This blog is a collaboration of MTAS Charlie Reynolds (@charlieareyno) and Keira Dulake (@keiradulake20), something different for you to love this valentines!
In honor of Valentine’s Day, we have decided to talk through some of the greatest musical theatre couples. Musicals can truly capture the hearts of theatre goers, especially when it comes to exploring this little thing we call love. Whether it is passionate, loving, messy, unrequited or incredibly toxic, we wanted to celebrate the beauty of love and relationships from the musicals we have all grown to adore. So whether you are spending Valentine’s Day with your loved one or just happy to be single, we hope you enjoy reading though what we have deemed to be some of the best and most interesting musical theatre couples of all time.
Baker and The Baker’s Wife
A married couple, who have been cursed with barrenness, must go into the woods and seek out various magical items in order to gain what they wish for most, a child. Boy oh boy is their relationship tested. Through the drastic changes of music in Sondheim’s musical, it reveals their personalities, their faults, and the reasons why they end up the way they do in the end. At first, we feel like their love for each other is pure perfection, as they both work together to lift the spell. They are couple goals.
However, Sondheim doesn’t do perfect, I mean have you seen Sweeny Todd? Through the musical he aims to criticize relationships of the real world through this new couple, judges the boundaries of forgiveness, and even suggests that those who do wrong, should be punished. That’s right folks, the Baker’s Wife does the nasty with none other than Prince Charming, and for committing this deed is killed off. She was for sure in the wrong story. I mean, cheating on someone is categorically not ok, but we do understand where she’s coming from when she gives into this temptation, and even though we know it is wrong, we feel for her. She sings of how she has learned to appreciate what she has and how she needs to return to her immediate concerns. As she heads off, she loses her sense of direction, and falls victim to the Giant. It’s pretty brutal, but adds so much raw emotion to the rest of the story. And when she comes back at the end to sing to the Baker, so many feels. She has complete trust that he will be able to act father and mother, reassuring him that he isn’t alone.
Mrs. Lovett and Sweeney Todd
Mrs. Lovett and Sweeney Todd are an oddly paired couple, who almost seem perfect for each other. They both have a sinister shell in which they are both hiding their love, but I think it’s pretty obvious one of them is way more into the relationship than the other! Awkward … From the moment Mrs. Lovett sees Sweeney, she is excited about him, initially because she is welcoming of the custom in her pie shop, but this turns into a different kind obsession when she realises who Sweeney had once been wed to.
Mrs. Lovett is undoubtedly a deceitful character, having lied about the death of Sweeney’s wife to fulfil her own lusts. Their relationship isn’t the most romantic … “honey have you seen the axe, I’m having a little trouble with his leg”. Perhaps the most romantic scene in this musical is Mrs. Lovett’s ‘By The Sea’, in which throughout the whole thing Sweeney looks like a teenage boy who has just had his PS4 taken away because he didn’t finish his homework on time. Mrs. Lovett and Sweeney Todd are basically an example of how not to relationship, had she never heard of playing hard to get?
Celie and Shug Avery
The Color Purple has taken Broadway and the musical theatre community by storm and the story of Celie and Shug is truly touching. Shug is everything to Celie, someone she has admired simply from a picture. It is the first time Celie feels attraction and love towards another person, other than her sister. Upon meeting, they grow close together, Celie opening up to Shug as a true companion, and then reaching to a point where she can finally feel comfortable with someone sexually. Shug is everything for Celie, and as an audience we think that life may change for the better for her. However, our hearts are broken when Shug feels the need to have one more fling with another man. Despite this, Celie loves Shug as much as she did before hand, and their ability to love each other even though Shug become involved with someone else shows the strength in their relationship.
As a relationship, it is truly empowering. It helps Celie, who is deemed to be a weak, submissive girl grow into the free thinking woman she is by the end of the musical, and when you watch the show it feels so important. You feel the tenderness between then, and you understand that feeling of wanting to be cared for. We get why they fall for each other. Their climatic love duet ‘What About Love’ is arguably one of the most sensual love songs in musical theatre, and if you haven’t heard it, I would urge everyone to download it!
