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, 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 has a sudden key change and 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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What are Musical Songs I Love?

This will be my first Mega list. I will be making a list of my favorite musical songs, which means it will not be limited to just one emotion.

  1. One Short Day
  2. I’m Not That Girl
  3. The Wizard and I
  4. What is This Feeling
  5. Dancing Through Life
  6. As Long As Your’e Mine
  7. Defying Gravity
  8. For Good
  9. On My Own
  10. Bring Him Home
  11. A Little Fall of Rain
  12. What Have I Done
  13. At the End of the Day
  14. Drink With Me
  15. I Dreamed a Dream
  16. Come to Me
  17. Who Am I
  18. Finale/Do You Hear the People Sing
  19. Red and Black
  20. Stars
  21. A Heart Full of Love
  22. One Day More
  23. Do You Hear The People Sing
  24. Empty Chairs at Empty Tables
  25. Master of the House
  26. Suddenly
  27. Singing in the Rain
  28. Make Em Laugh
  29. Good Morning
  30. Seasons of Love
  31. Will I
  32. Another Day
  33. One Song Glory
  34. Finale B
  35. I Should Tell You
  36. I’ll Cover You
  37. Without You
  38. The Impossible Dream
  39. Tomorrow
  40. Hard Knock Life
  41. Your’e Never Fully Dressed Without a Smile
  42. I Think I’m Gonna Like It Here
  43. NYC
  44. Let’s Go To The Movies
  45. Belle
  46. Be Our Guest
  47. No Matter What
  48. Beauty and the Beast
  49. Something There
  50. Home
  51. Evermore
  52. If I Can’t Love Her
  53. Gaston
  54. Memory
  55. Mr Mistoffles
  56. Prologue: Jellicle Cats
  57. Some Enchanted Evening
  58. Younger Than Springtime
  59. There is Nothing Like a Dame
  60. Bali Hai
  61. Edelweiss
  62. Sound of Music
  63. Do Re Mi
  64. Climb Every Mountain
  65. My Favorite Things
  66. So Long Farewell
  67. Lonely Goatherd
  68. Seize the Day
  69. Santa Fe
  70. Something to Believe In
  71. Letter From the Refuge
  72. The World Will Know
  73. Santa Fe (Prologue)
  74. Summer Nights
  75. We Go Together
  76. Greased Lightening
  77. Your’e The One That I Want
  78. There Are Worse Things I Could Do
  79. Beauty School Dropout
  80.  Suddenly Seymour
  81. Grow For Me
  82. Somewhere That’s Green
  83. Skid Row
  84. Tradition
  85. Matchmaker
  86. Sunrise, Sunset
  87. Once and For All
  88. Brooklyn’s Here
  89. King of New York
  90. Mamma Mia
  91. Dancing Queen
  92. Music of the Night
  93. Phantom of the Opera
  94. All I Ask Of You
  95. Wishing You Were Somehow Here Again
  96. Think of Me
  97. As Long As He Needs Me
  98. Where Is Love
  99. Consider Yourself
  100. I’d Do Anything
  101. Magic to Do
  102. Corner of the Sky
  103. No Time At All
  104. Single Joys
  105. King of Woman
  106. Extraordinary
  107. Prepare Ye
  108. We Beseech Thee
  109. Getting to Know You
  110. Shall We Dance
  111. I Whistle a Happy Tune
  112. Let It Go
  113. For the First Time in Forever
  114. Can You Feel the Love Tonight
  115. Shadowland
  116. Endless Night
  117. They Live In You
  118. A Whole New World
  119. Oklahoma
  120. One Hand, One Heart
  121. Somewhere
  122. Something’s Coming

This list really shows just how capable musicals are. It shows a wide range of emotions from love to heartbreak to joy to excitement to sad, which are the five main emotions.

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

Musicals That Make Me Cry

One thing that makes musicals unique is that they are capable of reducing you to tears. I am not a typical crier so that kind of reaction in a musical is not common for me. I will talk about the musicals that actually have made me cry. The interesting thing about this list is that some of these musicals took quite a while till I had that kind of reaction or a few months or just one day.

Of course, I will talk about Les Mis. I want to say Les Mis is the first musical I ever cried during. I first saw it through the movie, but I honestly do not think I cried the first time. I did not know how to react to this tragic musical. But it was the second time when I realized there was something special in Les Mis. I believe I started crying during the second time and to this day I still do. I honestly do not know what it is about the songs that make me have that kind of reaction.

