"This is Me" and Other Musicals About Acceptance

Liz Chirico

The song everyone’s talking about from the hottest musical in New York… well movie musical. The Greatest Showman. This piece isn’t about how fabulous the movie is (although it is) or about how terrific the score is (been on constant repeat in my car since I saw the movie). Rather, I used the song as a shameless ploy to grab your attention and have you continue to read my article. Worked, didn’t it?

Anyway, “This Is Me” has become an anthem for anyone and everyone who’s ever felt different, bullied, or ashamed of themselves. While The Greatest Showman does a phenomenal job of showing that everyone is good just as they are, there were and are plenty of other shows with that same theme. Here are a few that drive the point that just you is more than enough.

HONK!- This is one show I rarely see performed and it’s a damn shame. This is the ultimate anti-bullying show, basically a musical version of the Ugly Duckling. Though Ugly’s (the main character) Mom loves and accepts him immediately, the rest of the animals in the barnyard, Ugly’s siblings and even his father are less kind. Two standout musical numbers are “It Takes All Sorts” and “Warts and All”. Those numbers teach Ugly and us that while no two people are alike that’s fine. We all have our individual strengths and talents that we bring to the world.

Wicked- This one’s a no-brainer. The green-skinned girl longs to be accepted and loved by her father, sister and really everyone. “The Wizard and I” is the first time Elphaba has ever been seen and valued for her talents and who she is. Grant it, Madame Morrible doesn’t exactly want to use Elphaba’s talents for good but I digress. The point is Elphaba for the first time is proud of who she is, believes in herself and feels she’s going places.

The Sound of Music- I know, it seems like an odd choice but hear me out. Marie is an awful nun. She’s terrible; she spends every day on the mountain, singing, not wearing her veil/habit, late for everything. She’s desperately trying to fit into a world she doesn’t belong. It’s the Reverend Mother who sees that Maria is stifling her true self in a vain attempt to find belonging. Once Maria is allowed out of the abbey walls, she flourishes. “I Have Confidence” begins tentatively, slowly, as Maria is unsure of who she is if she isn’t within her familiar world. By the end of the song, she’s singing forte her arms wide and outstretched, embracing the life in which she was born to have. 

Seussical- Where do I begin? An overall wonderful show with an important message of standing up for your beliefs, accepting yourself and others for who they genuinely are. Gertrude, Horton, JoJo- each of them are told or feel that who they are isn’t good enough. Each goes through various attempts to be like everyone else, to blend in, and to be the “good” one. Ultimately the main characters realize their original selves are more than enough and deserving of love because “a person’s a person no matter how small.”

Kinky Boots- Charlie doesn’t want to simply follow in his father’s footsteps. All his life he’s been told what to do and who to be. Lola has also been told what to do and who to be although for very different reasons. Throughout the story, they, and the factory workers learn that accepting who you are is the key to accepting and befriending others. Much like HONK, the world needs each of us and the unique gifts we bring to the table. “Raise You Up/Just Be” is the upbeat anthem the world needs to show us how to accept and love one another for who each of us is.

What’s your favorite show/song of acceptance and belonging?