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There’s a stereotype that musicals are all jazz hands and positivity, but sometimes they can hit you right where it hurts.
We reckon it’s absolutely healthy to belt out your feelings, so here are six cathartic musical moments and a whole playlist of the best ballads in the West End guaranteed to help you have a good cry.
Found in the second act of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s smash hit musical based on the life of American Founding Father Alexander Hamilton, this song has been making audiences tear up since its stage debut. It sees Hamilton and his wife Eliza “working through the unimaginable” after their first-born child is killed in a duel. No lyrics about grief have ever captured this “suffering too terrible to name” with such profound simplicity. You won’t just cry… prepare to weep. [Find tickets]
Mufasa sings They Live In You to young Simba early in the musical while explaining how the great kings of the past are always watching over this world. But it’s in the show’s second act when Rafiki chants “he lives in you, he lives in me” that you’ll become a hotbed of emotions. Reminding Simba that the soul of his father will remain a part of him forever, this song not only soothes his loneliness but gives him the strength to go home and take his rightful place as king of the Pride Lands. [Find tickets]
This solo number is one of many eye-misting ballads in the uplifting musical about a small Canadian town that welcomed thousands of people from around the world when the airspace over America was shut down after 9/11. Hannah is one of the stranded passengers and she’s desperate to learn the fate of her New York City firefighter son. The song captures her plaintive phone messages to people back home as she pleas, “Any news? I am his mother. I’m far away, stuck here, I’m trying to find out if –”. [Find tickets]
Your soul will fill with emotion when you hear this gospel-like song. After Tracy Turnblad stages a rally to protest segregation at a Baltimore radio station, “Motormouth” Maybelle, a record shop owner and the hostess of “Negro Day” on The Corny Collins Show, recalls the long fight for equality with the title’s stirring words. Queen Latifah played Maybelle in the 2007 film version of Hairspray and you can hear her powerful rendition of it below. [Find tickets]
Make sure you have plenty of tissues nearby for this one. Considered an anthem of hope the world over, Jean Valjean sings it at the barricade, pleading to God to save the life of Marius and bring him back to Cosette. Most recently Alfie Boe teamed up with former Les Mis cast members to perform a beautiful arrangement of it while in their own homes in appreciation of the NHS. [Find tickets]
Written by Benj Pasek and Justin Paul, this beautiful song is pivotal to the musical. Evan, the main character, is a lonely teen who suffers from social anxiety. You Will Be Found sets in motion a moment that goes viral and helps him find connection. A total tear-jerker, it’s a reminder that “even when the dark comes crashing through” there’s comfort to be found. And anytime you’re feeling lost, just check out the recent #HomeFest performance from the original Evan Hansen, Ben Platt, and the current Broadway and touring companies on James Corden’s Late Late Show. [Find tickets]
Listen to our Spotify playlist for more songs that will help you have a good cry:
Find more information about your favourite West End productions by heading to our Theatre Guide.