Musical theatre is rapidly changing, yet still holds true to its overarching themes. These themes have developed over the years and have impacted countless generations. The underlying messages found in Broadway shows can alter your perspective without even realizing. For the average theatre lover, they can belt out every show tune from the album and give you random facts about the show. These people never truly explore the theme of a show. Here are some of the themes and life lessons from some of the most popular shows on Broadway:
Shows like Hamilton, Les Misérables, and Phantom of the Opera all have this underlying theme of encouragement. Hamilton shows the impact words can have and the importance of being dedicated to causes you believe in. While history had its eyes on Hamilton to be a Major General, the impact Hamilton had with words allowed him to fight and established The First National Bank.
Les Miserable, based on a book written in 1862, gives us a view of the French Revolution. Jean Valjean fights to regain his life after being put in jail. Once he leaves, he finds the strength within himself to make sure he never relives being prisoner #24601. This constant running, metaphorically and literally, allows Jean Valjean to fight for what he wants and not let his past stop him.
Finally, Phantom of the Opera. Over the years many fans have seen the driven and unique character that is Christine Daaé. Daaé shows her passion to be an opera singer and yet she is conflicted about her love in the opera house and the outside world. She loves her childhood sweetheart and fights (literally) the Phantom to be with him. Christine is a strong and dedicated character to show the true strength of fighting for what you want.
This theme encompasses shows like Newsies and Dear Evan Hansen. Newsies, the Disney 2012 hit, tells the story of the 1899 News Strike in New York City. The story follows Jack Kelly and rest of the Newsies fighting for larger wages and a better life. Jack rallies up all the newsies to strike. After their success, Jack thought he wanted to move to Sanat Fe, but he accepts the changes in his life and realizes that everything he needs is in New York.
Another show that teaches us that change is inevitable is the Tony award-winning musical, Dear Evan Hansen. The story revolves around Evan Hansen and Connor Murphy. Sadly with Connor’s passing, Evan, a shy and awkward teenage boy, gets looped into Connor’s story. Throughout the musical, Evan has to find the courage to use his voice to speak the truth. He finds that his voice is so powerful and before Connor, he never had the courage to use it. Even though the story revolves around mental health and the struggles that Evan faces, it also sheds light on how change can be good for us, we may just discover our own power.
One of the most common themes of Broadway is defying stereotypes. The shows that I feel are the strongest to convey this message are Wicked and Legally Blonde. Wicked has conveyed this message to audiences from around the world during it’s 15 year run on Broadway. In the land of Oz, Elphaba has to defy all the expectations that people have thrown her way. She is seen as someone who people should avoid and doesn’t know what it feels like to be loved. Elphaba follows her heart in wanting to meet the wizard. She follows the yellow brick road, falls in love, and meets a best friend, Glinda. The “Wicked Witch of the West” has a very big heart and caring soul, who knew! She truly defies anything in her way and gravity.
Another show that defies stereotypes is Legally Blonde. This show, just like the movie, follows Elle Woods on her path to Harvard Law. Nearly everyone there does not think Elle is cut out for the hard work that it takes to be a successful lawyer. She is treated poorly because of the stereotypes surrounding for her blonde hair, love of fashion, and bubbly personality. She defies this by working harder and overcoming all obstacles in her way. She graduates as valedictorian from Harvard law (SPOILER). She shows that the stereotypes people use against her do not limit her success in life
Broadway continuously gives people a new perspectives while allowing fans to escape to fantasy worlds that parallel reality. Every new show offers more themes to explore, but some themes are timeless.
Jenny Katz is a BBG from North Texas Oklahoma Region who has met her best friends through BBYO.
All views expressed on content written for The Shofar represent the opinions and thoughts of the individual authors. The author biography represents the author at the time in which they were in BBYO.
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