Musicals – you either love them, or you hate them. If you love them, you really freaking love them. There is nothing more magical and exciting than a story told with music and dancing. But, musicals aren’t all just dancing and singing, many of our most beloved musicals have deep meaning and important lessons to follow in our everyday lives.
There’s No Day But Today
Starting off with a personal favorite, Rent is a musical that has it all. Things in the musical all happen so quickly – love, breakups, promotions, and even death – and that just goes to show that there really is no day but today and that there’s no point in waiting until tomorrow to do something worthwhile, when that day may never come. The musical is also oozing with other fantastic life lessons, including: forget regret or life is yours to miss, give into love or live in fear, you should open up to what you don’t know, and that the perfect way to measure your life is in seasons of love.
It’s Important to Stand Up for What’s Right, No Matter the Cost
This is a lesson that could probably ring true for many stories, but I had Hairspray in mind for this one. The protagonist of the story, Tracy Turnblad, an eager go-getter, is a little ahead of her time in the segregated sixties, where not just people of color, but anyone who was different was discriminated against. Tracy fights her own battles while being discriminated against because of her weight, and stands up for her African American friends because it’s the right thing to do, even though she knows that she would end up facing serious legal trouble.
Every Evil Has a Backstory
We all know the story of the Wicked Witch from the Wizard of Oz, but in Wicked, we see things from the Witch’s, introduced in Wicked as Elphaba, view. In Wicked, Elphaba wasn’t born evil – quite the opposite. She’s friendly, compassionate, and eager to learn and go off to college. It isn’t until she faces adversities and cruelty from the world that she hardens into a less than friendly character. Which leads into our next musical life lesson…
Be Careful How You Treat People Who Are Different
In The Phantom of the Opera, the Phantom is obviously an evil character, but as we learned in Wicked, no one is born evil. After facing rejection and hatred because of his disfigured face, he, like Elphaba, hardened into an “evil” character. While the Phantom is obviously sinister, underneath, most evil characters are really just someone who is misunderstood and hurting and wanting to belong and feel loved. That’s a feeling that most can relate to.
Don’t Eat Meat Pies, You Might Be Eating One of Your Neighbors
Another personal favorite here, Sweeney Todd and the Demon Barber of Fleet Street is proof that even the grimmest of subjects become upbeat and fun when music and dancing is added. Benjamin Barker, a barber fueled by revenge, takes his revenge on the city of London by re-opening his barber shop on Fleet Street, but instead of giving them a nice shave, he gives them a nice slice across the neck, where he then dumps them into the basement for Mrs. Lovett to bake them into meat pies to sell in her meat pie restaurant. Try the priest!
Don’t Dream It, Be It
The cult classic, Rocky Horror Picture Show has been thriving since it debuted in the seventies. “Don’t dream it, be it,” teaches that dreams are all and well, but dreams alone do nothing. You have to go out there and strive to be those dreams, which Dr. Frank N. Furter clearly does in his castle of outlandish folk. The musical also teaches us important lessons about gender and sex.
Love and Compassion is Priceless
This lesson can be seen alone in Les Miserables in Valjean’s “transformation from a hate-filled and hardened criminal into a well respected philanthropist.” His transformation began when a priest showed Valjean a kindness that he was completely undeserving of. Valjean, rightfully confused by such a kindness, decided to make a life change when he realized the power of love and compassion.
We’re All in This Together
High School Musical is a guilty pleasure for most, whether you are willing to admit it or not. Yes, it’s cheesy. Yes, it’s corny. But, it’s upbeat, happy, and does include important lessons about love and friendship. At the end of the day, we have to work together because, let’s face it – we really are all in this together.