Musical Theatre Characters Who Sing Heartbreaking Songs

This post sounds interesting. I have written posts where I listed heartbreaking songs. This time, I decided to write a list of characters who do sing heartbreaking songs. Some of the characters are tragic characters while other are not. I will next to them list some of the heartbreaking songs they sing. They will not necessarily be in the order in which I love the characters.

SPOILERS AHEAD:

Elphaba- I’m Not That Girl

Glinda- I’m Not That Girl (Reprise)

Beast- Evermore ( live action movie), If I Can’t Love Her/ If I Can’t Love Her (Reprise)

Christine- Wishing You Were Somehow Here Again

Eponine- On My Own, A Little Fall of Rain

Marius- Empty Chairs at Empty Tables, A Little Fall of Rain, Drink With Me, Epilogue

Crutchie- Letter From the Refuge

Emelie- This Nearly Was Mine

Valjean- Come to Me, Bring Him Home, Epilogue

Fantine- I Dreamed a Dream, Come to Me

Javert- Javert’s Suicide

Enjolras and the Students- Drink with Me

Women in Les Mis- Turning

Maria/Tony- Somewhere

Simba- Endless Night

Phantom- All I ask Of You (Reprise)

Nancy- As Long As He Needs Me

What are some other examples of characters who sing heartbreaking songs?

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Romeo and Juliet vs West Side Story

I never did a post like this before. As some may know, the musical, West Side Story, is based off of Shakespeare’s play, Romeo and Juliet. I decided to talk about the two of these in this post. This comparison shows how I looked at tragedy in high school versus how I view the same genre now: very opposite views.

Major and Minor Spoilers:

Romeo and Juliet was the play where I first discovered the genre of tragedy. It was in 9th grade. It started high school in 2008, and when we got to the Shakespeare unit, we had to read Romeo and Juliet. We had to learn what the genre of tragedy us. I never knew tragedy was a part of theatre. The word, TRAGEDY, confused me. I was thinking tragedy can’t be a part of theatre. Only comedy can exist in theatre and not any tragedies. The word, tragedy, to me sounded pure sad. I thought that was what it meant. I didn’t want to delve deeper into the genre. I didn’t want the genre to enter my life. I told myself I will never love a tragedy. With Romeo and Juliet, I kind of ignored it: yes, I studied it because I am a hard working student, but did not like all because I pushed it back and told myself I will not love it. I also ignored it because it was a Shakespeare play. In the show, I was like I don’t get it: two families not getting along: where did that come from? The ending I was disagreed with- the double suicide I hated. So much of my opinion came from not giving tragedy a good enough chance.

In between Romeo and Juliet and West Side Story, I learned to love tragedies all because of Les Mis.

I first discovered West Side Story in 11th grade. I was told it was based off of Romeo and Juliet, but for some bizarre reason, I did not realize it was a tragedy at the time. I did not watch the film until 2014. A snowstorm hit Charlotte, and a good church friend leant us five films, and West Side Story was one of them. So I had to watch it no matter what. At this point, I knew it was drawn through the dance, and at that point I defiantly knew it was a tragic point. I connected the dots between Romeo and Juliet and West Side Story. This sounds insane- the musical may be based off Romeo and Juliet, but I like West Side Story’s plot more. You might be thinking is it only because its a musical not a play? Instead of Romeo and Juliet, the main characters are Tony and Maria. Instead of two families, it is two gangs (The Jets and Sharks). It is not because of that. A lot of it has to do with the ending- in this version, one of them lives- I prefer that ending to the double suicide. I don’t exactly know why I prefer that ending, but I just do. I liked West Side Story enough to like the songs- I feel like the love songs get more and more heartbreaking as the show continues. So, as a high school kid, I HATED the idea of theatre. Now, TRAGEDIES are enjoyable. I don’t love West Side Story nor do I like it- it is sitting right in the middle of liking it and loving- so mixed emotions.

