Which Broadway Couples Are Most Likely To Make It: A Worst-to-Best Ranking -The Toast

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The Tonys were on two nights ago, and now we all know just who came out on top. Could you believe it when School of Rock won for Best Musical?! (I kid.)* Now that all the awards have been handed out, there is another Broadway ranking that must be attended to: Which couples have what it takes to last beyond the final curtain? 

Some rules for this list: I have excluded any musicals where characters are based on real people — we all know what happened to Alexander Hamilton, and we all know that the Von Trapps made it out of Austria okay. I’ve also cut out all couples in which one or more parties doesn’t survive — which eliminates quite a few famous characters. (Musicals are morbid, no?)

* No offense to Alex Brightman, who will definitely win a Tony at some point in his life. Just not this year. And not with Andrew Lloyd Webber.

Christine Daaé and Raoul Vicomte de Chagny, The Phantom of the Opera:

This may depend on which production you’ve seen, but Christine always seemed way more into the Phantom than Raoul. Christine and the Phantom get all the best songs, “All I Ask of You” is pretty meh when stacked up against “Point of No Return,” “Phantom of the Opera,” and “Music of the Night.” And when Raoul comes to rescue her from the Phantom’s lair at the end of the musical, she just really doesn’t seem all that excited to leave. I get that Raoul and the Phantom are supposed to represent two different choices for Christine, the Phantom being “Darkness” and Raoul being “Light,” but what’s wrong with a little Darkness (and probably some light bondage) when Light is that boring? In the prologue, we see Raoul as an old man after Christine has died, but it never explicitly states that they stayed together. I give Christine six months tops of living with boring old Raoul before she starts skulking around the old opera house, hoping for a little Phantom on the side.

(Also, I know there’s a sequel to this musical, but I have decided to pretend it’s not canon. I did, however, just look up the plot to Love Never Dies on Wikipedia, and boy is it is it wild.)

Maureen Johnson and Joanne Jefferson, Rent:

As the stand-in for La Boheme‘s Musetta, Maureen fulfills all the character requirements by being larger than life, self-centered, flirtatious, fabulous, and fond of tempestuous relationships. Said tempestuous relationship in Rent would be between Maureen and her girlfriend Joanne — a love affair that is consistently on-again/off-again. Though they’re technically together by the end of the musical, it feels like it’s only a matter of time before they break it off again. It’s likely they’ll have a couple more years of being on/off before Joanne finally decides to get off the merry-go-round for good. Either that, or Maureen’s going to dump her for someone else. (Not Mark, though.)

Joanna and Antony, Sweeney Todd:

Here’s a fun game: name as many Sondheim-written shows as you can that don’t end with someone dead, emotionally devastated, or both.

This romance is comprised of one person who is naïve to the ways of the world, and one person who has been through way too much shit to ever connect with people in a normal way ever again. Out of sheer survival instinct and a need to escape the carnival of horrors that is Sweeney Todd‘s London, Joanna will for sure marry Antony, but she’ll spend the rest of her days inwardly rolling her eyes at every pronouncement Antony makes about how beautiful the world is and how lucky they are to be alive. (Though I’ve always wondered: if Judge Turpin is dead, and Joanna was his ward and intended bride, does that mean she inherits his fortune? Because if that’s the case, Joanna’s going to drop Antony like a bag of rocks, go build a house in the most isolated place she can find, and enjoy the rest of her days as a hermit, with only her birds for company.)

Hodel and Perchik, Fiddler on the Roof:

They moved to Siberia. Well, they were forced to move to Siberia. Well, Perchik was forced to move to Siberia, and Hodel, with the bearing of a saint about to be martyred, agreed to join him there because she loved him just that much. If they don’t die of starvation or exposure, they’ll probably stay together, but it won’t be a great life.

Marius Pontmercy and Cosette, Les Miserables:

These two will stay together for life, though that has more to do with the fact that they exist in the mid-nineteenth century than their actual level of happiness. Neither person is at fault, really: Cosette is so sheltered she was bound to fall in love with the first boy who snuck over her garden wall, and Marius used to be on that same level of naïveté but is now stuck with an epic case of PTSD and survivor’s guilt. Their relationship will last the rest of their lives. At least Valjean left them a lot of money.

Bobby and Anybody, Company:

I really, really hope that Bobby finally does decide to become an active participant in the world. The song “Being Alive” is just that good, especially when sung by Raul Esparza. That being said, the odds of Bobby ending up committed in a loving, lasting relationship are 50/50 at best. In the finale he arrives at this wonderful epiphany, but epiphanies don’t always stick around long-term. And let’s face it, when it comes to love and relationships, Bobby’s friends are truly terrible role models: there’s Joanne, the bitter alcoholic on husband number three; Amy, the woman who ends up panicking under a table on the day of her wedding; and Harry and Sarah, who bait each other until they end up engaging in martial arts combat. (I would totally grab drinks with Joanne and make fun of everyone in the bar with her — but she’s not someone I’d model my whole life on.)

