fear and in the moment. Four of those friends have HIV.

Favorite Song: Seasons of Love