What’s not to love about Broadway? It offers music, dancing, glamour – all the thrills of showbiz, plus the chance to see some of the biggest stars in the world up close. Not every Broadway show has the same kind of magic, however, and if you’re looking for something that will help you to win the heart of the person accompanying you – or help you mop up your tears and start feeling good again after the end of a relationship – then these are the shows you should try to catch.
West Side Story
It’s never a bad idea to start with the classics and few Broadway shows have featured such a strong romantic theme as Leonard Bernstein and Stephen Sondheim’s 1957 take on Romeo and Juliet , which had an initial run of 732 performances and is now back courtesy of Belgian innovator Ivo van Hove. Following star-crossed lovers whose romance is threatened by the rivalry between street gangs the Jets and the Sharks, it features hit songs like Maria , America, and A Boy Like That , and choreographer Anne Teresa de Keersmaeker has brought her own distinctive vision to the dance numbers in this version. Though its tragic conclusion has broken a few hearts over the years, it continues to be celebrated and deservedly so.
Head over Heels
The latest musical from producer Louise Gund, whose previous work includes canine charmer Sylvia (the tale of a man whose chilly relationship with his wife leads to him developing an intense emotional bond with a dog), Head over Heels is built around the promise that love matters for everyone, no matter who they are. It’s loosely based on 16th Century novel The Countess of Pembroke’s Arcadia and scored with the music of the Go-Go’s, including tunes like Heaven is a Place on Earth and We Got the Beat . Centered on a cluster of royals undertaking a journey together, it features a lesbian couple whose love seems to cross class boundaries, a series of romantic complications ensuing from cross-dressing and an older non-binary person (played by Peppermint from Ru Paul’s Drag Race ) who secretly dreams of being reunited with a lost love. It has been enjoying a fantastic audience response since it opened in July 2018.
Baz Luhrmann’s 2001 movie hit has been adapted for the stage by Global Creatures with Alex Timbers at the helm and features a mixture of classic and contemporary numbers often presented in collage form, with characters using musical reference points to communicate their feelings for and about one another. At the heart of it is a young writer (played by Aaron Tveit) who falls for a courtesan (Karen Olivo) who has been promised to somebody else. Although the notion that the heroine, who sings as well in as out of character, could be struggling with a lung disease has always seemed rather unlikely. The young stars carry their roles with conviction and the spectacular staging, together with the familiarity of the songs, has made it a real hit with audiences.
Another tale of lovers facing separation, Hadestown is a contemporary take on the Ancient Greek myth of Orpheus, who followed his adored Eurydice down into the underworld after her death and so charmed Hades with his music that he was given the chance to try and win her back. Created by Anaïs Mitchell and Rachel Chavkin, it also takes in the story of Persephone, who was kidnapped by Hades and became the goddess of the seasons after condemning herself to spend six months of each year with him by eating six pomegranate seeds. Inventively scored with jazz and folk tunes, it uses the messenger god Hermes (André De Shields) as a guide to both the narrative and its awe-inspiring sets, and it will leave you with plenty to talk about.
The Phantom of the Opera
The longest-running show in Broadway history, Andrew Lloyd Webber’s The Phantom of the Opera takes the Gaston Leroux classic and reimagines it as the story of a doomed outsider whose obsessive love for a beautiful young soprano is thwarted both by his own dark history and by her love for another man. With multiple awards to its name, it’s as potent today as it ever was. Songs like Think of Me , All I Ask of You and Music of the Night will stay with you long after you leave the theater. Hal Prince’s production may not quite achieve the depth of previous versions but there’s plenty on the surface to dazzle you.
Everybody loves a bit of romance and there is no doubt that shows like these will continue to thrive on Broadway for many years to come – but why wait? Make a date to see one soon and no matter how things go with the date who accompanies you, you’ll find yourself dreaming of love.