So this gives you an idea of how I used to view tragedies- so I once told myself I will NEVER love a tragedy. It also shows that I no longer have that negative view, but I still am particular about the tragedies I like.

Did you used to have a negative view on tragedies? Are you particular about the tragedies you love?

Non-Ironic Heartbreaking Love Musical Theatre Songs

A couple days ago, I wrote a list of those heartbreaking love musical theatre songs that are ironic. But what about those heartbreaking songs that are not ironic at all. Those are the types of songs that are sung by characters whose stories revolve around unrequited love, the plot is a tragic love story, or something like that. Here is my list of those sort of songs.

1. On My Own- Eponine’s story revolves around unrequited love. I owe this song a lot. After all, it helped me realize that “I’m Not That Girl” is heartbreaking. It took me an entire year to know this song was heartbreaking. Eponine’s unrequited love story is one of the most intriguing ones in musical theatre.

2. All I ask Of You (Reprise)- Just like Eponine, Phantom’s story revolves around unrequited, but he does not take it very well.

3. As Long As He Needs Me

4. Somewhere- in West Side Story, the songs get more and more heartbreaking as the musical continues. This one is right near the end.

Heartbreaking Love Musical Songs

The musical emotions of love and heartbreak work nicely together. Both translate beautifully. There are musical songs that are heartbreaking love songs. Below I will talk about some heartbreaking love songs.

Possible Spoilers:

I’m Not That Girl- this song started out as sad. I was only in middle school when I first realized the song was sad. By high school, I definitely understood this song was part of a love triangle. I was 100% blind to heartbreak growing up. I honesty did not understand unrequited love in those days. The song, “On My Own”, is a huge reason why I discovered this song was heartbreaking and memorizing the lyrics helped as well. This song doesn’t have room to be fully heartbreaking because literally just moments before Elphaba sang this song, she just found out she loves Fiyero so in many ways this song is moderately heartbreaking.

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On My Own- this song is even more heartbreaking than I’m Not That Girl. While both are unrequited love songs, there are obvious differences due to how different Elphaba and Eponine are as characters. Eponine’s story revolves around unrequited love so you know how it affects her unlike Elphaba. Marius is the only person who treats her kindly and that is why she loves him. This song shows just how strong Eponine is and this song is even more powerful and more heartbreaking than “I’m Not That Girl”

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This Nearly Was Mine- while this song is not dealing with unrequited love, there are still some similarities. This is sung in South Pacific by Emelie. Nellie has left him due to the race of his children’s mother. So this sung is dealing with a breakup, which has similar emotions in my opinion with unrequited love.

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Somewhere- this is the last love song in West Side Story. As the love songs go on in this musical, the songs just get sadder and sadder. This song happens right after the rumble takes place and that is when the first traces of tragedy show up. It is so close to the tragic end of this modern Romeo and Juliet tale.

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If I Can’t Love Her/Evermore-I put these two songs together because they are both sung by beast. They both are similar to each other in emotion. Beast has realized that he loves Belle, but doesn’t know if she will ever love him. He cannot be turned back into his human form until he loves someone and he is loved back.

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As Long As He Needs Me- I actually did see Oliver in middle school, but do not remember seeing it. The only knowledge I really have belong to the book and the 2005 movie. So it is interesting how I seem to know that this song is a heartbreaking love song, but the same could be said for “If I Can’t Love Her”. But by knowing who Nancy is in the book and that movie, I know this song is heartbreaking. Nancy loves Bill Sikes even though he is abusive towards her, but she will always love him as long as he needs her even though the situation is dangerous

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In many ways heartbreak and love really fit nicely together. Even though I heard “If I Can’t Love Her” before “I’m Not That Girl”, “I’m Not That Girl” was really the start to sad love songs. That was because Wicked was the musical where I began to understand the negative emotions and Wicked is the best way I can even remember what the negative emotions were like in my younger years.

