Musicals that make you cry
August 10, 2004 3:34 PM   Subscribe

This probably won't generate as many responses as this AskMeFi thread, but it inspired me to ask: What Broadway/Off-Broadway musicals, or scenes from musicals, make you break down and bawl? Even if they're performed by amateur groups (high schools, community theatre, summer camp)? Especially if they're performed by amateur groups?

My list:

- Carousel, especially "What's The Use Of Wondrin'?" and the ending. "...And all the rest is talk" tears me up and hurts. It is possibly the most achingly beautiful song in all of musical theatre.

- The first song, "Maybe", from Annie. Orphan kids wishing for a home--how can you not bawl?

- Nearly all of Carnival!, especially "Love Makes the World Go Round", and that ending. Practically every scene with Lili in it, in fact.

Hmm, the previous three examples all have something in common: female naivete mixed with the search for love.

- The Fantasticks, the ending--"They Were You" and the reprise/changed-lyrics of "deep in December.." The show is very much a Wizard of Oz type "you don't need to leave home" fable, and I don't know if this actually hurts its final impact just a little--the Boy and Girl characters are more archetypes than people, and I think it might be more painful/wonderful to watch them as real characters, as opposed to just symbolic figures.

- West Side Story's ending is heartbreaking ("how many bullets, Chino?"), but in a similar vein as my comment about The Fantasticks, Tony and Maria aren't wholly fleshed out as people, more as just the Boy and the Girl, so I think most of the impact of the scene comes from Maria finally, finally emerging as a believable, angry human, instead of the Naive Juliet Stand-In she's been for nearly all of the show.

- "Being Alive" from Company, but it's happy-crying, not sad-crying.

- And if you want to cry in a totally different sort of way, you've never seen Follies until you've seen it performed at an all-girls summer camp by a bunch of 15-year-olds on a tiny stage with no scenery and two male counselors standing in for Buddy and Ben.
posted by Asparagirl to Media & Arts (16 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Asparagirl said what I was going to say. The final scene of West Side Story.
posted by litlnemo at 3:43 PM on August 10, 2004

Rent can get me, especially "Goodbye Love."
posted by jmd82 at 3:54 PM on August 10, 2004

I sobbed the entire first half of Mamma Mia. My only explanation for not sobbing throught the second half, (wedding), is that I was all cried out.
posted by geekyguy at 4:47 PM on August 10, 2004

Sweeney Todd! When Sweeney kills the old woman, and the aftermath with Mrs. Lovett. "And life is for the alive, my dear. So let's keep living it, really living it --". Or, not.
posted by onlyconnect at 4:48 PM on August 10, 2004

I haven't seen any amateur musical without weeping ;)
posted by dhoyt at 5:08 PM on August 10, 2004

dhoyt beat me to it!!!!
posted by .kobayashi. at 5:13 PM on August 10, 2004

Lil' Abner.

My daughter was Mammy Yokum.
posted by konolia at 5:53 PM on August 10, 2004

1776: the signing of the Declaration at the end, while the bell tolls ominously, can definitely induce some patriotic sniffles. (Of course, a bad Richard Henry Lee can also bring on tears, along with some serious cringing.)
posted by thomas j wise at 6:01 PM on August 10, 2004

Carousel & West Side Story.

And on the play side of the equation, Our Town. Always.
posted by Vidiot at 6:52 PM on August 10, 2004

Cabaret - the stage production, especially the recent one that came around a few years back. The movie has a sombre ending, but the end of the revived stage production is reminiscent of the realities of WWII and persecution and gas ovens...and had me sobbing.
posted by icetaco at 10:15 PM on August 10, 2004

When I was in high school, we put on Man of La Mancha. At the end, there was the most beautiful, haunting clarinet solo played when Don Quixote dies. And the priest sings a psalm:

De profundis clamo ad te,
Domine, Domine,
Audi vocem meam!
Fiant aures tuae intendae
Ad vocem obsecrationis meae.
Si delictorum memoriam serva veris,
Domine, Domine, quis sustinebit.

I was very upset to learn that all the "real" productions of it I've seen either cut or shorten this part, especially the clarinet solo, to where it's nothing special at all. It's so terrible, because the music is so beautiful that even our meager high school production was able to make it absolutely heartbreaking.
posted by Khalad at 4:11 AM on August 11, 2004

Rent the movie Camp. It made me bawl like a baby. A movie for anyone who cries at an amateur musical, but without the painful amateurness. . .

full disclosure, I'm a drama camp vet.
posted by rainbaby at 5:39 AM on August 11, 2004

I'm always moved by the songs of revelation or epiphany:

"Nothing" in A Chorus Line. "Mr. Cellophane" in Chicago. "Close Every Door" in Dreamcoat. The finale of Pippin: "I never came close, my love, we never came near, it never was there, I think it was here." Not on the same lines, but I also would include "Try to Remember" from The Fantasticks only as I haven't been able to hear it in the past few years without bawling like a widow at a funeral.

Of course there are a host of others I can't remember just because the question's been asked. But the flip side of dhoyt's comment: being involved (behind the scenes) in amateur theatre, I frequently found myself in tears from very mundane things, just because the cast finally pulled the daggone thing off!
posted by Dreama at 6:37 AM on August 11, 2004

>>I sobbed the entire first half of Mamma Mia.

Me too, but only because it was the biggest piece of god-awful shite i've ever seen on broadway, and i was lamenting for my wasted time and money.

That said, I've never cried for broadway, and I've seen countless shows. However, I know three people who recently saw the Molina Fiddler on the Roof (currently on b'way), and were crying all the way through. However, I'm waiting for the upcoming NYC b'way Fall 2004 staging of Steel Magnolias, which will be my own personal sob-fest.
posted by naxosaxur at 7:45 AM on August 11, 2004

And I'm Telling You I'm Not Going--Dreamgirls,
I Know Where I've Been--Hairspray,
and that song from Caroline or Change that was on the Tonys, and pretty much most of Into The Woods.

As for plays, most Sam Shepard plays make me cry, and Our Town, and of course, Angels in America.
posted by amberglow at 8:42 AM on August 11, 2004

At least half a dozen different places in Les Miserables.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 9:57 AM on August 11, 2004 [1 favorite]

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