Over Thanksgiving break, I was in New York City with my family. While spending time with my loved ones is always great, the highlight of the trip by far was when my sister & I went to see the Broadway hit Dear Evan Hansen. I’ve always loved musical theater, and have been lucky enough to see many amazing shows (in a few weeks I finally get to add Hamilton to my list – OMG!). Aside from the beautiful music and incredible acting, Dear Evan Hansen was so powerfully moving because of its core message. Without spoiling the plot, the show explores how social media has simultaneously connected and alienated people from one another, as well as how creating a false persona online can have serious consequences in your real life.
Every time I go to see a show, my love of musical theater goes into overdrive and I end up spending days re-listening to the cast recordings of all my favorites. As a result, I’ve recently been reminiscing on how Broadway shows are more than just great music – most of them have powerful messages behind them that can be truly inspiring for your day-to-day life. Here’s a few examples of some of my favorite shows and how their stories can be surprisingly relatable.
- Wicked. Pretty much every millennial girl I know loves Wicked. The show was released when I was 11, and I was lucky enough to go to a performance with the original Broadway cast (seeing Idina Menzel perform Defying Gravity in person is truly a life-changing experience). Wicked tells the story of the unlikely friendship between the Wicked Witch of the West and Glinda the Good. They overcome opposing personalities and viewpoints, rivalry over the same love-interest, and battle government corruption together. Their concluding song For Good reinforces the show’s overall theme of the importance of friendship and the power of unconditional love.
- Book of Mormon. This show was written by the creators of South Park, so you go into it knowing that you’re going to watch something absolutely outrageous. Like South Park, Book of Mormon is a clever, hilarious satirical piece of theater, but it also has an important theme that infuses the play with humanity and compassion. It’s true that the show certainly mocks organized religion and calls out that many religious doctrines are rigid and out of touch (the song All American Prophet is the most obvious of this and the most hilarious). However, it also reinforces that religion can do enormous good as long as people take religious teaching metaphorically and not literally; as long as people understand that all religions ultimately preach love and service underneath their superficial particulars; as long as people practice their faiths open-mindedly and are tolerant of different beliefs.
- Come From Away. I can’t recommend this show enough – it’s Come from Away is set in the week following the September 11 attacks and tells the true story of what transpired when 38 planes were ordered to land unexpectedly in the small town of Gander, Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada. It features 12 actors playing all different characters, bouncing from accent to accent in the blink of an eye. Most of all, the show is a cathartic reminder of the capacity for human kindness in even the darkest of times and the triumph of humanity over hate.