Musicals With Not So Happy Endings
I have often heard people muster with starry eyes the magical words “I wish my life was more like a musical.” As a person who has a song for everything (EVERYTHING!) and being a lover of generally just prancing about, I can certainly understand this sentiment. However on closer examination, is the world of musical theatre a happy place? I mean look at BLOOD Brothers guys! Not everything can be rectified with a sassy 11o’clock number and some Jazz Hands…It all goes horribly wrong in Miss Saigon, West Side Story, Rent… Ahhh! Chaos, doom gloom! But that is not every show right? There are some heart meltingly uplifting musicals out there that re-affirm our faith in life, the planet and the Universe? I mean Disney princesses find their one true loves and the Von Trapp’s escape certain death by the Nazi’s?! Right?
Where do we go from here?
How it Ended: Hurrah! Impoverished Charlie Bucket and his goodly granddad have proved that good sprit conquers all and have inherited the all important Chocolate Factory! Yippee, the turbulent years are over for latest entrepreneur on the block, who has seemed to secure himself a golden ticket to a new life! Or has he? Possible issues: Sooo Charlie is a 7(ish) year old in charge of a chocolate factory? I mean I know he is a pretty responsible youth, but no kid can fail to succumb to the temptations of a sugar rush. He is literally a kid in a candy shop, except (despite a distinct lack of formal training and business skills) he runs the show now. He has Oompalumpa’s to pay these days, and we all know what those orange ragamuffins are like when they get angry. Let’s hope dear Charlie has a strong HR department…or panic room in case they take over…. I know what you are thinking, he still has his super duper granddad right? Not to be Macabre, but how long is his formally bedridden granddad going to be around before he “kicks the bucket” (#punpunpun) How it Probably Really Ended: After a lifetime of moderate starvation, Charlie goes on a chocolate eating rampage and gains a fair few pounds. Meanwhile, being a pre-teen, he has no idea how to run a successful business. Owning a sweet factory can’t be easy, I mean it turned Willy Wonka cuckoo! The Oompalumpa’s go on strike and turn against him and he attempts to escape death by giant squirrels! Worthy of a sequel: A FREAKquel – YEAH!
How it Ended: Despite supposedly loving one another, Sophie and Sky decide to call off their wedding, gifting the lavish occasion instead to Sophie’s mother, Donna and her potential father, Sam. The pair decide to go off travelling together and share a kiss in front of a comically massive moon. Naww. Possible issues: In the words of Blu Cantrell “if love hurts, it won’t work.” Sophie and Sky have already called off their wedding, which doesn’t necessarily spell happy ending, no matter what spin they had on it. Not to be gossy, but if Sophie’s mum is anything to go by, Sophie may want to explore more than just life beyond their Greek Island (wink wink nudge nudge!) Also I have a sneaky suspicion that Sky may have enjoyed dancing scantily clad with the “ladz” a little too much in musical number “Lay All Your Love On Me.” How it Probably Really Ended: Sophie and Sky just about make it off the island before getting into a lovers tiff. They travel to the oh so fashionable Thailand but Sophie ditches Sky at a Full Moon Party, instead running off with a bar worker from Mushroom Mountain. Sky isn’t to cut up about it and heads off to fulfill a dancing career in Bangkok….ahem. Worthy of a Sequel: Snooze…No, unless you love a messy break up.
How it Ended: Elphaba turns her lover Fiyero into a scarecrow so he cannot feel pain or suffer when tortured. Elphaba and Glinda realise the true meaning of friendship and Fiyero eventually escapes his captors to save Elphaba from an angry mob (Dorothy!) and the pair escape to live their lives together as they had always wished. Potential issues: So… sorry… but to state the obvious, Fiyero is now made OF STRAW! This pretty much rules out candle lit dinners, walks in the rain and all kinds of normal relationship activity. They can never have children of their own because..hello…straw! Let’s hope Elphaba doesn’t have hayfever…! Also, what kind of job prospects are there beyond scaring crows for Fiyero? I wonder how profitable that line of work is?! Marital issues aside, life is never ideal when a man comes between friends. Galinda and Elphaba would have been better off without Fiyero. Also it is suggested at the end of Act 2 that The Wizard is actually Elphaba’s farther…I mean CAN OPEN… WORMS EVERYWHERE! How It Probably Really Ended: Fiyero gets frustrated that all he is really good for is scaring crows. He may or may not meet a naked flame…sorry guys. Elphaba and Galinda reunite as BBFs (yey!) but Elphie quickly discovers the true identity of her father. From there on out it all gets pretty Star Wars Worthy of a Sequel: I’m sorry, but the above sounds great. Holzman, Schwartz…I’m here if you need help penning this theatrical gold.