Christine and Raoul
Sweetheart lovers from their very childhood, as soon as Raoul sees Christine perform he recognises her as ‘not a bit the gawkish girl’ that she used to be. Their love stems from something pure, a memory of their childhood. However, like pretty much all romances in musical theatre, their relationship doesn’t come easily. Every couple has ghosts from the past they have overcome in order to be together, theirs just happens to be a literal ghost, The Phantom. I think this relationship is probably harder on Raoul than Christine, because from the very outset we can see that she should end up with Raoul and the Phantom is no good for her. Raoul provides the shoulder to cry on for Christine, yet she is ignorant and cannot see his love because of the fear she lives in.
Perhaps it is the lack of her father in her life that makes her reluctant to trust Raoul immediately? Perhaps it’s because she genuinely could’ve pictured herself with the Phantom? There are many Phantom Phans who would’ve liked to have seen Christine end up with the Phantom. Personally, I’m not sure exactly how that would’ve worked. Imagine if they had children, all those candelabras are definitely not child proof, and don’t get me started on the river …
Seaweed and Penny
Penny, Tracy’s loveable best friend, falls head over heels for Seaweed, and vice versa. Despite their relationship not being centre stage, it epitomizes this sense of forward thinking. These characters, along with the likes of Tracy, all believe in integration and an end to racism. In the 2007 film, Motormouth Maybelle says “Well, love is a gift, a lot of people don’t remember that. So, you two better brace yourselves for a whole lotta ugly comin’ at ya from a never ending parade of stupid” – she speaks the truth! But they do give us hope that things can be challenged and changed. It’s a poignant moment in the musical.
In ‘Without Love’, the main love song between Penny and Seaweed, Penny is at the mercy of her racist, religiously-devout mother, punished for spending time with Seaweed. Seaweed confesses his love for Penny, telling her that the colour of their skin will not keep them apart. It celebrates this sense of forbidden love and the fight to be accepted. Seaweed playing the hero is completely adorable, but there are strong connotations to what their love for each other will mean. They are ultimately proclaiming that without love, life wouldn’t be fulfilled, and they would rather face all these struggles in order to be in love. They are true fighters in that respect and despite not being at the forefront of the story, should be a celebrated couple in musical theatre.
Kim and Chris
Miss Saigon is a classic musical, and carries perhaps one of the most heart wrenching love stories in musical theatre. Kim is just 17 when she’s introduced into the story, but amongst the bright dazzling lights of the Engineer’s ‘Dreamworld’, Kim is looking at a bleak future as a woman in her society. At this young age, Kim is forced to sell her body in order to keep herself alive, because it’s the only form of job and protection she can be offered. But Kim in this story is one of the lucky ones. She was ‘fortunate’ enough to be paired with Chris, who is not willing to take advantage of her. Their love stems from the very first time he sets eyes on her. Perhaps he feels obliged to protect her because his friend had paid for her, or perhaps it is just love at first sight.
But their love is just a flicker in a world of gloom. Their relationship never looks promising because of their culture and his position in the American army. They only share one night together before Chris is called away, the American mission is aborted in Saigon. The two are torn apart from each other, despite their efforts to find one another. Later, the story takes yet another heartrending turn when we are introduced to Tam, the son of Chris and Kim. Many years later, eventually Kim and Chris are reunited and Chris meets his son and we momentarily breathe a sigh of relief. Despite this, there is no happy ending for Kim, as she gives her life for her son to have a better life. This just highlights how significant Chris’ love was in her life; it gave her hope that kept her fighting. I think what makes this most distressing for the audience, is that what we see is actually very close to being historically accurate. The Vietnam war was truly horrific and the stories and images haunted millions across the world. Personally I think this is why Kim and Chris stand out so prominently as a real love story in musical theatre. Because it’s a fictional story of truth.
Well, there you have it. Six of the most momentous, powerful love stories in Musical Theatre and to be fair, we didn’t say they’d all be happy ones! I think this just goes to show that love is universal, the one language that all have the ability to share, (even if your husband puts humans into pies and sells them to your neighbours). It can melt your heart, give you butterflies in your belly or if you’re anything like me, just give you an excuse for a great Sondheim sing-along! However you’re spending your Valentines this year, we hope you have enjoyed this little journey on some of our favourite couples from musicals!
Are any of these couples your favourites too?
Who would you say are the ultimate musical couple?
Tweet us and let us know what you thought!
@MTAS_Official / Charlie Reynolds (@charlieareyno) / Keira Dulake (@keiradulake20)