However “On My Own” started telling me more about sad love songs. I began to understand that sad love songs are actually heartbreaking. If it wasn’t for “On My Own”, I still would be interpreting sad love songs the same way as  I used to call “I’m Not That Girl”. Calling a song heartbreaking is even more devastating than calling a song sad. Due to that, a heartbreaking love song has more fragility and vulnerability. I cannot think of a single sad love song that is not heartbreaking.

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The World of Classics of Musicals

What do I mean by a classic musical? Whenever I think of the classics, I tend to think of those from the Golden Age of musicals. I am a fan of the classic musicals and that says a lot about my tastes in musicals. The fact that I love musicals from the Golden Age really says a lot.

The very first classic musical I ever loved was Sound of Music. It was a movie I saw when I was a kid. I have loved it ever since elementary school. It is my favorite of all the classics and the best Rodgers and Hammerstein musical in my opinion. I am drawn to its themes of music and family. It has this memorable score with songs like “My Favorite Things”, “Do Re Mi”, “Sound of Music”, “Climb Every Mountain” and “Edelweiss”. It is one of the most meaningful musicals of my life. It after all is a musical I have loved since elementary school and it still holds a special place in my heart.

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The 2nd best Rodgers and Hammerstein musical I love is South Pacific. It is a romantic story and is about the relationship between Emelie and Nellie. It has memorable songs like “Some Enchanted Evening”, “There is Nothing Like a Dame”, “This Nearly Was Mine” and “Younger Than Springtime”. It does deal with interracial marriage and does deal with racism. In the song, “You’ve Got to Be Carefully Taught”, it shows that racism is taught and it isn’t something we are born with.

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Other Rodgers and Hammerstein musicals I have seen are Oklahoma, King and I, and Cinderella. Rodgers and Hammerstein are one of the most important teams in the Golden Age. I don’t fully love King and I, but do some Anna and songs like “Getting to Know You”, “Shall We Dance” and “I Whistle a Happy Tune”. I love some of the songs from Cinderella as well. As a matter of fact, Oklahoma is when the Golden Age of Musicals truly begins.

Another Golden Age musical I have seen is Music Man. I first discovered it through Pandora. Before I saw it live, I was already familiar with songs like “Seventy Six Trombones”, “Ya Got Trouble” and “Gary Indiana”. My school decided to put together a production of Music Man in Spring of 2015. That was my first semester of Gardner Webb. One big reason why I love Music Man is just how light-hearted and happy it is.

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Another Golden Age musical I love is Singing in the Rain. I love songs like “Good Morning” and “Singing in the Rain”. Just like Music Man, the musical is very light-hearted and very happy. While I prefer musicals that have songs that have both positive and negative emotions, I don’t want all musicals to be in that nature. I love how simple both Singing in the Rain and Music Man are. Because they are in the light-hearted nature they are in, it helps balance out musicals.

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It wouldn’t be right to talk about the classics unless I bring up West Side Story. I have conflicting feelings about this musical. I saw the movie and I found the movie good, but nowhere close to being a masterpiece. But I did like the songs just enough to get the songs. I felt like the dancing was off in a way. It is one of the most well-known musicals. It is a tragic tale based off of Romeo and Juliet. I don’t love West Side Story, but I don’t like it either. I feel like it is somewhere between loving it and liking it. I honestly want to see the stage show to seeing how the dancing fares. In my personal opinion, I feel like dancing works better live due to the nature dancing in musicals has.

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I may just be a college student, but I do enjoy the classics. Loving and liking the classics in a way shows what kind of a musical fan I am. It shows I love musicals from a wide range of time periods. I didn’t know about the classics until about my college years. The only one I was aware of belong to Sound of Music because I grew up with the movie.

What are your thoughts about the classic musicals?

Young Musical Love

Romance is quite a beautiful part of musicals. No theme has been greater than that. But what is so special about the young love that is presented? As a matter of fact, most romances in musicals are young lovers. That makes sense because most musical characters are young.