Les Mis is home to many heartbreaking scenes full of misery. Characters deal with things such as unrequited love, prostitution, abuse, survivor’s guilt and so on. Characters die throughout the musical. The songs are extremely powerful and touch your heart and soul in such a way that make you tear up and I still do not know what it is. This musical has songs such as “I Dreamed a Dream”, “A Little Fall of Rain”, “Come to Me”, “Drink With Me”,”On My Own” and “Empty Chairs at Empty Tables”

Similar to Les Mis in a way is Rent.  It is also a sad musical and powerful. Rent does not make me cry as much as Les Mis, but it still has it moments. It takes place during the HIV/AIDS epidemic and four of the eight main characters have the illness. Songs such as “Will I?” , “Your Eyes”, and “Without You” are tear reducing moments.

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There is only one song in Wicked that made me cry the fourth time I saw it. That song would be “For Good”. That song is the most emotional song in the entire musical. The story revolves around the friendship between Elphaba and Glinda. My reaction during the fourth viewing goes to show just how brilliant my Elphaba and Glinda are and just how meaningful and vulnerable Wicked has become. To be honest, I do not know if this song made me tear up before the fourth viewing or not, but I did know just bittersweet and special the song is.

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Sound of Music was the most surprising when I cried. I first fell in love with the musical in elementary school. I remember always loving Edelweiss, my favorite song from the song. I saw it live two years ago. During Edelweiss, my emotional connection and vulnerability grew in a way I never saw coming. Sad entered the picture in the middle of the song and I cried from the halfway point till the end. So it took from elementary school all the way to 2015 to realize Edelweiss has some sadness in it.

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Last but not least is Oliver.  Just last week, I saw the movie musical of Oliver. I came in aware of just how heartbreaking “As Long As He Needs Me” is even though I had never seen Oliver before (well I have, but doesn’t count since I do not remember). I cried during that number. This is an example of tearing up during the first try.

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I honestly do not know what makes you cry during a musical. I know it has to be a combination of things. Your emotional connection plays a role in your reactions, but there are other musicals where I have a strong emotional connection, but do not drive me to tears. Sometimes it can be the staging of a number or it can actually be how an actor portrays a character. I honestly have no idea. Ever since Les Mis entered my life, how I view musical emotions is different. With Les Mis, I love it when a musical drives me to tearing up.

What musicals make you cry? Why do you think certain musicals make you cry?

What Does It Mean to Feel Vulnerable in a Musical?

Vulnerable: capable of being physically or emotionally wounded or hurt

What does it mean to feel vulnerable in the musical world? That is a very tough question. Vulnerability deals with emotions such as love, sad, heartbreak, loneliness, desperation, guilt, and devastating. Vulnerability has to do with being open to emotions and not being closed off to them.

In the more emotional musicals, you have to be vulnerable. Being vulnerable is not a sign of weakness in a musical. In an emotional musical, feeling vulnerable shows you have an emotional connection.

Wicked is one of those more emotional musicals. My journey began as a 12 year old. I saw it four times in all. Each time I may approach it as a 12 year old, but my vulnerability level kept on increasing each time. That was because my knowledge of the characters and emotions deepened.

Two emotional moments in Wicked are “I’m Not That Girl” and “For Good”. “For Good” is even more emotional since the core of Wicked is friendship and that song is bittersweet because the two friends have reunited but it is the last time they will see each other. I feel like the fourth time that moment was really special to me. I was seeing it with Gardner Webb, a school that has changed me for the better, so that added meaning to the musical and I had an incredible Elphaba (understudy) and Glinda.

“I’m Not That Girl” is a heartbreaking song that wasn’t always interpreted as a heartbreaking song. It started out as being interpreted as sad and I knew that each time I would see Wicked, I would feel more vulnerable when it comes to that song, but I never could see beyond it being sad. That was because growing up I was 100% blind to heartbreak in musicals and because Elphaba’s story does not revolve around unrequited love but instead her friendship with Glinda.

So “On My Own” from Les Mis, another unrequited love song, was key to picking up on “I’m Not That Girl” being heartbreaking especially because Eponine’s story revolves around unrequited love unlike Elphaba’s story, which revolves around her friendship with Glinda. It is tricky actually feeling heartbroken in “I’m Not That Girl” if you know Elphaba is going to end with Fiyero in the end, which is kind of an odd situation in a way since it started out with Fiyero and Glinda being a couple.

My knowledge of “I’m Not That Girl” being heartbreaking isn’t the only reason why my fourth time was the most vulnerable. It had to do with “No Good Deed” as well. I never felt vulnerable in this song the first three times at all. I never liked the song and I do not know if I ever saw the right portrayal or was it because of my dislike towards the song. Well, the fourth time I saw Wicked, I felt vulnerable in this song for the first time able to finally felt its emotions and they actually stuck. Wicked is one such example of a musical becoming more and more vulnerable

Even in “As Long As Your’e Mine” I have to feel vulnerable. It is a love song and in a love song you have to feel vulnerable at times. Fiyero and Elphaba are a very mature, young couple and quite unexpected.

