Favorite Tragic Musical

What comes to mind when people think musicals? Spectacle, dance, comedy (even the genre is commonly associated with them), romance, positive and negative emotions, and a strong emotional connection. If the spectacle and dance isn’t really there, something has to make for it. However, tragic musicals do exist, which surprised me when I found out- I was raised on the comic and happy musicals, but became aware sad was a common emotion. So, what is my favorite tragic musical?

Les Mis

This will come of no surprise. Les MisĂ©rables has existed since 1862 (that was the year the book was published). My journey with the musical didn’t start easy. It started with the musical film- but wasn’t told it was tragic just to get me to go. To fall in love with Les Mis, had to give the film a 2nd chance. Les Mis decided to challenge a LOT on what I previously knew about musicals. 1) ALL musicals are happy and comic; 2) death scenes can never be memorable or happen during song; 3) the emotional capability- prior, I was blind to heartbreak, but not sad. The rest is history- by now, saw the stage show 6x (literally, saw it in 3 cities and 4 stage theaters). Usually in a musical I can pick my favorite song or narrow it down to like top five or top two, but can’t in Les Mis.

My 6th Time

As for the plot—-even choosing my favorite character is difficult (I was able to choose my favorite survivor though)—-yes, I do have some unpopular opinions in Les Mis. Emotionally drawn to almost all of the storylines. Amazing how everything connects- as in if you get rid of one tiny detail, the story would start unraveling itself (like a ball of yarn). Les Mis has a collection of epic, powerful, and emotional songs. Still an emotional wreck, a response that was built up over time. I love the beautiful underlying spirituality found in the story- one of the reasons why Les Mis is way more than a tragedy. It even has moving, touching, and memorable deaths, something I once thought impossible.

The way the songs connect is amazing- the fact that you do have repeating melodies (makes the sung-through concept work). If I could use one word to describe Les Mis, I would use humanity. Describing the plot isn’t easy because of how complex the story is and how easy it is to bring up spoilers.

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