Happy Valentine’s Day! The inspiration for this editorial was the theme of love and musical theatre romantic couples. Musicals that feature everything from classic couples to the more modern duos are on my favorites list.
1- Maria and Tony from West Side Story
“Tonight, tonight, it all began tonight. I saw you and the world went away.”
Maria and Tony are the Romeo and Juliet of musical theatre. The two are star-crossed lovers and what keeps them apart only brings them closer as a couple, as they do not heed all lifestyle hurdles in their neighborhood. Tony is a former Jet and his best friend Riff is the gang leader; whether he likes it or not, Tony will always have a connection to the Jets. Maria is the younger sister of Bernardo, the leader of the Sharks, a rival gang to the Jets that is fighting for control of their neighborhood. Even with all the odds stacked against them and against the warnings of their relationship from people closest to them, the two persevere as a couple. Maria and Tony suffer a similar fate to Romeo and Juliet at the end of the show.
The classic trope of star–crossed lovers is used frequently in theatre, but with this couple, the story goes beyond the cliche when you add the family and friends’ different heritages into the mix. I fell in love with the characters of Maria and Tony when I was younger and they are part of my musical theatre heritage.
2- Angel Dumott Schunard and Tom Collins from Rent
“Live in my house, I’ll be your shelter. Just pay me back with one thousand kisses. Be my lover and I’ll cover you.”
The plot for this couple starts with Angel helping Collins after he is mugged on his way to Mark and Roger’s apartment. Angel and Collins fall in love at first sight and they subsequently learn they are HIV positive. As the musical progresses, so does the relationship of Angel and Collins; the audience sees them grow closer and their relationship deepen. Unfortunately, Angel dies in Collins’s arms at the hospital because of complications from his HIV.
The spectacular music of Rent grabbed me before I was even old enough to understand the issues of the day. Of course, my perception of the depth of their relationship grew as my social knowledge expanded. Angel’s funeral is one of my favorite scenes because it shows how their connection strengthened with the plight of their physical condition, and how Collins stood by Angel until the end.
3- Anastasia and Dmitry from Anastasia
“In a crowd of thousands I’d find you again.”
Anastasia is a Romanov princess who lost her family when the revolution took over Russia. Ten years later, she meets Dmitry, a commoner and conman who tries to claim the reward from her exiled grandmother for finding Anastasia and bringing her to Paris. As the show unfolds, Anastasia and Dmitry realize how much they love each other and that they would change their lives to be together. The two hold hands as they exit in the final moments of the story, demonstrating that Anastasia gives up the life of a princess for her love.
The princess and the commoner trope is another classic in theatre. Anastasia and Dmitry are a fascinating couple because they start off as strangers with separate paths. Both characters need the other person: Anastasia needs the help of Dmitry to find the answers to her ancestry and he needs someone he can train to trick the Dowager Empress Maria Feodorovna. As the two open their minds and their hearts, they see what they needed all along was each other’s love. The arc of this couple’s story showcases that love will conquer adversity as they choose togetherness despite being from different backgrounds and upbringings.
4- Amalia and Georg from She Loves Me
“That Georg is not like this Georg, this is a new Georg that I don’t know.”
Amalia and Georg start the show as pen pals through the Lonely Hearts Club. They meet when Amalia receives a job at Maraczek’s Parfumerie, where Georg is also employed; however, it is not yet revealed that they have corresponded with each other. The two start as people who bicker at work while still speaking words of love in their letters. The story turns when the two set a date to meet. Georg sees that his date is Amalia, not knowing he is the man she has been writing to when he sits at her table and sings a song about a woman being murdered on a blind date. They argue and the restaurant closes without Amalia knowing her “Dear Friend” for whom she was waiting was there the entire time. The relationship changes, again, when Georg brings Amalia vanilla ice cream because she calls out sick, and he apologizes for his behavior the night before. As she is reading a letter from her “Dear Friend,” all she can think about is Georg. As Georg is helping Amalia with her packages at the end of the show, a musical cigarette box slips out—Amalia would like to give it to her “Dear Friend,” but Georg says he would like it, as it would remind him of the day he met her. The couple ends the musical by saying they have feelings of love and Georg reads a letter from Amalia’s “Dear Friend.” Amalia realizes that Georg has been her Dear Friend all along.
Amalia and Georg are classic unlikely lovers as two people who do not get along at first, but finally grow into romantic couple.
5- Elphaba and Fiyero from Wicked
“Just for this moment as long as you’re mine.”
Fiyero and Elphaba start as friends who then move into lovers. Fiyero is a new student at Shiz University and he starts the show dating Glinda. As the plot continues, we see that party-boy Fiyero would much prefer to be with Elphaba, especially during the “Thank Goodness” song in the show. Elphaba is bubbly Glinda’s very studious roommate; the two do not get along initially, but grow to be friends. Elphaba and Fiyero end the musical together—Fiyero has turned into the Scarecrow we know from The Wizard of Oz and Elphaba faked her death so the two of them could be together.
If you read the editorial on my top five favorite musicals, you know Wicked is third on that list and I have mentioned the show on the Board in the past. These two characters are the opposites attract trope done correctly. Not only are they fantastic and compelling characters on their own, but together, they also add more to the story you know and love and pull the plot in a whole new direction. They are characters who don’t have much in common with each other, but they make it work because they love and respect each other and see past their differences, making them better as a couple.
6- Sarah and Sky from Guys and Dolls
“I’ve never been in love before. Now all at once it’s you, it’s you forever more.”
Missionary Sarah and gambler Sky start on the wrong foot when Sky takes Nathan’s bet that he cannot take Sarah to Havana with him for the night. When Sky shows up at the Mission, he impresses Sarah with his knowledge of the Bible. He offers a deal of his own to her: he will bring one dozen sinners if she will go to dinner in Havana with him the next night. Sarah agrees to the date (not knowing about the bet that Sky took) since her branch of the mission will be closed if they do not have sinners at the next meeting. Over dinner and walking around New York City in the early morning hours, the two fall in love. Sky brings gamblers to the mission meeting to help Sarah save that branch of the mission. A few weeks later, Sarah and Sky are married.
While they start on the wrong foot as a pair, they see past their differences and make an adorable couple: the classic unlikely pairing.
7- Abigail and John Adams from 1776
“I am as I ever was and ever was. And ever shall be. Yours, yours, yours, yours, yours.”
In the musical’s context and in real life, the married couple Abigail and John Adams would correspond through letters while John was away. The two of them long for the day when John can come back to her.
I felt this list needed a real-life couple, and before my dad mentioned the show, I did not think much about using Abigail and John Adams. These two have that classic romance that is only strengthened through their time apart. A love that everyone longs for today.
(Photo by Mandy von Stahl from Unsplash)