Many musicals show a range of educating and inspiring people into historical and social ideas. Musicals have long been a form of entertainment going as far back as September 1866, called The Black Crook, to the modern West End and Broadway that still makes a significant profit. The London theatre released a statement in February 2020 saying ‘The figures reveal an annual London theatre audience of over 15.3 million — nearly 1 million higher than Broadway — filling a record 80.7% of available seats and generating £799m in box office revenue.’
To begin with, in the Tony and Olivier award-winning musical, Hamilton, teaches people about the founding fathers of America. Lin-Manuel Miranda wrote and produced the hit musical in 2015, that was then performed on The Richard Rodgers Theatre. Hamilton is all about the least famous founding father and is teaching not only the American people but also the rest of the world. Hamilton might begin in 1776, but Kail said he and Miranda always intended for the show to feel relevant, holding up a mirror to society. The Guardian posted an article in 2017, about how Hamilton might begin in 1776. Still, Kail said he and Miranda always intended for the show to feel relevant, holding up a mirror to society. In the original production, Miranda, who is of Puerto Rican descent, played Hamilton; in London, Jamael Westman, born to an Irish mother and Jamaican father, takes on the role. Also in that interview, they said ‘In the stubbornly white world of British theatre, which remains a long way off from regularly casting black and minority ethnic actors in roles long-played by their white counterparts, Hamilton makes a powerful statement.’ Hamilton is showing the life of Alexander Hamilton, while also presenting the modern-day importance of the political stands like the Black Lives Matter movement.
Another example is Wicked, composed by Stephen Schwartz and was first shown on Broadway in 2003. Wicked’s story is all about the history of the Elphaba (wicked witch of the west) and Glinda; how they went to school with each other and became the characters, they are shown in The Wizard of Oz. Wicked teaches its audience about not judging someone on their appearance; Elphaba is green and is looked down upon by her peers at Shiz (the school) as they say ‘Poor Glinda, forced to reside with someone so disgusticified. We just want to tell you we’re all on your side!’ from the song ‘What is this feeling?’ The students in the song are bullying Elphaba, who later on shows that she doesn’t need the negative people in her life in the song ‘Defying Gravity’. Wicked shows that society can always treat you like an outsider, and Elphaba proves to the audience that you have to be who you are rather than what society says you should be.
Into the Woods which was composed by Stephen Sondheim, was first brought to the stage in 1987. Into the Woods shows so many powerful messages as it is written with multiple fairy tales brought in such as Little Red Riding Hood, Cinderella, Jack and the Beanstalk and Rapunzel. All these stories that were correlated by the Brother’s Grimm have different morals and lesson to learn like don’t talk to strangers and be yourself, not letting people bring you down. Also, Into the Woods teaches its lessons like the loss of a parent as Jack and Little Red Riding Hood both to lose parents in the second act of the musical and The Baker and Cinderella help them deal with the loss by singing ‘No one is alone’. ‘No one is alone’ is telling the children that they can be independent as Cinderella sings ‘ Mother can not guide you, now your on your own. Only me beside you still your not alone, no one is alone.’ Cinderella singing this is showing that there are always people there to look after you and support you; even if you can’t see them.
Modern musical ‘Dear Evan Hansen’ from 2016, talks about topics such as mental illness. Dear Evan Hansen is a musical that focuses on suicide and the aftermath of it such as anxiety, depression and grief. With Evan’s childhood friend dying from suicide, he attempts to prove to people that they were friends and the audience can watch as the family grieves for the loss of their son. This show shows how mental health is so essential as in the song ‘You will be found’ Evan’s speech is broadcasted all over the country and people are saying how much it has helped ‘I knew someone who really needed to hear this today, so thank you, Evan Hanson, for doing what you’re doing’ Showing that everyone needs to hear these words of we are loved and that there is someone to talk to if you need it.
Musicals show importance in teaching people about the current events, and also lessons in accepting people and that mental health are essential to look after themselves. Musicals are all over the news at the moment; with the theatre’s unsure about whether they are allowed to open due to the Corona Virus pandemic.