Rent is another emotional musical, but there is a difference between Wicked and Rent. I find Wicked to be a happy musical. But I find Rent to be sad. Rent is sad due to the time period that it takes place in: the HIV/AIDS epidemic and four of the main characters are struggling and living with it. Roger, who is struggling with it, is also battling depression as well and Mimi ,who is living with HIV, is also struggling with a drug addiction but those struggles makes those two characters real.

In songs such as “Will I?” , “I Should Tell You”, “Without You”, “I’ll Cover You (Reprise), “Life Support”, “One Song Glory” among others, you have to feel vulnerable because they are either heartbreaking or love songs.

Possible Spoilers:

An even sadder musical than Rent is Les Mis. That musical has an extreme vulnerable level. I have to feel vulnerable a lot because that musical is covered with negative emotions scene after scene it seems. In the first scene, you see the injustice that Jean Valjean is facing, which is shown up until the bishop scene. Throughout all of Fantine’s struggle, you see the unfairness of women during France of women at the time. She may die at the end, but she dies knowing her child will be cared for by Jean Valjean.

Fast forward to the next scene and Cosette is facing abuse the Thenardiers. So you see, Les Mis is covered with sad scene after sad scene, but faced with an incredible spirit of hope and light in the midst of darkness. Fantine isn’t the only one to loss her life in Les Mis. Like Fantine, many of the other characters die happy. Eponine dies in the arms of Marius, the boy she loves unrequitedly, after being shot, the students and Gavroche die standing up for what they believe in and Jean Valjean dies with Cosette and Marius by his side.

Les Mis has several scenes you have to feel vulnerable. Many characters have to face horrible conditions. Valjean has to deal with the injustices of an ex-convict. Fantine has to face how unfairly a woman will be treated if found out you have an illegitimate child. Cosette has to face horrible abuse by the Thenardiers as a child. Eponine has to deal with horrible abuse by the Thenardiers growing up and discovers that her parents don’t even care about her and they teach her the ways of being a criminal and she faces the pain of unrequited love. Marius has to face the pain of survivors guilt after losing all of his friends at the barricade.

Other moments that are important to feeling vulnerable are “As Long As He Needs Me”, a heartbreaking song in Oliver, and Edelweiss in Sound of Music. I just saw the musical movie of Oliver last week and “As Long As He Needs Me” made me cry. I connected so well to Nancy at that moment and that situation is quite heartbreaking.

Just two years ago, I saw the stage show of Sound of Music for the first time and that musical is one I grew up with the movie. My favorite song of all time was “Edelweiss” and I was shocked in the middle of the song that sad decided to enter the picture and the rest of the song made me cry and that discovery made me feel vulnerable in the second half of that song and increased my emotional connection and vulnerability level in Sound of Music.

What I am trying to say is that feeling vulnerable in a musical is key to the negative emotions and some of the positive emotions. There is lot of romance in musicals and there is vulnerability in that aspect. Heartbreak feels more vulnerable than sad is, which is true when it begins at the moderate level, which is anything from “I’m Not That Girl” and beyond. It is quite difficult to describe what it means to feel vulnerable in a musical. It is important for character development, which in turn is important for emotional development as well.

What do you think? What does it mean to feel vulnerable in a musical?

Opinions I Once Had About Musicals

This is a list of beliefs I had about musicals at one point my journey. I will talk about why I had those options and will talk about why I no longer have those opinions. But now, each of those points have been disproven by Les Mis.

Possible Spoilers:

My first opinion was all musicals are happy. I only said that because that was all I had seen and due to that I believed every musical was happy. Les Mis disproved that and even Rent did the same thing. But it really was Les Mis that disproved it. I saw the movie musical back in 2012 and that was my first full exposure to the musical. While watching I discovered Les Mis was a heartbreaking musical and did not know how to respond. Over time Les Mis became such an important part of my musical journey and my life. I realized NOT all musicals are happy like I once believed.

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A second opinion I had about theatre in general is that I will always hate tragedies and will never learn to love one. Both Les Mis and Rent disproved that opinion as well. I love both of them. Both of them are sad and I can be particular when it comes to tragic musicals. I love them because they have amazing songs, characters, and storylines. Both go beyond their tragic nature. Les Mis has this underlying spirituality due to its forgiveness, compassion, love, hope, sacrifice, humanity and sacrifice and Rent has the message of living in the moment and measuring your life in love.

