Romance is the most common theme in musical. It shows up in many ways and serves many purposes. In some ways, it takes up the entire plot, in some it is a subplot that is a couple, and some it is a subplot that is a love triangle. You might think it is just a love triangle that is complex, but sometimes a couple alone that is complex. What makes you love a couple? One of the best ways to love a couple belongs to their song or songs (I said song or songs because some couples have multiple songs- after all, some plots are a romance). I will try my best to explain why songs can help make you fell in love with a couple.
If you don’t have the song, it is nearly impossible to realize there is a couple. In a romance, the first song does make you pick up on the fact that they are developing feeling feelings for each other (“Something There” for instance). Then after afterwards, there is usually a song, there is usually a song that tells you that they in love (“Beauty and the Beast” for example. The songs are key to helping you realize there is a couple in a realize, or else, you fight not pick up on romance.
A lot of times, if I love a couple’s main song, I end up loving the couple. I love songs such as “Heart Full of Love”, “All I Ask of You”, “Can you Feel the Love Tonight”, “Something to Believe In”, “Beauty and the Beast”, “As Long As Your’e Mine”, “Till There Was Mine”, “I Should Tell You”- etc. These songs were all key to helping me love these couples.
In the love triangles- it is key to fall in love with the couples. Once you realize why the love triangles are set up the way they are, you learn to love them more. Songs such as “Heart Full of Love”, All I Ask of You”, and “As Long As Your’e” do make me love the couple. “As Long as Your’e Mine” is the most interesting song since it is ironic since Elphaba originally had unrequited love for Fiyero.
All of the romantic songs are beautiful songs. I find it interesting how romance comes mostly comes from young couples. So the songs make you realize that two characters have fallen in love- you easily could have missed that if you didn’t have the song.
Love triangles exist in musical theatre. There are three that come straight to mind when I think of them. They are the Phantom of the Opera, Les Mis, and Wicked one. All three them add texture to those musicals. Which one of those is my favorite musical theatre love triangle?
Wicked’s love triangle is my favorite from that group. Wicked’s love triangle is the first love triangle I ever emotionally bonded with. It is actually the one where I discovered the concept of love triangle. It is between Glinda x Fiyero x Elphaba. A lot of my love for the Wicked love triangle does come from it being the first one I bonded with.
Then there’s the complex side to Wicked’s love triangle. In act I, Glinda and Fiyero are a couple with Elphaba dealing with unrequited love. Elphaba responds to her unrequited love by not pursuing Fiyero because it is her best friend who is in a relationship with him. You think the setup is going to stay this way.
Enter act II, Fiyero hears all of these rumors spread about Elphaba, and he knows they are not true. He all of a sudden realizes he is in love with Elphaba. Actually in his days at Shiz, I believe he had a crush on Elphaba without realizing it. It took until hearing those rumors to know his true feelings for Elphaba- so the unrequited love jumps from Elphaba to Glinda. Glinda, like Elphaba, does not try to steal Fiyero away. This love triangle does show the two girls’ loyalty towards each other. They do not let a boy get in the way of their relationship- the love triangle actually strengthens their friendship.
One of the interesting things about Wicked’s love triangle is that it develops in the same way the characters do. It fully matures when the characters do. It is at the end of act I when Elphaba truly matures and at the beginning of act II when Fiyero truly matures. “As Long as Your’e Mine” is a very mature and mystical song- it also is very ironic- you thought Elphaba would ALWAYS have unrequited love- but it does not happen. Elphaba and Fiyero truly shows bravery towards each other and wants to protect each other. What other love triangle has two characters ending up with unrequited love at some point? Saying that Elphaba and Fiyero are a couple is a spoiler in itself.
It is February, and I think it is appropriate to talk about the most common theme in musical theatre. Most likely when you see a musical, you will see romance: either you just see a couple or you come across a love triangle. It is not just love triangles that are complex- even a couple alone is complex. It is their love song that makes you realize they have fallen in love- but that is not always the case.
I feel like there is something quite magical about Disney couples. Songs like “Something to Believe In”, “A Whole New World”, “Beauty and the Beast”, and “Can You Feel the Love Tonight” have something special about them. I love all of the couples associated with them. These couples belong to Katherine and Jack, Jasmine and Aladdin, Belle and Beast, and Nala and Simba. If you think about it, Belle and Beast are home to a love triangle- after all, Gaston wants to marry Belle for the entire musical. Belle and Beast is a couple that falls in love over time- first Belle despises Beast- then they develop feelings for each other during “Something There”- and then you finally have “Beauty and the Beast”. There is a heartbreaking song in the midst of all of this- “If I Can’t Love Her” in this stage show- or its “Evermore” if you watch the 2017 movie.
