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 thinking- 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.
Back to Les Mis: One of my all-time favorite musical characters is Eponine. She is an interesting character in many ways.
She is the daughter of Monsieur and Madame Thenardier, who appear to love her as a child. However, as a child, you already get an idea of the environment she is going to be growing up in. You see that they are abusive through how they treat Young Cosette and you see them pickpocket their customers so you already get an idea.
Later, Eponine’s life becomes even worse. She is now living in extreme poverty and is more involved in her parent’s schemes. You see just how alone she is in life. She hasn’t been shown much kindness. She is streetwise due to the crimes she has committed with her family. She is so alone in life and you realize that her parents do not love her and just use her for their advantage. Despite all of this, she still has a spark of goodness in her, and you see this through her love for Marius.
Eponine can see the kindness in Marius, and that shows that she still has a spark of goodness in her. All because of the kindness he shows her, she falls in love with him. He is all she has in life, and he bring her joy. The sad truth is he does not realize she loves him, and he later falls in love with Cosette. However, none of that stops her from being in love with him. Her love for him is extremely deep and strong that she will do anything for him. She agrees to find Cosette for him even though it breaks her. She stands up to her father when he is about to rob Valjean’s house and that is done out of love for Marius.
She risks her life several times for Marius even if it breaks her even if it means losing him forever. She makes the choice to go to the barricade. Her love for Marius leads her to sacrifice her life for him when he is about to get shot. Her love for Marius is her greatest strength even if it leads to her death. Her death is the happiest moment of her life because Marius is there for her in that moment holding her and comforting her despite all the pain. Even though she is a Thenardier, she still has that spark of that goodness found within her.
In my opinion, the Phantom is the antagonist of Phantom of the Opera.
He is a very mysterious and dark character. He is a troubled man with a very tragic and horrible past. He has been judged his entire life for his deformed face and was never shown love or compassion growing up. He is ashamed of his face so he hides it by wearing the mask. He falls in love with Christine, but that love falls unrequited, but he doesn’t deal with it well. He responds to his entire situation in revenge and in destructive ways. He wants everything to go his way. He wants Christine to be the star and tricks her by pretending to be her “angel of music”.
Phantom manipulatives Christine on multiple occasions. He threatens the Opera house in many house. He causes the chandelier to fall during a performance. So he does many destructive things during the course of the show. When Christine falls in love with Raoul, he feels betrayed and seeks even more revenge, and he plans to kill Raoul and wants Christine all to himself. In the final lair scene, he makes Christine choose between having him kill Raoul or staying with him. But through an act of compassion shown by Christine, he finally lets them go. Christine kisses him and that allows Phantom to let him go. The Phantom does not know how to handle situations well and cannot accept his deformed face and has led a very tragic life.
One of the reasons why Phantom of the Opera’s love triangle is so amazing is due to the Phantom. He makes it so mysterious and dark. He deals with unrequited love, but does not it take it very well. He is in love with Christine, but Christine is in love with Raoul. He seeks revenge on both of them. So he deals with it in destructive ways. He plans to kill Raoul since Christine love. He just cannot seem to accept it either. He grew up not knowing what love or compassion is. He is taken fun of and humiliated for his deformed face. For whatever reason, he does not take unrequited love. He will do anything to make sure Christine is the lead in the shows at the Opera even if it means threatening the opera, which includes making a backdrop fall. In the final scene, he makes Christine choose between staying with him or if she doesn’t killing Raoul. What a very high stakes decision. She ends up kissing the Phantom. At the very end, he lets both of them go. But still that does not forgive his actions. He makes this love triangle very unique and full of mystery.
Musicals are known for being emotional. One of my favorite emotions is heartbreak, which is an emotion I once was blind to. Les Mis was the musical that brought heartbreak to life. I love the several layers that come to it. That basically means that some heartbreaking songs hurt more than others. On this post, I will describe the layers and the best way I can do that is through two songs.
“I’m Not That Girl” and “On My Own” both share the same root, which is unrequited love. However, both have different levels of insight.
“I’m Not That Girl” is dealing with Elphaba’s unrequited love for Fiyero. This song is only moderately heartbreaking. The song has innocence, vulnerability and fragility. Literally moments before, it is the first time the audience realizes that Elphaba is falling in love with Fiyero. Elphaba’s love for him isn’t that strong at this point, which why the melody is very consistent and the melody also shows Elphaba’s innocence at this point in the story. This song once was a sad song for a couple of years, but it was “On My Own” that helped me realize this song was heartbreaking. About the insight, Elphaba admits in the song that she doesn’t think she is good enough for Fiyero because she is green and she does reflect on her best friend realizing that she is in a relationship with him and that is part of why Elphaba accepts the fact that Fiyero does not love her.
“On My Own” is the more heartbreaking of the two. For starter’s, Eponine’s story revolves around unrequited love. By the time “On My Own” happens, the audience already knows that Eponine is in love with Marius. There are these little sung bits of dialogue that show that she loves him and in “In My Life” and “A Heart Full Of Love”, there are parts of the song that show she loves Marius. By observing her actions, it is already made clear that she loves Marius. Marius cannot seem to pick up on the fact that she loves him.
In this song, you realize just how strong and deep her love for Marius is. This song helps you understand her life outside of Marius. It shows that she is so alone in the world. She is unloved and lonely due to being so alone in life. Her only source of happiness is Marius and he is the only person who shows her kindness. “On My Own” helps highlight this. Throughout lyrics like “Without a home, without a friend, without a face to say hello to” and “a world that’s full of happiness that I have never known” reflects her life. She finally is able to accept the situation she finds herself in and this song shows that she can never stop loving him because he is the light of her life. It actually took about a year to realize “On My Own” was heartbreaking but not sad.
Just by knowing that one of these songs is more heartbreaking than other shows how layered heartbreak can be.