A musical should leave an impression. You should be invested in the characters and their fate and the songs should either getting your toes tapping or your eyes welling. Musicals do sadness so very well. You can feel it all – regret, fear, anger, unrequited feelings – everything that colors love. I love a good tearjerking song so here’s my pick of the most beautifully sad tunes from the musicals.
Musical - West Side Story
The brilliance of Leonard Bernstein and Stephen Sondheim shines through in this modern retelling of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet.
Musical - Miss Saigon
A fitting song for a love story that doesn’t have a happy ending.
Musical - Blood Brothers
This is one of those songs that will break your heart into a million pieces even if you don’t know the story.
Musical - A Little Night Music
One of my favorite songs ever and this performance by Barbra Streisand is stunning.
Musical - Oliver!
Nancy sings a declaration of unconditional love for a man who beats her and it is not easy listening.
Musical – Les Misérables
An urchin walks Paris at night pretending her crush walks beside her - an ultimate anthem of unrequited love.
Musical – The King and I
Lady Thiang tragically tries to find the good in her husband who is a bit of an asshat despite being the King of Siam.
Musical – Evita
I think this version by Julie Covington is the very best of them all.
Musical – A Chorus Line
Not a song about romantic love but a tale of when dancers realize their careers can end in an instant with the simplest injury. They sing how much they love their craft and will be free of regret doing what they do out of love.
Musical – Follies
A woman reminisces on her infatuation—now obsession—for her former lover who chose to marry her roommate instead of her.
Musical – Ragtime
Not a dry eye in the house. A woman apologizes to her infant child for burying him in the ground because he reminded her of his father.
Musical – Jesus Christ Superstar
The torch ballad of Mary Magdalene. In the musical she is presented as bearing an unrequited love for the title character.
Musical – Cats
So much pain and it really makes you forget this is a musical about cats.
Musical – The Color Purple
A torch song for a woman who, despite all the hardships she has faced over the course of the musical, feels a deep love for herself at last.
Musical – Carousel
If you’re an English soccer fan, this song has lost its tearjerkiness because it was adopted by Liverpool Football Club as its anthem and it doesn’t have the poignancy as in the musical.
Musical – See What I Wanna See
Not a blockbuster musical but this number has stayed with me ever since I saw it performed in London.
Musical – Sunset Boulevard
So happy, and yet so sad at the same time…and a beautiful melody.
So, please tell me – your favorites?
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