Love Triangles (Les Mis, Phantom, Wicked)
Les Mis: Cosette x Marius x Eponine
The couple is Cosette and Marius and the unrequited love belongs to Eponine. Cosette and Eponine have literally switched places in life- Cosette had a horrible childhood while Eponine had a better childhood- then Eponine’s life gets even worse and Cosette’s life improves when Valjean rescues her from the Thenardiers, who are Eponine’s parents. When Cosette leaves, Eponine is mistreated by her parents, and is raised to be a thief and criminal. When Marius enters her life, he treats her with kindness- that is why she fell in love with- the sad truth is he is the only person who treats her with kindness- as a matter of fact, he is the only good thing in her life.
Then the love triangle happens- Marius bumps into Cosette, and the two of them automatically fell in love with each other. Eponine notices that they both love each other. She will do anything for Marius- she does end up finding Cosette for him. She risks her life several times for Marius. She ends up protecting Marius from her father when he was about to rob Valjean’s house (Marius was there at the time). This was why she went to the barricade, and why she sacrificed her life for him. I love how in this love triangle, you end up feeling for all three of them at once- first when Marius and Cosette and 2nd at “Heart Full of Love”- it starts out as a duet- then when Eponine joins in- you get so confused- you end up feeling heartbroken for Eponine, but incredible for Marius and Cosette- that is why you are confused. Marius and Cosette are such an adorable couple- those are my favorite survivors or Les Mis- Marius in particular.
Phantom of the Opera: Raoul x Christine x Phantom
Unlike Les Mis, the entire story is a love triangle. Raoul and Christine are the couple while Phantom gets the unrequited love. Raoul and Christine are an adorable couple. Raoul would do anything to prevent Christine from the Phantom. Phantom does not accept, cope, or deal with his unrequited love well. His response is extremely negative- he responds in anger and revenge- he plans to murder Raoul- at the end of the show- he makes Christine choose between choosing him or killing Raoul (not the best response).
Wicked: Elphaba x Fiyero x Glinda
Wicked is the most complex out of all three of these love triangles. In act I, Glinda and Fiyero are a couple while Elphaba is dealing with unrequited love. She does not pursue Fiyero because of her best friend. In act II, the unrequited love jumps to Glinda- now Elphaba and Fiyero are a couple- that becomes the final result. So this love triangle has a plot twist- the other two love triangles has only one character dealing with unrequited love- Wicked on the other hand has two characters- both Elphaba and Glinda do not pursue Fiyero to keep their friendship alive. They do not let a boy get in the way of their friendship. I believe it shows their loyalty towards each other and helps strengthen their friendship. What I love about this love triangle is that it develops in the same way the characters do- it does not truly mature until the characters do. Wicked’s love triangle is my FAVORITE love triangle.
Elphaba wasn’t planning on falling in love with Fiyero. She could not stand Fiyero at first. He was a jerk at first- his overall arc is one of the things I love watching. He went from this jerk to softening up to becoming this mature and courageous young man. Elphaba truly matured during “Defying Gravity”. See what I mean- the love triangle did not truly mature until the characters did.
Why does the plot twist happen- I never knew why the first three times I saw the musical. I decided to get some answers the 4th time. I believe Fiyero had a crush on Elphaba at Shiz in act I, but deep down didn’t realize it. I believe he realized he was in love with Elphaba at the beginning of act II. He decided to have a stronger chemistry with Elphaba and a weaker chemistry with Glinda in the first act foreshadowing the plot twist. This was all based off of Ashley Parker Angel’s portrayal I saw the 4th time. At least- some things are clearer this time around.
Mimi and Roger
Mimi and Roger is one of the couples that is NOT part of a love triangle that is complex. So you see, there couples that are complex that don’t need to be a love triangle. Mimi and Roger are one of those couples. Mimi and Roger are my favorite Rent couple, and I still struggle to understand that. They have have HIV, and have other struggles. They find an attachment in “Light My Candle”- BUT Roger is unwilling to be in a relationship because of some complications that happened in his most recent relationship. It is during “I Should Tell You” is finally when Roger commits to a relationship. They are a couple who fights at times, but still love each other. Mimi and Roger are the main couple in Rent. I find them to be a realistic couple.
Maureen and Joanne
This couple is the most problematic relationship in Rent. They fight the most. Joanne always gets so annoyed with Maureen. They are a Lesbian couple- that is something that is unique about this couple. Maureen is very crazy- it is very easy to notice it about her.
