Love on a Broadway stage is rather predictable. Boy meets girl, they sing a song, they fall in love, they live happily ever after — or do they? Drama’s the name of the game behind the velvet curtain, and your favorite musicals wouldn’t be nearly as juicy without a good old-fashioned love triangle to pull at your heartstrings and loyalties and drive you crazy.
Though few Broadway love triangles have inspired the theatre nerd equivalent of “Team Edward” and “Team Jacob” T-shirts — though let’s be honest, we’d all buy them if they did — there are a few that stand out among the rest as particularly notable.
1. Raoul, Christine and The Phantom
In “The Phantom of the Opera,” Christine Daae has a voice that stuns, awes and seemingly makes all the men around her fall madly and deeply in love with her. The Phantom adores her from afar as he teaches her how to sing, while her childhood sweetheart Raoul swoops in to sweep her off her feet after reappearing in her life. The two jockey for her affections throughout the musical (some in more violent ways than others), and the triangle reaches a head when The Phantom makes her choose between killing Raoul and spending the rest of her life with him. Talk about a high-stakes decision!
Best love song: “All I Ask of You” — and, of course, The Phantom’s reprise!
2. Anatoly, Florence and Freddie (and Svetlana)
In “Chess,” leading lady Florence is caught between two bitter rival chess players from opposite sides of the world. She begins the show on the arm of Freddie, a hot-mouthed American, but slowly falls for the Russian Anatoly as she works to find some peace between the two in the midst of a heated chess competition. Complicating things further is Anatoly’s wife, Svetlana, making this a love rhombus.
Best love song: “I Know Him So Well”
3. Phoebe, Monty and Sibella
In “A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder” rising heir Monty Navarro is torn between the newly married vixen Sibella and his pious distant cousin Phoebe. The two couldn’t be more different if they tried, and they unknowingly vie for Monty’s affections as he systematically murders his other family members to inherit his family’s fortune. Unlike others on this list, Monty inexplicably lucks out in the end as each woman decides to be with him while being totally OK with the other one. Huh. Interesting twist.
Best love song: “I’ve Decided to Marry You”
4. Kim, Chris and Ellen
Get the tissues out. In “Miss Saigon,” soldier Chris must confront his past when he finds himself at a crossroads between his wife, Ellen, and Kim, the woman he fell in love with during his last few days stationed in Vietnam. This is one of the more tragic triangles, with Kim blinded by her faith that Chris will come looking for her and Chris’ belief that she has died. And then there’s Ellen, who you want to hate but really can’t as she, too, even wonders whether she should step aside to let Kim and Chris be together.
Best love song: “I Still Believe”
5. Elphaba, Fiyero and Glinda
In “Wicked,” everything seems to be going great for Shiz’s new “It” couple Glinda and Fiyero until, well, it isn’t. After setting free an imprisoned lion cub together, Elphaba and Fiyero share a moment where she sees him for who he is and they clasp hands. From then on, Fiyero struggles with his growing feelings for the soon-to-be Wicked Witch of the West, breaking the heart of his bride-to-be when he ultimately chooses her.
Best love song: “I’m Not That Girl”
6. Eponine, Marius and Cosette
You all knew this was coming. This list would be wholly incomplete without an appearance from the trio that puts the “miserable” in “Les Miserables.” Eponine is madly in love with her best friend, student Marius, but he falls in love nearly immediately with Cosette when she arrives in town. Eponine even goes along with helping Marius win Cosette’s heart by bringing him by her house and delivering a letter when he’s at the barricade. Eponine loves Marius until the very end, and in some versions of the show, it appears he may love her a little too.
Best love song: “On My Own” (duh)
7. Angelica, Hamilton and Eliza
Angelicaaaa…Elizaaaaa…and Hamilton? This “Hamilton” love triangle might not be the most historically accurate part of the show, but from the moment the words “Me, I loved him” are sung, your heart is torn in two. Alexander never really has a choice between these two Schuyler sisters (Angelica made sure of that), but that didn’t stop her from loving him from afar as he married Eliza. Though Alexander is devoted to Eliza — well, as devoted as you can be when you’re repeatedly cheating on her with your mistress — but the flirtationship between the two is tough to ignore. We’ll forever be left wondering whether the comma after “Dearest” actually meant something.
Best love song: “Satisfied”
8. Aida, Radames and Amneris
In another horribly depressing love story, Radames is stuck in the middle of his betrothed, Princess Amneris, and Nubian slave (and secret princess) Aida. First off, if you’re loved by not one, but TWO princesses, you should call yourself pretty lucky. But I digress. To complicate things further, Aida becomes the handmaiden of Amneris, and the two develop a deep friendship. The love these three have for each other culminates as the two lovers are sentenced to death and Amneris allows them to die together in a final act of mercy.
Best love song: “A Step Too Far”
9. Effie, Curtis and Deena
In the easiest case of “He is SO not worth it,” aspiring singers Effie and Deena fall for the same man, their sleazy manager Curtis, in “Dreamgirls.” Effie falls hard for Curtis, but he sets his sights on Deena, delivering a double whammy when he makes her the star act of the Dreamettes and dumps a pregnant Effie. Luckily, the two wisen up in the end and kick Curtis to the curb as they reunite for one final concert. Bye, Felicia.
Best love song: “And I Am Telling You I’m Not Going”
10. Jerry, Lise and Henri
Miscommunications land two friends in the middle of this complicated love triangle, as painter Jerry falls in love with a mysterious woman who turns out to be be in a relationship with his friend Henri. Lise struggles with deciding between the two men, torn between her newfound love for Jerry and feeling beholden to Henri for the role he played in saving her during the occupation of France.
Best love song: “An American in Paris”
11. Josh, Elizabeth and Lucas (and Stephen)
It might not technically count if the love stories are playing out over two separate storylines, but If/Then’s Elizabeth is caught between two men who love her as her life diverges as result of a singular decision. Should she end up with her best friend, or the soldier she met on the street? Or, to even further complicate things, there’s the matter of the crush she has on her boss, Stephen. What role does fate play in all of this?
Best love song: “You Don’t Need to Love Me”
12. Freddy, Eliza and Henry
It’s a scenario seen in every teen movie ever made: As part of a bet, distinguished phonetician Henry Higgins wagers he can teach Cockney flower girl Eliza Doolittle to act like a distinguished woman. Over time, the two form a bond that is threatened when the newly distinguished Eliza
catches the eye of the aristocratic Freddy. It is then that Henry realizes he may have come to love her — but is it too late?
Best love song: “On the Street Where You Live”
13. Jim, Linda, Ted and Lila
In yet another love rectangle, things get complicated among performers right from the get-go in this Irving Berlin musical, “Holiday Inn.” Jim and Lila begin the musical planning to quit their performing trio and run a country hotel, but Lila abandons the plan — and Jim — at the last minute as she reveals she’s fallen in love with their third member, Ted. Things can’t get more complicated, right? Think again. A broken-hearted Jim later falls for Linda at his inn, but when a recently single Ted returns, he starts pursuing her as well. They say there’s plenty of fish in the sea, but it seems these two can’t help themselves when it comes to chasing the same ones.
Best love song: “White Christmas”