Unrequited love. How many of us have given our full heart to someone, only to suffer the terrible pain of rejection. Some of the most famous songs from some of the biggest musicals, sung by the most loved characters are about this very subject.
The comedy and tragedy masks are our symbols of theatre and although we love a laugh, we adore the tragic characters because we empathise with their plight.
So who suffers this fate? If we look at the biggest West End musicals at the moment, they all have characters who experience unrequited love.
The beautiful 'On My Own' which Eponine sings in Les Miserables makes her one of the most popular characters in musical theatre history. When she sings the lyric 'I'll sleep in your embrace, at last...' in her final tragic aria 'A Little Fall Of Rain' before she dies in Marius' arms, we all feel her pain.
A large part of The Phantom Of The Opera is Phantom's unrequited love for Christine.
The Phantom sings 'I gave her my music, made her song take flight' as he watches Christine fall in love with Roul. I think more than a few of us would have chosen the Phantom.
Amos in Chicago sings a song called 'Mr Cellophane' which details his love for his wife and his sadness at being overlooked, a feeling that we must have all felt.
The painful and poignant 'Room 317' in Miss Saigon when Kim meets Chris' wife for the first time and realises that her love has found someone else. She sings the heartbreaking 'I feel walls in my heart closing in, I can't breath, I can't win.'
Elphaba in Wicked laments 'I'm not that girl' when she has realised how she feels about Fiyero and suspects that he couldn't feel the same way. "Don't dream too far, don't lose sight of who you are" illustrates the painful feeling of not being good enough for the object of her affections, again something most of us have felt at sometime.
But how must it feel to be Chris, Fiyero, Christine Dias, Marius or Roxie Hart?
As the subject of these unwanted affections how do they feel? Maybe a bit scared and elated in equal measures?
Virtually every big musical has unrequited love running as a theme somewhere in the story but why? Isn't it much more interesting than the regular 'boy meets girl'? We all identify with these characters and the difficult emotions they are feeling. When someone who has been searching for love finally finds it, we share their elation and connect with the journey they have made.
In the end, everyone wants to feel loved.
By Nicky Sweetland
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