I feel like with young musical characters, there is this kind of innocence built into them. There even is a wonderful sense of youth built into the romances as well. There even is a sense of maturity. At times, love has fragility and vulnerability built into the mix especially during unrequited love songs.

Possible Spoilers:

I feel like the love triangles fare very well with young musical characters. Whether that is the love triangle either in Wicked or Les Mis, it still works really well. The love triangles are incredibly complicated especially the Wicked one. No matter what, you can’t make all of the characters involved happy at all. I still don’t fully understand a love triangle, but it makes more sense than ever.

There is always the unrequited lover and that can be confusing. In the Wicked one, that is really challenging because the unrequited love shifts gears on you because it starts with Elphaba having unrequited love for Fiyero, but in act II it shifts to Glinda feeling unrequited love for Fiyero. Elphaba and Fiyero are my favorite musical couple because you wouldn’t expect them to get together at all. They may be young, but their song is so mature and quite mystical.

In the case of Les Mis, the unrequited love never shifts gears on you because it is always Eponine. This love triangle fares very well. There are two times where you see all three together and you end up feeling for all of them.

Eponine’s unrequited love for Marius is quite a special one because she constantly is showing true love towards him even if he won’t do the same for her. Eponine’s unrequited love is very heartbreaking and painful for her especially because Marius is the only good in her life and is the only person to show her kindness. That is why she loves Marius so much and why she keeps on loving him. She continues to love him until the very end of her story.

When it comes to Disney, young musical characters give the show a kind of magic, which is perfect for Disney. One such couple is Katherine and Jack, the newest Disney couple of my life. Below are pictures of young romances including my favorite couple. I feel like young musical romances are incredible because of their songs.

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Elphaba and Fiyero

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Cosette, Marius, Eponine

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Raoul, Christine

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Jack, Katherine

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Tony, Maria

What is special about young musical couples?

 

 

Serious Side of Musicals

The serious side of musicals refers to any of the dark moments and those moments are usually represented by elements of tragedy. These moments exist in the happy musicals, those that are not even happy, but just not sad, and well obviously they exist in the sad and tragic musicals. There are serious moments like unrequited love, death, prostitution, misery, discrimination, racism, gang violence and others.

I was well aware that sad was a musical emotion from before college. But I did not identify the sad moments as dark or serious. I hardly remember what sad was like in those days and did forget which shows they happened to be in. But it wasn’t forgotten in Wicked. I feel like in the college years, that emotion decided to start from the beginning and reached a degree that almost seemed impossible.

Possible Spoilers:

There are some serious moments that I keep on overlooking. These are moments I know happen in certain musicals, but keep on overlooking them. I always overlook parts of the serious side in Wicked even though I know it is in there. I never have overlooked the love triangle. It is the whole discrimination side of the story and the Wizard’s desire for power that keeps on being overlooked. That is partially due to the fact that I still view Wicked through the eyes of a middle schooler even though I also view it through the eyes of a college student. Another reason why I keep overlooking it is because the core of Wicked is the friendship between Glinda and Elphaba and not so much about the whole discrimination situation even though that is still quite important to the plot.

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But there are some musicals where the serious side just cannot be overlooked. Les Mis, Rent, and West Side Story are musicals that there is no way you can overlook the serious side. That is due to the fact that all three are sad musicals. West Side Story, in my opinion, is the mildest of all three and deals with gang rivalry which eventually leads to gang violence. West Side Story is Romeo and Juliet, but the main character’s names are Tony and Maria and a main difference is that one of the two main characters survive.

Rent deals with HIV/AIDS, which is the main serious moment the show focuses on, but there are other moments of seriousness. Roger for instance is dealing with depression  and Mimi is a heroin addict. It may have less deaths than West Side Story, but in my opinion, it is even sadder than WWS.maxresdefault

The saddest musical in my opinion so far is Les Mis. It deals with prostitution, poverty, unrequited love, a high death toll, injustice, abuse and other heartbreaking things. Without Les Mis, it still would be quite difficult to find other serious moments in other musicals.