How it Ended: The Jellicle choice was made and Grizabella The Glamour Cat journeys to the Heaviside Layer to much fan fair and amazement. It is assumed she will be reborn into a new Jellicle Life. Possible Issues: I mean it is all well and good for Grizabella but all the other kitties are stuck down on Earth in an actual junk yard. Despite the potential recent addition of a few tossed mobile phones to the tip, cats don’t have opposable thumbs so they won’t even benefit from the potential entertainment of snake on an abandoned Nokia 3310. Akward. Also, do we trust Old Deuteronomy? He is kind of sketchy right? How do we know that the Heaviside layer isn’t a strange torturous realm of doom? Lastly…DOGS. Pollicle Dogs! They legitimately exist in the world that TS Eliot created and Andrew Lloyd Webber translated to the stage. They are out there…waiting. It could get ugly if the Jellicle Cats and Pollicle Dogs meet. What probably actually happened: The cats are very resentful they did not get to go to the Heaviside layer and overthrow Old Deuteronomy in a kind of kitty coup. Meanwhile, news of the cats turning on one another reaches the Pollicle Dogs who decide now would be the best time to try and take over their land. The dogs descend on the feuding cats and all hell breaks loose. Grizabella returns having escaped from the Heaviside Layer, which turns out to be a weird pugatory. Her and Magical Mr Mistoffelees banish the warring cats and dogs (except Gus the Theatre cat because he’s a honey) to the Heaviside Layer, never to be seen again. Worthy of a Sequel: YES! Come on Andrew! Let’s do this!
The Sound of Music
How it Ended: The newlyweds Maria and Captain Von Trapp escape from Austria with their children. They climb the Alps (!) over to Switzerland whilst singing uplifting ditty “Climb Every Mountain” that seems to suggest all will be well. Possible Issues: Exit pursued by Nazi’s! Watch out Trapp’s, the SS are hot on your tail and pretty much definitely want you to die after the stunt you pulled at the Salzburg Festival! Whilst the Third Reich may be the Von Trapp’s biggest worry, there are other issues to take into consideration. I mean, did anyone spot a walking boot on those kids? Now is not a time for frolicking in curtains, these evacuees are in serious need of hiking gear! I’m not being funny but it is around 400km from Salzburg to Austria… How It Probably Really Ended: Rolf (Liesl’s Aryan former sweetie) catches up with the troupe. They are pretty terrified after the goings on at the Nun’s Abbey, however he has had a change of heart and has realised he loves Liesl and is willing to help her family escape. Apart from a few alpine mishaps, It is all going well until they summit the Alps and find many a Nazi waiting for them…never pretty. Worthy of a Sequel: Dramatically yes but morally NO. I’m just not ready to deal with the reality of the situation for the poor Von Trapp’s. Yikes!
Best of The Rest
There are a few other musicals that have quite the misleading ending.
- The Little Mermaid – So Ariel married hot prince Eric! Hurrah! Oh but wait, now she has switched a tail for legs and gills for lungs she probably won’t have too much luck visiting her besties under the sea.
- Beauty and the Beast – Yippeee! The beast is no longer a beast but a handsome chappy with luscious long blonde locks. What a babe! Belle and former Beast (widely considered to be called Prince Adam) live happily ever after, along with the former teapots and clocks of the enchanted castle. But oh wait, isn’t this story set around the time of the French Revolution? The French Peasants didn’t take so kindly to royalty or landed gentry. I predict not so plain sailing in these lovebird’s future. #LetThemEatCake
- Grease – Sooo Sandy had to change her looks and personality to get the guy? Good luck with that one honey!
Do you, oh fair readers, have any other examples of not so happy endings? If so I’ll add them to the list! Let me know in a comment below or by twitter with the hashtag #NotSoHappyEndings