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.

Rent

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”.

Conclusion

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

The Concept of “Found Family”

There are various families in the world of storytelling. The most obvious relates to biological and adopted families. But, there is this concept called “found family”——as in not what we think of when we think of families.

The Weasley Family

Yes, they are an actual family in the Harry Potter series, but in many ways they are a “found family” for our protagonist. Back home at the Dursleys, Harry Potter’s life is terrible—-they are abusive towards him. The Weasleys in many ways take him in as one of their own- Ron, their youngest son, is one of Harry Potter’s best friends. Harry Potter ends up spending some Christmas and Summer vacations at the Weasley family.

Hotel Deucalion and Unit 919

This was the “found family” for Morrigan Crow. Until she was rescued by Jupiter North, she was in an unloving family thanks to being born on an unlucky day. Jupiter takes her to Nevermoor, hoping she ends up being a part of the Wundrous Society. Morrigan ends up living at the Hotel Decualion, a fun hotel—–Jupiter, Fenestra, and Frank live there as well (part of the “found family” Morrigan ended up with)Unit 919 ended up being her “found family” with the Wundrous Society. But only two of them are able to truly accept her- Hawthorne and Cadence.

Newsies

Living on the streets, the Newsies form a close brotherly bond that feel like family. They stick together no matter what. Jack Kelly, their leader, cares a lot about his brothers especially Crutchie. They strongly believe in their cause (the strike) and don’t give up.

Friends of the ABC

They are so similar to the Newsies. Just like the Newsies, they have a close brotherly bond that feel like family. Even they have leader, whose name is Enjolras. They even have a cause (the uprising) they strongly believe in.

The Rent Crew

Even the friends in Rent feel like family. Matt and Roger are best friends, who live together. Yes, there are disagreements at times, but yet they still are close. Roger, Mimi, Maureen, Joanne, Collins, Angel, and Mark are close that they really feel like family——they live in the moment and in love.

Unique Families in Storytelling

When we think of family, we think of either biological or adoptive ones. But, what about the other types of families? I am referring to groups of people that feel like family- otherwise known as “found family”- not what we tend to think of. What are some of those?

Rent Family

This is the group of friends found in Rent. Yes, they may be friends but they are close. Mark, Roger, Mimi, Joanne, Maureen, Collins, and Angel have an unique bond. They may have their struggles since part of them are struggling with HIV and then there are the struggles found within love relationships. However, as a family they live in the moment and in love.

The Newsies

A group of brothers that feel like family. Jack Kelly is their leader, who is best friends with Crutchie. They have a cause (the strike) they strongly believe in and don’t give up even though it eventually leaves Jack with some inner conflict. He is willing to call of the strike just to protect his brothers. He shares such an intimate and close bond to Crutchie.

Friends of the ABC

The students in Les Mis are so similar to The Newsies. Both are a group of brothers that feel like family and have a cause they strongly believe in and never give up. Just like the Newsies, they have a leader, who is Enjolras. You see a lot of hope and passion when it comes to them. You even see a time when they are at their most vulnerable- during “Drink with Me”. Unluckily, they lose their lives at the end, but at least they stood up for what they believed in.

Hotel Decualion and Unit 919

I am referring to the “found family” Morrigan Crow found. She found it at both the hotel she lives at and with her unit in the Wundrous Society. Jupiter North, Fenestra, and Frank also stay at the hotel. Hawthorne and Cadence are her closest friends in her Unit.

Unique Couples in Musical Theatre

Romance is the most common theme in the world of musicals. The vast majority of the couples are typical couples- meaning heterosexual. What about the ones that are the complete opposite? I decided to mention those today.

Angel and Collins- SPOILERS

They are a gay couple in Rent. Both of them have HIV, and make the most out of their relationship. You clearly see how much they love each other in “I’ll Cover You”. Even when Angel is dying, Collins is still by his side- you notice this during “Without You”.

Maureen and Joanne

In my opinion, this is the most problematic relationship in Rent. For starter’s they seem to fight the most. Maureen is actually crazy, but still has a sweet side. Joanne can’t stand her at times. You clearly can see how problematic this lesbian couple is during “Take me or Leave Me”. They literally keep on breaking up.

Has Rent Aged Well?

In 1996, the Rock musical, Rent, came to the Nederlander Theater on Broadway. It was based off the tragic opera, La Bohème, which is a tragic love story between Rodolfo and Mimi. It has become one of the successful musicals. It centers around the HIV/AIDS epidemic. Rent deals with a lot of controversial topics such as the LGBT community and a drug addict. Tragically, Johnathon Larson, the composer of the musical, died the day before the first preview, but his legacy lives on in the musical.

It has been debated whether or not Rent has aged well or not. I fell in love with Rent September of 2012 by songs alone. In my opinion, Rent has aged well. Just because the HIV/AIDS epidemic is long gone, it doesn’t mean it hasn’t aged well. Don’t forget, last year, we started being in the middle of a pandemic—so it does connect to that. Its message of living in the moment and living life in love is still relevant. Same with the other controversial topics. As a matter of fact, I actually can relate to the characters of Rent- yes, I don’t have HIV, but have Epilepsy. True, not the same thing, but the struggles are similar- as in the stresses, the anxiety, and the fear. I can understand what they are going through.

Just like Les Mis, I am an emotional wreck in Rent. Rent actually led me to wanting to see La Bohème. I originally started with seeing the Met’s live stream of the opera in cinemas- and eventually saw the opera in person. La Bohème was the final show I saw in 2020- it was through Opera Carolina.