Princeton and Kate Monster, Avenue Q:

Here are some of the good points in Princeton and Kate’s relationship: they are incredibly compatible in bed, and over the course of the musical Princeton reaches a level of emotional maturity at which he might be able to provide Kate with the love and support she needs. These are the downsides: Princeton can be a little dense when it comes to the prejudice Kate faces as a monster, and I have a feeling that his dalliance with Lucy is going to be a chip on Kate’s shoulder for a while.

I can foresee Kate and Princeton having another rough patch about six months after they get back together. Princeton will start to feel inadequate when he observes Kate’s success with her Monstersori School, and Kate will overcompensate and end up making the situation worse. From there, we’ll see whether Princeton’s personal growth at the end of the musical is permanent. If it is, they’ll work through it and be fine. If not, Kate will just have to take comfort in her career success until she finds a person who is truly worthy of her.

Nathan Detroit and Miss Adelaide, Guys and Dolls:

Normally, I would not advocate for the “marry the man today and change his ways tomorrow” plan espoused by Adelaide, but in her case, tricking Nathan into marriage might not be the worst idea ever. Consider this: Nathan and Adelaide have been engaged for fourteen years, during which time Nathan never strayed. (Also of note: it seems pretty clear that those were not fourteen celibate years, so we know they’re sexually compatible.) The real hiccup in their courtship shouldn’t be Nathan dragging his feet to the altar — it should be his gambling problems. For the sake of her eventual mortgage, I would advise Adelaide to keep a separate bank account with a very secure password, or that persistent cold of hers might just flare up again.

Dolly Levi and Horace Vandergelder, Hello Dolly!:

Dolly deserves better than old stick-in-the-mud Horace. He never gives his employees a day off, he doesn’t approve of the way Dolly dresses, and he sings a whole song all about how having a wife means having an extra person to muck out the stable. Dolly’s first husband Ephram sounds like a hoot, and it’s a real shame that he died. In a perfect world, Dolly would wait around (she does just fine on her own, after all) until another man as fun-loving as Ephram comes along, or she’d fill up her house with a bunch of friends as amazing as she is, and live her life in a more Mame fashion (not a shock: Jerry Herman composed both musicals). But Dolly wants Horace, and Dolly pretty much gets whatever Dolly wants. And Dolly’s a smart lady — I think the main qualities she likes in Horace are that he’s rich and also dumb enough to be molded into pretty much whatever she wants. It’ll take a bit of effort on her part, but they’ll probably do alright.

Lizzie Curry and Sheriff File, 110 in the Shade:

I’m really rooting for these two. You might be expecting for me to say that Lizzie should end up with the passionate con man/rainmaker Starbuck, but I think the musical got it right: Starbuck is really good for a fling, but he doesn’t have the attention span to make it for the long haul. The caring, stable File is the ideal choice in this scenario. This is doubly true when you consider that, by her own admission, Lizzie doesn’t want to be an adventurer or a world traveller — she just wants to build a home and a family with someone who loves her.

This certainly doesn’t mean that Lizzie is submissive or lacking in personality — in fact, it’s alluded to that the reason she has so many troubles with men is because she’s so independent, and she refuses to dumb herself down in order to appear more charming. Both she and Sheriff File have their share of issues to work through — File has had trust issues ever since his wife left him, and Lizzie deals with plenty of insecurity — but they really seem to get each other. So Lizzie can have the best of both worlds: she can have awesome sex with Starbuck, give herself a good ego boost and leave before she gets wise to his flaky tendencies, and then she can go off and marry File. Everybody seems okay with this arrangement, so who am I to argue?

Mame and Vera, Mame: 

Husbands come and husbands go, but Mame and Vera are for life. I flat-out refuse to believe that Mame isn’t shaking Vera’s rocks glass on a regular basis — they just keep it on the down-low; it’s still the 1920s. This is not to say that Mame and Vera don’t have their faults as a couple — some might say Vera drinks a little too much, and I don’t think she’s every going to really forget the time Mame ruined her play. The two also bait and insult each other constantly…but that’s part of their chemistry. They are both excellent communicators! They know when to give each other space, and they know when to come together and support one another. These two Bosom Buddies will be together for life.

Marian and Harold Hill, The Music Man:

The rest of the town thinks Marian is a weird librarian/harlot, so she’s just happy to meet a man who doesn’t support censorship. She inadvertently convinces Harold to give up the con and settle down, just by hanging out and being herself — she even tells him she’s okay with him leaving, and she’s just happy to have known him. Without any moralizing or pressure on her part, Harold decides he’s in love with her and sticks around.

As for their future, who knows? They might leave Iowa for a while and just travel around living by their wits, but I think an even better scenario would be if Marian ran for Mayor of River City, with Harold Hill as her campaign manager. She would do a bang-up job, he’s got the right personality for political machinations, and Marian would keep him (mostly) honest.

Marissa Levien is an artist and writer whose work has been published in Pure Coincidence, Sundog Lit, Penny Dreadful, Literary Manhattan, and Storychord. She works as a gallerist for Cavin-Morris Gallery in NYC, and on weekends one can find her sipping whiskey and talking literature as a guide on New York's Literary Pub Crawl Tour.

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