Common Trait Among Tragedies

Tragedy is a genre that can be hard to understand at first. Those stories sound like they are just sad. But in reality not true- that “catharsis” is why they are worth. I really started to notice something that is true for just about every tragic musical. Why is that just about all of them fall under the sung-through category?

The only tragic musical that is not sung-through is West Side Story, a modern version of Romeo and Juliet. This musical is dance-driven. For some odd reason, I can appreciate West Side Story and dislike the play that it is based off of.

Look at the other tragic and sad musicals: Les Mis, Miss Saigon, Rent, and Hadestown. They all just happen to be sung-through musicals. I may not have seen Hadestown yet, but for whatever reason know it is sung-through. When I read Les Misérables, the material sounded perfect for being sung-through: due to the emotional nature of the book. Both Rent and Miss Saigon are based off two operas: La Bohème and Madame Butterfly: those two operas are sung-through. Now Hadestown- yet another tragedy and still in that nature. For some strange reason, tragedies can be best expressed when the show is entirely sung. That is all because of the emotional weight tragedies bring-they have to be heartbreaking, but at the same time have so much more. Or else, they would become kind of bland and boring.

I don’t have a picture for Hadestown because I haven’t seen it. I am extremely fascinated by Hadestown especially because it is based off of a tragic myth. I have loved mythology since I was a child. Now I heard three songs from Hadetown, and love them. Charlotte is going to get Hadestown October 2021- hopefully Blumenthal doesn’t postpone the show.

Did you notice this-a lot of tragic musicals being sung-through? Why do you think that just happens to be a pattern?

10 thoughts on “Common Trait Among Tragedies

  1. This is an interesting pattern you’ve noticed! I hadn’t really noticed that, really, but come to think of it, it is pretty true! I’ve always appreciated musicals that are largely sung-through, because it’s pretty easy to get the gist of the story through songs most of the time. That’s definitely how it worked for me with Hadestown.

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    • Not all my favorite musicals are sung-through. But that appears to be a common pattern between the tragic musicals.

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    • I am a theater minor and was raised with musicals. It was the combo of Wicked and Les Mis that made me the musical fan I am today.

      “Nothing beats the power of Live theater”

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      • I don’t have this problem because I live in the US in a major touring city.

        Well, there are a lot I can recommend: even the non-stage ones.

        1. Greatest Showman
        2. Aladdin- the live action one
        3. Beauty and the Beast- the live action one
        4. Sound of Music
        5. Newsies- they actually filmed the stage show (go for that one)
        6. Phantom of the Opera- the 25th special
        7. Les Mis
        8. Mamma Mia
        9. etc…..

        Maybe I should do a post on what musicals to recommend

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