Stagey Sweethearts: My Favourite Musical Theatre Couples
Happy Love Day, everyone!
When it comes to romance, nothing beats Broadway.
There’s no shortage of romantic ballads, grand gestures, and sweeping orchestrations accompanying a passionate embrace.
I could try to narrow down another list of love songs for you all (check out last year’s post here: https://www.bothsidesofthecurtain.com/post/25-broadway-love-songs-for-valentine-s-day ), but I thought that this year I would create a different list.
These are some of my favourite musical theatre couples:
WARNING: THERE WILL BE SPOILERS!
Georg and Amalia from She Loves Me
This musical takes place in a perfume shop in the 1930s and follows two co-workers, Georg and Amalia. The two argue constantly at work, but secretly they have responded to each other’s anonymous ‘lonely hearts’ advertisement in the newspaper and spend the show trying to find the identity of their mysterious soulmates.
First of all, She Loves Me is the ULTIMATE musical comedy which is full of mistaken identity, banter, and an exciting “rivals to lovers” reveal.
Amalia and Georg have a genuine connection which stems from the long series of anonymous letters they send to each other, where they discuss everything but their day-to-day lives. As coworkers, they instantly compete with the other, before becoming unlikely friends. I like to think that they knew they had those feelings for each other long before the big reveal, but what we know for certain is that they took a chance on a complete stranger and found bliss.
Adam and Barbara Maitland from Beetlejuice
Following a plot line similar to the original film, the musical focuses on the recently deceased Adam and Barbara Maitland, who turn to ‘bio-exorcist’ Beetlejuice when their former home is inhabited by the wealthy Deetz family. The Maitlands begin to haunt the house, hoping to scare away the newcomers. The two ghosts quickly form an unexpected bond with Lydia Deetz, a teenage girl mourning the loss of her mother. Beetlejuice works to aid the three in hopes that he can convince Lydia to summon him by saying his name three times.
Adam and Barbara are beyond ‘til death do us part’.
This ghostly couple begin the show by working together to find their way to the afterlife, but when adventure calls, they take leaps they didn’t make when they were alive. These two always had a lot in common, and their ability to support and encourage each other to grow is something really admirable.
Elphaba and Fiyero from Wicked
Wicked is a musical based off of Gregory Maguire’s novel of the same name and is a prequel to L. Frank Baum’s The Wizard of Oz. Elphaba, a social outcast due to her green skin, is paired to room with blonde society girl, Galinda. The two women go from disgruntled roommates to unlikely best friends. The story follows the two women as they reach adulthood while navigating Oz’s political climate; and eventually they grow into the iconic characters we recognize: The Wicked Witch of the West, and Glinda the Good.
This unlikely couple could not be more different at first glance, but much like Elphaba and her roommate Glinda, their differences help the other to grow. It’s a love based on acceptance, each person overlooking the protective outer shell (Fiyero’s flirty arrogance and Elphaba’s biting sarcasm) to the human underneath.
Collins and Angel from RENT
A rock retelling of La Boheme, RENT documents a year in the life of a group of artists living in New York City at the height of the AIDS crisis.
Collins and Angel are an example of pure love in a scary world. Their relationship is innocent and full of acceptance. This love endures hardships such as discrimination and illness, and eventually loss. Despite everything else, it’s a love that is based on the simple, wonderful things in life… A thousand sweet kisses and all those magical things.
Elle and Emmett from Legally Blonde
When her boyfriend breaks up with her, sorority girl Elle Woods follows him to Harvard Law School. In her attempt to win him back, she makes new friends, finds a passion for law, and learns that “being true to yourself never goes out of style.”
From the very beginning, Elle and Emmett inspire each other to be the best version of each other. Their friendship is based on sharing knowledge which helps the other improve, and from cramming for tests to suit shopping, they always believe in and encourage each other.
Katherine and Jack from Newsies
In 1989, the New York City newspaper tycoons decided to raise the price they charged the newsboys for their papers. The young kids, who had very few rights as workers to begin with, take a stand and go on strike, demanding a place at the table. Covering the strike, is young reporter Katherine Plumber. Her story parallels those of the newsboys; as children and women were both fighting for rights in the workplace around the turn of the century.
Like Emmett and Elle, this couple inspires each other to be the best version of themselves, albeit a little more forcefully. Katherine and Jack challenge each other throughout the show, exchanging witty banter as they try to work together for the same cause. Both of them are headstrong, so it takes a while for them to see that teamwork makes the dream work… And of course, that they’re perfect for each other.