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A third opinion I had about theatre is that a death scene can never be memorable. Prior to Les Mis, I have seen death scenes in musicals, but I have forgotten about some of them and overlooked some of them. All of the death scenes in Les Mis but Javert’s are memorable. Those memorable deaths happen to characters who do not die alone and they all have some kind of joy in their death scenes. Fantine dies with Valjean by her side who promises to her that he will raise Cosette as his own. Eponine, despite being shot, dies in the arms of Marius, the man she loves even though that love is unrequited. Gavroche and the students died standing up for what they believed in. Valjean died with Cosette, his adopted daughter, and Marius by his side.

So far, the only memorable death scenes in musicals happened to be from Les Mis. The fact that Javert was the only character to die alone shows just how memorable the other deaths are. All of my favorite characters are dead by the end of the musical. But they still have a wonderful fate.

A fourth opinion that formed is that every musical must have some dance or spectacle element and those two are still part of my musical vision. Once again, Les Mis disproved that point again. Through Les Mis, I realized just how incredible a musical can be without a dance or spectacle element.

A fifth opinion I had is that negative emotions can never go beyond sad. I started to understand the negative emotions in middle school. By high school, I knew sad was common and was important. But I believed the negative emotions could never be more. Les Mis once again disproved that point. I realized there is more to sad when it comes to the negative emotions. I had no idea I was 100% blind to heartbreak. It isn’t just heartbreak that entered: it is just how deep the heartbreak actually is in Les Mis.

This might be connected, but even other emotions changed as a result of realizing heartbreak is musical emotion. It affected joy and love as well. Look at heartbreaking love songs and look at heartbreaking song with joy in it. Look at just how insightful and truthful and powerful they can be. Prior to Les Mis, I don’t remember if a musical song made me cry, but in Les Mis, I cry each time I listen to the song or even watch the musical in any way.

So Les Mis really showed me a side of musicals I had never seen before. I had all of these opinions only because of what I had known about musicals. It had to do with what I remembered. It had to do with how I interpreted them. Since happy musicals used to take up every single musical, I ended up calling most musicals happy and calling all musicals joyful. It makes sense why I thought a death scene could never be memorable. So in many ways, this post shows a huge reason why Les Mis played such a huge part in my musical journey.

What are some opinions you once had about musicals and did anything disprove them?

The World of Plays and Musicals

In today’s post, I will talk about both plays and musicals. I will explain why I am drawn to musicals more than plays. I am experienced both in my lifetime and have studied some in school.

In my opinion, plays are more boring and less interesting than a musical. I have studied them and been to them. But I am not quite as drawn to them. The emotions feel even less interesting and harder to get to know. In high school, through the likes of Romeo and Juliet, The Crucible, Julius Caesar, and Macbeth, I treated them poorly just because they were tragic. I thought tragedies were just a mess of sadness. They never seemed to interest me, but then again never took the time to get to know them. However, there is one play I studied in high school that I did enjoy, which was Taming of the Shrew, a Comedy.

Throughout college, studying and seeing plays continued. I did study Death of a Salesman and did not like it. One year I think it was 2013, my parents took me to see Mousetrap and I enjoyed it. Throughout my time at Gardner Webb, I saw plays such as Full Moon Over Montmarte, Servant of Two Masters, I Ya Ya Yo, Glass Menargarie, and Trojan Women, and #8. Servant of Two Masters was the most enjoyable.

I hated #8 so much. It gave me a very negative experience. It was a play dealing with the Holocaust. All I felt in that play was negative emotions and there never seemed to be light. I was so uncomfortable that I honestly wanted to leave. But I had to stay due to being required to. I do not want to experience the negative emotions in a way that actually is quite harmful to the experience.

I honestly struggle with having emotional connections to a play. Just spoken word is sort of boring. So what is the real reason why I love musicals over plays? Well, musicals are way more than spoken word. They have dance, song, and spectacle, three aspects that allow you to fully invest in the story and the character’s stories. The dance and spectacle is fun to watch and helps you believe in the story.

The songs in a musical are the main reason why I emotionally connect to well in a musical. In a play, there always seems to be an emotional disconnect. In a musical, due to the power of song, it is easier to find an emotional connection. It allows you to easily fall in love with positive and negative emotions. It is easier to cope with negative emotions in a musical due to beautiful songs that create these heartbreaking and bittersweet moments.

The negative emotions in a musical do not cause any harm in a musical experience. They actually support a musical experience. They actually strengthen your emotional connection to characters and actually make you love musical characters even more. They are supposed to feel real and are capable of so much and can drive you to tears at times, but they actually give you a positive experience.

So in conclusion, I find plays boring due to just having spoken word. The regular spoken word makes it hard to emotionally connect to characters. But in a musical, the songs actually make it easier to find an emotional connection and allow you to find joy in both positive and negative emotions. The dance and spectacle is another reason why musicals are betters than plays. The dance and spectacle is entertaining. Musicals are intended to be joyful.

What are your thoughts? Why do you love musicals more than plays?