Collins and Angel
Just like Mimi and Roger, they have HIV. They are a gay couple as well. They make the most out of their relationship, which is especially clear during “I’ll Cover You”. They never have problems- unlike the other two couples. Knowing about their situation (with the HIV)- they live everyday as if its their last.
Harold Hill and Marian
What I love about this couple being in Music Man is that it gives this musical an emotional feel. After all, it is a very light-hearted musical. So the main emotional feel belongs to the romance. Marian helps protect Harold Hill from being caught when she finds out he is a conman. I don’t think she was planning on falling with him.
If I go on talking about Romance in musicals- it would go on forever. Most of the characters who fell in love are young- as in their 20s and teens. Romance is a combo of innocence, magic, vulnerability, and fragility. The emotions vary as well- love, joy, heartbreak, sad, anger, and revenge- wonder why the negative emotions take up most of them in terms of the ones I can name. Romance does not have to take up JUST the couples- it also has to do with tragic love stories, unrequited love, and breakups.
If a musical theatre song is both a love and sad song, it will ALWAYS be heartbreaking. That is always the truth- that’s for sure. These songs can be ironic or non-ironic. Those songs fall under unrequited love songs, breakup songs, or if the plot is a tragic love story. What are examples of these songs? Below I will list some of those songs.
I’m Not That Girl/ I’m Not That Girl (Reprise)
On My Own
As Long As He Needs Me
This Nearly Was Mine
If I Can’t Love Her/ If I Can’t Love Her (Reprise)
All I Ask Of You (Reprise)
I’m Not That Girl was the FIRST heartbreaking love song I was emotionally connected to, but was sad in the beginning. I never called I’m Not That Girl a sad love song- I never combined emotions together- I called it sad. On My Own, just like I’m Not That Girl, began as a sad song, but after a year I realized it was heartbreaking- On My Own was key to realizing I’m Not That Girl was heartbreaking. As a matter of fact, On My Own made me realize all sad love songs were heartbreaking. The heartbreaking love songs have a combination of emotions- they can be home to sad, anger, and loneliness: it depends on the song and the actor and actress who is playing the character. Some of those heartbreaking love songs are much more heartbreaking than others: for instance, On My Own is more heartbreaking than I’m Not That Girl.
It sounds crazy how some of them are ironic- that means the love situation improves in the end or you don’t expect the character to sing it. I’m Not That Girl is the best example- after all the unrequited love shifts from Elphaba to Glinda, which is why the song is sung twice. In addition, the spell gets broken in Beauty and the Beast, which makes If I Can’t Love Her/ If I Can’t Love Her (Reprise), and Evermore ironic. The same situation happens with This Nearly Was Mine because Nellie goes back to Emelie in the end.
Non ironic- that means the situation NEVER improves in the end. That would mean that character might have unrequited love the entire time. In Les Mis, Eponine has unrequited love for Marius till the end of her journey in Les Mis- she does have a tragic ending, but at the same time, her fate is touching and moving and is home to joy. Eponine’s fate is death, but she gets to die in the arms of Marius after getting shot- that is where the joy comes from. So On My Own is not ironic at all. So the heartbreaking love songs are both ironic and non-ironic.
The heartbreaking love songs are some of the most beautiful songs in musical theatre. They are fragile, vulnerable, and some of them are home to innocence. It just depends on the character and how much they love the person they are in love with at that point in the story.
I have talked about this topic more times than I should on my blog: love triangle. There is one in particular I love more than the others. It has evolved a lot over the years. My favorite love triangle of musical theatre is found in Wicked. It is found between Elphaba-Fiyero-Glinda. Why is that.
1) It is the first one I emotionally bonded with. This sounds like a crazy reason. It is so true. I first discovered the concept of love triangles in Wicked. I don’t remember if I first was aware of the love triangle during the 1st time I saw Wicked or the 2nd time I saw Wicked. I do know it was connected to one of the two. I don’t know if “I’m Not That Girl” started as emotionless or if it began as just a sad song- did I realize it was a sad song my 1st time or the 2nd- once again know it was connected to those two times.
2) Complexity- It is more complex than the Les Mis and Phantom of the Opera love triangle. In Les Mis and Phantom of the Opera- Marius and Cosette and Raoul and Christine are a couple while Phantom and Eponine are struggling with the heartbreak and pain of unrequited love- it stays that way.