Donny and Julia from Bandstand
Young musician Donny Novitski struggles to find work and peace after returning home from serving in World War ll. When he hears about a nation-wide songwriting competition, he is inspired to assemble a band of veterans. The group of vets from The Donny Nova Band, along with Julia Trojan (whose husband died in action). They band together to win the contest and to get back the life they had before. Along the way, their friendships and their music help them to begin to heal, preparing them to start anew.
This love is patient. Donny and Julia are both recovering from their own personal trauma when they meet, and eventually realize that it’s something they share. Over the course of the show, they support each other, help each other begin to heal, and eventually their strong friendship becomes a romantic relationship.
Dawn and Ogie from Waitress
Waitress follows the story of Jenna Hunterson, a waitress and pie maker, who finds herself unexpectedly pregnant while stuck in an unhappy marriage. When a pie baking contest comes to a nearby town, she realizes that she has a chance to build a better life for herself and her unborn child.
By most standards, Dawn and Ogie are pretty quirky. This is what audiences love about them, and what they love about each other. I love this couple because they embrace each other for exactly who they are, which in turn encourages them to embrace themselves.
Orpheus and Eurydice from Hadestown
Hadestown is a modern, post-apocalyptic retelling of the ancient Greek myth of Orpheus and Eurydice. When his fiancee, Eurydice signs her soul away to Hades and is unable to leave the Underworld, Orpheus, a musician and prophet follows her down. Moved by Orpheus’ song, Hades agrees to release Eurydice, on the condition that Orpheus will lead the way out without looking back. If he turns to check that Eurydice is behind him, she will stay in Hadestown forever.
Now this is a love of mythic proportions (pun intended).
I love that Orpheus and Eurydice have opposite views of the world. He’s a lover, an optimist, an artist, and she is a realist. His positivity opens up her heart to love, and in turn she shares her methods of survival. This is a couple that goes to hell and back for each other, and while in normal circumstances, finding the common ground between hope and doubt is a good thing, unfortunately it seals their fate.
Henry and Natalie from Next to Normal
Next To Normal is a rock musical about a typical American family hiding mental illness from the world. Diana Goodman has been struggling with bipolar depressive illness and delusions for seventeen years following the passing of her infant son. The show recognizes the strain her mental illness puts on her family, and their struggle to find their own “normal.”
Henry is so chill, you would need to check him for a pulse, which is why he’s perfect for the understandably high strung Natalie. I love these two because their relationship falls within the innocence and comfort of first love, while having the patience and understanding of people twice their age.
Christine and Raoul from The Phantom of the Opera
Phantom tells the story of ballet chorus girl Christine Daae, who becomes an overnight opera sensation thanks to the help of a mysterious teacher. This ‘Angel of Music’ is actually the man known as ‘The Opera Ghost’, a damaged genius who lives in the catacombs beneath the opera house. As Christine enjoys great success and finds new love, the Phantom goes into a jealous rage, wreaking havoc on the entire company.
Christine and Raoul, as we find out are childhood sweethearts who are reunited in Paris (dreamy, right?). To me, their relationship is one where they become home to each other, another couple which keeps the innocence of their love despite what’s going on around them. There’s also a selflessness there, and understanding as Christine breaks free from the Phantom’s thrall.
I do have to take this moment to say that Christine and the Phantom are NOT #couplegoals for SO MANY REASONS.
(Also for the sake of this post, Love Never Dies doesn’t exist.)
Robert and Francesca from The Bridges of Madison County
Based on the book of the same name, The Bridges of Madison County tells the story of Robert Kincaid and Francesca Johnson. When her husband and children are away at a county fair, farmwife Francesca meets international photographer, Robert. The two soulmates spend one romantic week together, sharing a lifetime’s worth of love before parting ways.
(Yes, I know they had an affair, which is never a good thing. That doesn’t change the fact that they’re soulmates.)
What I love about Robert and Francesca is that their love is without expectation. It’s love that dreams, and inspires, and accepts. But it never forces an expected future. These two characters share a large amount of respect for each other. When Francesca chooses to stay with her family, Robert isn’t angry, or forceful. He respects her decision, and they part ways without falling out of love for each other.
It also shows that just because you don’t spend forever with someone, you can still be soulmates and carry the love you shared with you.
I hope you all have a safe and happy Valentine’s Day, celebrating all of the different kinds of love in your life!
Let me know if you spotted your favourite musical theatre couple on the list!
If you didn’t, let me know by leaving a comment with whose love you love and why!