All of the characters in some way experience something tragic in their lives. Cosette faces horrible abuse as a child and later at the end of the show, her father, Jean Valjean dies. Jean Valjean faces hard labor, injustice, and has to spend his life as an ex-convict. Fantine’s storyline is very heartbreaking because she was abandoned by her lover leaving her to be a single parent, has to leave her daughter in the hands of the Thenardiers, gets fired from her job and has to turn to prostitution to provide for her child, but little does she know that the Thenardiers are horribly abusing Cosette and later dies, but dies knowing her child will be safe and protected knowing that Jean Valjean will raise her daughter as his own.

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The Thenardiers don’t really seem to experience anything tragic, but their inn eventually goes bankrupt. Eponine, their daughter, does not have many good things happen in her life because she was raised to be a criminal and has to face horrible abuse by her parents and she feels unloved, neglected and lonely because she is left to fend for herself since her parents don’t even care or even love her. On top of all of this, she has to face unrequited love for Marius, but the really heartbreaking part about this situation is that Marius is the only light in her miserable life, but yet she can’t have him. She does not really get to experience happiness, but eventually she does after she gets shot at the barricade, which ends up being fatal, and ends up dying in Marius’ arms.

Enjolras, Gavroche and the students (excluding Marius) all lose their lives in the rebellion as well. Gavroche is the Thenardiers’ son, but the students take him in and they end up becoming like his family.

Javert is a tragic character who was born inside of a jail and does not seem to have much of a tragic life, but after realizing his beliefs and views of the world were wrong, misery comes crashing down on him in a matter of seconds after realizing that Valjean has changed. Javert always believed that “once a criminal always a criminal” and strictly follows the law, which eventually leads to his downfall eventually leading him to commit suicide. Marius, the survivor of the barricade, has to deal with survivor’s guilt and he literally lost all of his friends at the barricades including Eponine. All of these Les Mis characters in some shape or form experience something tragic in their lives. Some of them have very empty lives and some don’t, but still they all belong in Les Mis.

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One thing that South Pacific deals with is interracial marriage, which does touch on the idea of racism in a way. It does bring up the fact that racism is taught, which is expressed through the song “You’ve got to be carefully taught”. Both relationships, which are between Nellie and Emelie and Liat and Joe Cable both have their serious nature, but one of them turns out to be tragic. The relationship between Liat and Joe Cable, a sub-plot, is tragic because Joe Cable does leave Liat because he knows his family will not approve even though he loves Liat himself and while on a dangerous mission, Joe Cable gets killed. The relationship between Nellie and Emelie, the main relationship. almost didn’t happen in the end because Nellie left him after hearing about his interracial children, but in the end came back to him and Emelie got rescued from the dangerous mission he was on with Joe Cable.

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Even Phantom of the Opera expresses levels of darkness. It after all is a haunting musical but at the same time a romantic musical. The entire story is a love triangle between Christine, Raoul, and the Phantom. The Phantom’s story is one of unrequited love, but at the same time he is judged for his deformed face and does not have a very happy life, but rather a very heartbreaking one. The serious side mainly applies to the Phantom and he does not respond very well to his unrequited love due to acting in destructive ways and tries to get Raoul killed.

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The serious side of musicals is just as important as the comic side of musicals. You need to have the darkness because it does add incredible texture and balance to the world of musicals. You cannot have all musicals just having comic and happy moments. Having the serious moments adds more strength to a plot than what it appears. The negative emotions come from those serious moments.

While I still associate musicals with comedies,  I think the moments of seriousness and non-seriousness moments are very even and are well-balanced out. But yet there are still serious moments that are still overlooked even if I know they happen.There are other musicals that I know that have the serious moments that I did not include above, which include Cats, Fiddler on the Roof, Man of La Mancha, Lion King, Beauty and the Beast, and even Newsies because they all have to put up with the negative emotions at some point.

What are your opinions about the serious moments of musicals?