What makes Wicked’s love triangle more complex? It begins like this: Fiyero and Glinda are a couple while Elphaba is dealing with the pain and heartbreak of unrequited love- you think that setup is endgame- you think that Elphaba will have unrequited love for the entire musical. Fast forward to the top of act II- Fiyero realizes something- he is in love with Elphaba- he decides to break up with Glinda leaving her dealing with the pain and heartbreak of unrequited love. So now, Elphaba and Fiyero are a couple and Glinda is dealing with the pain of unrequited love. So you have two girls getting hurt in one love triangle- it is not straight forward due to that. How do the two girls respond to the unrequited love? They decide not to steal Fiyero away- that to me shows their loyalty towards each other- they want to keep friendship alive. Why does this plot twist happen? Based upon the last time I saw Fiyero, I believe Fiyero had a crush on Elphaba without knowing, and did not realize it until act II- my actor, Ashley Parker Angel went ahead and in act I decided to have stronger chemistry with Elphaba and weaker chemistry with Glinda in act I foreshadowing the plot twist. Wicked’s love triangle is much more complex than the Phantom of the Opera and Les Mis group- all because of Fiyero’s role- he was the one who was responsible for the plot twist. Before my 4th time- I always left the theatre with “why”- I never grasped why the plot twist happened.
3) Elphaba- The fact that Elphaba is part of this love triangle is a HUGE reason why Wicked is home to my favorite love triangle. Elphaba is my all-time favorite musical theatre character. I see a lot of myself in her, and there are parts of her I don’t see myself in. So there is a bonus. That might be takes almost a bit far, but that is true.
4) Elphaba X Fiyero x Glinda- This is connected to #3. I made it known that in Wicked I am emotionally connected to only three characters. They happen to be Elphaba, Glinda, and Fiyero: I only am fully focused on the friendship and the love triangle each time I see Wicked. Characters play a huge part in my love of a romantic sub-plot. The entire storyline is on Elphaba and Glinda- their friendship. All three characters are complex- yes, you might think only Elphaba and Glinda are complex. But there is more to Fiyero than you think. The complexity of this love triangle is not just because the unrequited love shifts- it is also because all three characters are complex. In high school, I remember knowing that the love triangle was fascinating and adding an incredible texture to Wicked, but I did not understand why.
The 4th time I saw Wicked- the love triangle went through some drastic changes- after my 3rd time- before my 4th time- I came to a realization- “I’m Not That Girl” is a heartbreaking song- figured that out due to “On My Own” and memorizing the lyrics. Due to paying even closer attention to Fiyero, I was able to have a clearer idea why the plot twist happened. Due to knowing “I’m Not That Girl” was heartbreaking coming in, I had to look at that song fresh as if I never heard that song before- I knew I wanted to think more about what I was feeling- I had to pay even closer attention to the Lion Cub Scene- 1) to look for clues pointing to the plot twist and 2) to understand how heartbreaking “I’m Not That Girl” is.
A couple days ago, I wrote a list of those heartbreaking love musical theatre songs that are ironic. But what about those heartbreaking songs that are not ironic at all. Those are the types of songs that are sung by characters whose stories revolve around unrequited love, the plot is a tragic love story, or something like that. Here is my list of those sort of songs.
1. On My Own- Eponine’s story revolves around unrequited love. I owe this song a lot. After all, it helped me realize that “I’m Not That Girl” is heartbreaking. It took me an entire year to know this song was heartbreaking. Eponine’s unrequited love story is one of the most intriguing ones in musical theatre.
2. All I ask Of You (Reprise)- Just like Eponine, Phantom’s story revolves around unrequited, but he does not take it very well.
3. As Long As He Needs Me
4. Somewhere- in West Side Story, the songs get more and more heartbreaking as the musical continues. This one is right near the end.
What on earth do I mean by an ironic heartbreaking love musical theatre song? These are love songs where you don’t except to happen or where things improve in the end. There are going in be spoilers due to explaining why they are ironic in the first place.
1. This Nearly Was Mine- Emelie sings this breakup song after Nellie leaves him. The irony comes from the fact that Nellie comes back to Emelie in the end.
2. I’m Not That Girl/I’m Not That Girl (Reprise)- When Elphaba sings “I’m Not That Girl”, the unrequited love song, little does she know that Fiyero will eventually realize that he loves her, and that they will get together. That is why you don’t except Glinda to sing “I’m Not That Girl (reprise)”, and that happens after Fiyero breaks up with her.
3. If I Can’t Love Her/ If I Can’t Love Her (Reprise)- ironic in the fact that the spell will eventually be broken. Beast feels like Belle will never love him. The reprise is actually more heartbreaking than the first one because he actually has fallen in love with Belle at that point. He has just released Belle as his prisoner, and he believes that Belle doesn’t love him, but in reality she does.
There are other heartbreaking love musical theatre songs, but they are not ironic.