Meaningful Sad Musicals of My Life

True, there are people who believe ALL musicals are happy and comic. However, the true musical theatre fans are aware there are tragic and heartbreaking musicals. I had to discover the truth the hard way—–only because I was close-minded to tragedies in high school. I literally thought the genre was pure sad. Turns out I would be proven wrong in more ways than one. So, what heartbreaking musicals would prove to be the most meaningful?

Les Mis

This was actually expected. A powerful, epic, inspiring, and enlightening musical. A musical with a beautiful underlying spirituality. Complex and amazing characters, who sing such beautiful, emotional, and powerful songs, as in songs that hard to choose your favorite from. I can’t even choose my favorite character. Weird that I can’t choose my favorite character, but my favorite survivor. I actually am obsessed with Les Mis- the stage show was seen six times.

Below comes from each time I saw the stage show: 2013 (3x), 2015, 2017, and 2019

Les Mis taught me a LOT- 1) death can be memorable and can happen through song, 2) tragedies are more than heartbreak, 3) tragic musicals exist, 4) heartbreak is a musical emotion—just a basic list.


True, I just said Les Mis taught me I can love tragedies. But here is the funny thing- I fell in love with Rent before Les Mis. But I fell in love with Rent by songs alone- meaning they were out of context, so I didn’t know what the characters or story were. Soon enough, I learned that Rent was a sad show——-the original reason why this musical became meaningful was because of its message. Another reasoning was that it led me to want to see La Bohème, the opera it is based off of.

However, as years went by, I found out I could relate to the musical. I actually can relate to the characters’ struggle. Yes, I have Epilepsy and the characters have HIV/AIDS, but the emotions are similar- as in uncertainty, fear, stress, anxiety, frustration (I get it—not so much the disease but the struggle). My favorite song in Rent is “Seasons of Love”.


Both of these musicals make me an emotional wreck. I have nothing wrong with that due to my emotional connection.

Escapes in my Life

Well, everyone has escapes in their life. For different people, they need an escape from “something”. In my case, it usually is from epilepsy—not the other disabilities I have. Yes, I have various escapes, but some feel BIGGER than others.

Musical Theatre

The power of live theater—-there are no words to describe it. There is a difference between looking at a screen versus being in an actual theater with the actors right in front of you. After all, no performance is exactly the same (even if you get the exact same cast). Only know that from experience- November 15th, November 17th, and November 24th of 2013 taught me that————-that was because it was CPCC’s production of Les Mis, but why did I see it 3x (well, once with my family and twice as an usher).

The two-way-conversation isn’t possible on screen. The actors feed off the audience and the audience feeds after the actors. So, your emotions, in some ways, are STRONGER and HEIGHTENED. But what about the live-streams in cinemas—-that really isn’t exactly in person—you are not physically there (so part of that two-way-conversation is missing).

There really is no way to describe the power of live theater


Yes, it is another escape—but not as strong as musical theatre. At least, it still is an escape. Just like the theater, you escape into the world of the characters and get lost (as in ignoring everything around you).

Bitty and Beau’s

Wait, why am I calling my job an escape? Well, it is a job I really really really love. A job that understands. The bond the employees have is incredible. I went from mainly being cashier to mainly being drink maker, two positions I really enjoy for different reasons.


To make it through life, you have to find some kind of escape. Something that makes you forget about the struggles you are going through. Or somewhere that truly understands (as in to make you feel like you are not alone). When it comes to books and musicals, you can find characters to look up to and ones you can relate to.

Solo Musical Songs Outside of the Protagonist

It is pretty amazing how many kinds of musical theatre songs there are. You have the ensemble ones, the duets, and the solos- as in the main ones. The solos, especially, make you get to know the characters, and those usually are sung by major characters. Now, I decided to list the solos NOT meant for the meant for the main character. Meaning I will not leave out antagonist songs (one character I view as the antagonist is probably an unpopular opinion).

The Songs

  1. Empty Chairs at Empty Tables
  2. On My Own
  3. I Dreamed a Dream
  4. Stars
  5. Javert’s Soliloquy
  6. Music of the Night
  7. All I Ask of You (Reprise)
  8. If I Can’t Love Her
  9. As Long as He Needs Me
  10. My Petersburg

*Yes, I view the Phantom as the antagonist in his musical*

What other non-protagonist solo songs can you think of?

Favorite Openers of Musicals

There are many important parts of a musical. In many ways, it is important to form an emotional connection to the characters- in order to have a WANT, DESIRE, and REASON to feel the emotions. How can you fully explain enjoying the negative emotions- they hurt, but your emotional connection helps. Well, the opening of a musical is the first step of creating this. Overtures don’t count- there is only one exception.

Musical Opening

  1. Overture
  2. Santa Fe (Prologue)
  3. No One Mourns the Wicked
  4. Jellicle Songs for Jellice Cats
  5. Circe of Life
  6. Magic to Do
  7. The Greatest Show
  8. Overture/Work Song
  9. Vuelie/ The Sun Shine On

Friendship Musical Duets

There are two main types of duets found in musical theatre- romance and friendship. When we hear duet, we think ROMANCE. However, there is a number of duets connected to friendship- those can be bittersweet and have a wide range of emotions. That is because some friendship songs are “goodbye” type of songs.

Friendship Duets

  1. For Good (the ultimate friendship duet)- Wicked
  2. What You Own- Rent
  3. Angel of Music- Phantom of the Opera
  4. A Little Fall of Rain- Les Mis
  5. Santa Fe (Prologue)- Newsies


Hmmm, I wish I could think of more friendship duets. For sure, I know of more friendship musical theatre songs—–just most of the ones I can think of happen to be ensemble songs.