Tessa Hensler, “Love Always”

This project features topics of sexual assault, drug abuse, and suicidal ideation.

In my almost 20 year of life, I’ve found that telling people how much I love musical theatre doesn’t always get a positive reaction. Musicals just aren’t for everyone. However, in my more recent studies, I’ve found how much musical theatre has shaped not only my identity, but the American Identity as well. So maybe musicals really are for everyone, even if most don’t realize that. 

My work takes a semi-autobiographical look into political and social issues under the metaphorical mask of a child-like pop-up board game with diary entries, some non-traditional playing cards, a spotify playlist, a cheesy (or ominous?) home movie, and the like. The “game” follows the journal entries of a main character, Lemon, as they embark on a journey down the “yellow-brick road” in hopes of finding their “somewhere over the rainbow”. On their journey, Lemon faces head-on some of the problems of both the world we live in, and the (for the most-part fictional) worlds of some beloved hit Broadway musicals such as Avenue Q, Next to Normal, and Wicked to name a few, and of course (and hopefully by now obvious), The Wizard of Oz.  

The “home movie”, if you will, is more of a trailer of sorts, something to represent the theme of this project. This movie features a pair of hands playing a joyful tune on the piano (an original, untitled piece by Rocky Nardone), but the tune abruptly changes as the voices of the main character questions both verbally and non, what they’re feeling as they travel through these worlds. The spotify playlist features songs from the Broadway musicals featured so that the reader can get somewhat of a general idea if they have never seen the show before. I found the use of journal entries to add to the adolescent-like theme in a way. Somewhat like an angsty teen who keeps journals because “nobody understands them.”

Similar to Musical Theatre, I’ve found that many people don’t always like being face-to-face with the troubles of our current world. Sometimes it’s easier to suppress the bad times, but it’s not always healthy. If only we all could see the world the way children do. If only real life had happy endings like those big Hollywood movies.  Mixing these worldly issues with beloved show tunes from Broadway, and a splash of child-like whimsy makes it easier for people to see how the world around us is not always what it appears.

To view the digital content of “Love Always,” click on this hyperlink.