Negative Emotions- What is the Point

The musical theatre world is known to be comical and funny, but also emotional. True, there are a LOT of happy musicals, but there are tragic ones (which I learned the hard way). In middle school, through Wicked, I was able to discover sad- as in it came to the forefront meaning it became a core emotion. I defiantly knew it was common by just ONE musical. So I was able to understand WHY we needed sad in musicals- it was for believability and for a character to become complex; there were some things that were missing that I didn’t realize. At least I understood something- the basic point of sad, and that it existed and was core.

Then, Les Mis entered. I had told myself TRAGEDIES did not exist in musicals. I had told myself emotion couldn’t push past sad- meaning I did not know it could NOT get more devastating then it already was. That basically means I was blind to HEARTBREAK. I had told myself DEATH was unmemorable and that there was no way a song could exist in a death scene. Well, you got all of those disproven in just ONE musical. I had to learn this the hard way. The first time I watched the film- I was shocked and confused, and believe it or not called Les Mis TOO DEPRESSING and did not know if I liked it. I had told myself in high school, I would NEVER love a tragedy- that might be part of why I was having a hard time with Les Mis in the beginning. YES, that was the beginning of my Les Mis journey. December 2012.

March 2013 (I think)- I don’t know why, but I told myself to watch that Les Mis film a 2nd time. This time, by knowing Les Mis was tragic, I was able to calm down. I began to notice something- there was something about the musical that makes it more than tragic. I noticed it strongly at the end- I felt uplifted, but I wanted to know why. I went from calling it too depressing to calling it inspiring and uplifting.

So, the core emotions of sad and heartbreak are meant to be in musicals. They actually are in more musicals then non-musical fans think: Wicked, Newsies, Beauty and the Beast, Lion King, South Pacific, Sound of Music, Phantom of the Opera, Miss Saigon, West Side Story, Rent and Les Mis- I intentionally ended with the tragic musicals to show that even happy musicals have sad and tragic moments. Why do you think there has to be sad and heartbreaking moments in musicals?

Well, music is an universal language. Sad and heartbreak are a part of life- those two lead to other emotions. In the musical world- sad and heartbreak are also connected to love. The strongest of musicals have heartbreak in them. Those make the musicals feel more real and complex. If sad and heartbreak did not exist- there would not be conflict in musicals at all. Conflict is the cause of heartbreaking, sad, and tragic events. Think about the love triangles and the tragic love stories- there would have to be heartbreak, loneliness, anger and pain or else they would become dry and wouldn’t be needed. The love triangles I love the most are complex, strong, and add texture to those musicals: Phantom of the Opera, Les Mis, and Wicked automatically come to mind.

How would you feel if sad and heartbreak did NOT exist in musicals?

2 thoughts on “Negative Emotions- What is the Point

  1. I think it’s good to have at least some element of grief in musicals. The potential for those emotions is huge and, if you don’t have them, you don’t have anything to compare the happy emotions to!


    • You literally would not have 1) conflict 2) a story and 3) the positive emotions would be less strong (because how would you know about them if the negative emotions weren’t there)


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