How can you Tell when a Musical is Meaningful

This is a hard question to answer. Musicals fans have meaningful musicals in their lives. How can you tell if a musical if is meaningful? I will try to explain it through some of my meaningful musicals. Some of the reasons are obvious, but some not so much.

Annie:

  • This is one of the most meaningful musicals of my childhood musicals. But why was it meaningful? It was my favorite musical at the time. Yes, I only enjoyed musicals in elementary school, but they were the stepping stones until the love was sparked. I believe it was meaningful because of the character, Annie. I was optimistic as a child and so was Annie. Relating to a character is one way to tell if a musical is meaningful. Years later, in 2014 when I finally saw the stage show, I felt like a kid again. It will always have that nostalgic feeling- there is something special about childhood musicals.
Annie in the movie

Sound of Music:

  • Sound of Music kind of has the same meaning as Annie. It played a huge part in my childhood before my love for musicals was sparked. Sometimes you don’t realize the meaning of a musical until years later. I do remember that “Edelweiss” was my first piano recital song. “Edelweiss” is my favorite song from song from Sound of Music. Years later of seeing the movie, in 2015, I became a bigger fan of Sound of Music. The emotional and vulnerable level increased all because of “Edelweiss”- sad entered that song- it never was in that musical- I think it was combo of the nostalgia, and the song itself. I felt like a kid again. You know- childhood musicals that are meaningful have a special nostalgia in them that brings you back to your child- that is what is so special about them. One of the themes in it is family- I think that theme is one of the reasons why it is meaningful- after all without my family, I wouldn’t have become the musical fan I am today. It is not just that theme that makes it meaningful- I think it also is the theme of music that makes it meaningful. So even themes can make a musical meaningful.

Wicked:

This musical had a huger impact on me than Annie and Sound of Music combined. My first memory of it was seeing it on Broadway with my mom- I was 12 at the time. My favorite song at the time was “Popular”, and still is. I came into the Gerswhin Theater unaware of the impact Wicked would have on my life. Wicked sparked my love for musicals- this truly was the beginning of my journey. I don’t have vivid memories of that night on Broadway, but the impact truly shows. So, a meaningful musical can also be the musical that sparked your love for them.

Wicked was the musical that taught me what it meant to have an emotional connection. Previously, I did not know what it meant to have an emotional connection to characters and plot. Wicked showed me that through Elphaba, Glinda, and Fiyero especially towards Elphaba. Wicked taught me about the complexity and emotional side of musicals. Now there were four core emotions: excitement, love, joy, and sad: I thought those were the only core emotions. So Wicked was key to many things- it was basically my vision in musicals: spectacle, dance, comedy, romance, complexity, positive and negative emotions in the score, and a strong emotional connection. I thought I knew everything about musicals (or did I?)

Mom and I at the Gershwin Theater in New York

Les Mis:

There is a reason why I said (did I) in my Wicked post. Les Mis went against everything I thought I knew. I did have a rocky start to Les Mis. I first saw the film in December 2012- I came in so blind to Les Mis: I was shocked and confused that it was a tragedy. I did not know how to respond. At the end of the film, I did not know if I liked Les Mis. Despite the confusion, I started researching Les Mis anyways without knowing why.

March 2013- I decided to watch the Les Mis film a 2nd time. This time I was prepared to watch the tragedy. I was able to calm down. I started to realize there is something special in Les Mis. I became a fan of Les Mis. By summer 2013, I was officially obsessed with the musical. Les Mis turned my love of musicals into a passion. So if a musical turned your love of musicals into a passion, that makes it meaningful. In addition, in high school, I told myself I will NEVER love a tragedy- Les Mis changed that opinion. Les Mis goes beyond its tragedy- those are the only tragedies I want to see. Even the message of a musical makes it meaningful.

Les Mis went against everything I thought I knew about musicals. Originally, I thought all musicals were happy and comic, but capable of sad songs. In theatre, I thought death scenes could never be memorable especially towards a favorite character- Les Mis proved me wrong and thought a song couldn’t happen at a death scene. I believed that the emotion of sad could go not go beyond that emotion- heartbreak entered the picture. The emotional nature of musicals went to a nature I thought was impossible. I just said some things Les Mis went against. Usually in a musical, I know my favorite song, but Les Mis I can’t choose. I also can’t choose my favorite character. I only know my favorite survivor- that’s it.

Enjolras, Marius, and the students during "Red and Black"

Rent:

  • Like Les Mis, this is another sad musical I love. It is the message that makes it meaningful. To live in the moment and to live in love instead of fear. Rent takes place during the HIV/AIDS epidemic. Those who have HIV deal with fear and uncertainty- they know they are going to die- that is what they have to deal with everyday. They live everyday as if its their last- in the present instead of the past. These characters celebrate life.The message of a musical makes it meaningful. This message is hard to ignore.

Phantom of the Opera

  • Phantom of the Opera is a meaningful musical to me. I have a hard time explaining why. I think everyone has musicals like that. I think any musical that you have an emotional connection to are meaningful (at the same time, you have to like the music). I was spellbound from start to finish and was choked up watching it. The songs are very different from a number of musicals- just like Les Mis’ songs are very different. Maybe it is how different the songs are. I think it is the emotional connection I have to Phantom of the Opera. So emotional connection is one of the ways you can if a musical is meaningful.
Christine and Raoul during "All I Ask of You"

Pippin:

  • Just like with other musicals I put on here, the message is important. Pippin is trying to find out where he belongs. This is part of why Pippin is meaningful to me. This is one of the four musicals I saw in 2015. This message can apply to anyone- basically to anyone who is trying to figure out where they belong in life, and that is their “Corner of the Sky”.
"Magic to Do" during the Revival
“Magic to Do” during Pippin Revival

Newsies:

  • It is time to get a Disney musical on here. Newsies has been in my life since August 2016. I had an emotional connection from the start- that is what you want. If you have an emotional connection from the beginning- that is a clue that the musical will be meaningful. I became emotionally connected to the intimate bond between Jack Kelly and Crutchie and quickly after I emotionally bonded with all the Newsies. It wasn’t until two weeks later I realized that Newsies was a meaningful musical to me. I was listening to “Seize the Day”, my favorite song from the musical, and these lyrics popped up- “courage cannot erase our fear. courage is when we face our fear”. From those lyrics alone- I realized Newsies was meaningful. So even just a few lyrics from a musical can tell you a musical is meaningful.
Jack and Crutchie singing "Santa Fe (Prologue)

I didn’t name all of my meaningful musicals, but does tell you how do you know when a musical is meaningful. Here is a quick recap.

  • A musical sparks your love for musicals
  • A musical is responsible for your passion for musicals
  • Having an emotional connection in the musical to characters and the musical
  • Certain lyrics- that does sound the craziest, but it is true
  • The message
  • Important musicals from your childhood

4 thoughts on “How can you Tell when a Musical is Meaningful

  1. I LOVE Wicked!! I have seen it live a few times and each time it gets better and better! That music always just gives me chills! I have chills talking about it right now – It’s so magical!!!

    Like

    • I have loved Wicked for 12 years and 5 months now. I was 12 years old the first time I saw it- I was in NYC the first time I saw it. It was a date with my mom. However, all I remember was being with my mom and what my favorite song was- it was “Popular”; that is why it is still my favorite song from the show.

      The other three times were on tour in my hometown of Charlotte- I fall into this kind of trap each time I see it. Each time, I literally delve deeper into the love triangle and friendship that I keep on forgetting about the other storylines.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. It’s cool to see the various things that can make a musical meaningful. It’s cool to see how different musicals affect us and different people as well!

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