Love Triangles… Love ‘Em or Hate ‘Em? | Musical Theatre Discussion

Guten Morgen, Leute! To put it shortly, I like a good love triangle though I find that love triangles are very easily messed up. And well… a bad love triangle is one of the most frustrating things ever. Some love triangles get me hitting myself over my head, wanting to run into a wall. But some love triangles are well… great! And that generally happens to be the case, at least in my experience, with musical theatre love triangles. So, let’s look at a few of the ones that come to mind, shall we? Los geht’s!
*Spoilers ahead! Approach with caution!

COSETTE x MARIUS x ÉPONINE from LES MISÉRABLES 

When I think of musical theatre love triangles, my mind, for whatever reason, skips right to this lovely little love triangle from LES MIZ. This is the perfect sort of love triangle for me. Why? Because there’s no “I love you! –Wait, never mind, I love this other person!” nonsense going on. Marius loves Cosette and that’s all there is to it. Nothing frustrating at all about it. And sure, it’s sad on Éponine’s part but that tragedy truly is a necessary plot device. Hugo didn’t put Marius and Cosette together “just because.” No! It is essential to the rest of the story. Believe me, it is. So, I love this love triangle–it’s really well done! The necessity for this love triangle only makes it better, in my opinion! Think about everything that would be wrong with the story if Marius had been in love with Éponine! For one thing, Jean Valjean’s story would become entirely irrelevant and there would be a huge disconnect. For another thing, Marius likely wouldn’t have gone to the barricade and Éponine wouldn’t have died or anything. And well… I don’t know what you all think but I certainly don’t think that it would be good.

DER TOD x SISI x FRANZ JOSEPH from ELISABETH

Ah… this love triangle is tough. And man, I love it. Sure, Sisi’s pretty unsure about what she wants throughout most of the musical but it’s pretty forgivable given the situation presented to her. Pretty early on she decides that Franz Joseph and herself are doomed. In “Ich gehör nur mir”, she makes up her mind that she wants to be her own person amd doesn’t want to be some prize on Franz Joseph’s shelf. This is made abundantly clear in “Elisabeth mach auf” where it is pretty undeniable that Sisi has bern holding Franz Joseph at arm’s length since his refusal to stand up to his mother’s tyranical stranglehold on Sisi (and his own life). She puts their relationship into his hands when she gives him her ultimatum. When Franz Joseph leaves, we see how deep Sisi’s pain and grief goes as der Tod makes an appearance on the stage. Sisi’s depressed and contemplating suicide but, just as she is about to give in to der Tod, she decides that she wants to live. Der Tod presents his case to Sisi in songs like “Der letzte Tanz”, “Die Schatten werden länger”, “Elisabeth, mach auf”, “Wenn ich tanzen will”, and “Die letzte Chance.” Each time, Sisi refuses to give up on her life despite how much der Tod insists that she needs him. With Franz Joseph, however, we don’t see Sisi truly give up on him until “Boote in der Nacht” where she proclaims that they never were a good match in the first place. Earlier on than that, however, in the Act I finale, “Ich gehör nur mir (reprise)”, when Franz Joseph approaches Sisi as if hopeful that everything will be better again, Sisi solemnly holds up her hand, telling him that things will never be the way they once were. While Sisi does indeed spurn der Tod several times, it is always with a hint of reluctance. She’s not telling him “No, never!” but rather “No, not yet!” And sure enough, in the end, Sisi does run into der Tod’s arms after Luchini stabs her. She’s finally ready to join him. She’s lived her life and now she can rest. This love triangle is definitely one of my favorites due to the fierce honesty and realness of it. It is also one of those love triangles that can be interpreted in so many ways that the options are pretty much endless!

ELPHABA x FIYERO x GLINDA from WICKED

While I can’t say that WICKED’s love triangle is the most complex or complicated on this list, I will say that it is indeed one of the most shocking (at least the first time ’round). Sure, ELISABETH’s love triangle is complicated but the fact that der Tod “wins” in the end isn’t really shocking. I mean, he’s Death. But WICKED’s live triangle truly can be shocking to a first-time viewer. After all, at first it seems like Glinda and Fiyero are endgame. Except they’re not. Because Fiyero grows up a little and sees that Elphaba is the girl for him, not Glinda. I love WICKED’s love triangle but man, I wish we got a little more meat on the bones of this story, if you know what I mean.

EMANUEL x ELEONORE x JOHANN FRIEDEL from SCHIKANEDER

Hey… another Stephen Schwartz musical on this list? Well, well, well. Now, the end result of this love triangle isn’t at all hard to guess. I mean, just look at the poster for the musical! Yes, Emanuel and Eleonore are endgame. But… in a sense, so are Johann and Eleonore. Wait… what?! Yeah, yeah… bear with me though. If Johann Friedel hadn’t died, it is very likely that Eleonore wouldn’t have reconciled with Emanuel at all. And yet, this fact remains: Johann Friedel was something of a rebound. At least, that’s always how I’ve interpreted it. I hate calling Johann a rebound because it makes it sound as if Eleonore had no affection for him whatsoever. Which is sumply untrue. But I think that Eleonore went with Johann because she was tired of Emanuel’s childishness more than anything else. I, however, think that, if Emanuel had come to her abd declared that he was going to change, Eleonore would have returned to him much sooner. In SCHIKANEDER, Emanuel learns that Eleonore is truly the woman for him and that he wouldn’t be able to go on without her. And I definitely don’t think that he’d have realized that if Eleonore hadn’t given up on him. Although Eleonore does give up on Emanuel, their reconciliation is well… inevitable. After all, it is a romantic comedy. Letting Emanuel change and have Eleonore and him never reconcile would well, offer up more of a tragic ending. Do I love this love triangle? Most certainly!

RAOUL x CHRISTINE x PHANTOM from THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA


Alright. PHANTOM. Those of you who’ve been following my blog will know that I like Raoul a whole lot better than the Phantom. Yes, I know it’s an unpopular opinion, but I digress. I like the PHANTOM love triangle on its own but its sequel LOVE NEVER DIES throws a wrench into all of that and messes nigh upon everything up. I’d rather not do it, but for the purposes of this post, I will: mash LND with PHANTOM for a moment. I am trying to not ram my head into the wall at the utter insanity that PHANTOM becomes when LND gets thrown into the mix. This PHANTOM-LND hybrid presents the perfect example of a horrible, atrocious, frustrating love triangle. The absolute joke that a good love triangle becomes due to a poorly written sequel is truly sad. Alright. Separate the two musicals again and all is as it should be again. So, what do I think of this love triangle? Well, I like it! Just as long as I can forget that LOVE NEVER DIES exists.

RUSTY x PEARL x GREASEBALL from STARLIGHT EXPRESS 

Ah… this love triangle. It’s tough to say what I think about this one because there’s so much and yet so little going on. All the promo shots tell the audience that Rusty and Pearl are endgame and well… from the beginning of the show it’s pretty clear tgat that’s where this is going. However, Dinah and Greaseball come onto the scene and throw the whole thing in a love triangle (possibly square?) direction. Rusty loves Pearl but Pearl doesn’t initially take much interest in Rusty. After all, he’s not known for being especially special. Everyone calls him Rusty because of his rusty frame. On top of that, he’s a steam train and considered “outdated.” Pearl, being a new train, is seeking someone more new and shiny at the beginning of the musical. Nonetheless, Pearl is one of the trains that’s nice to Rusty and it’s implied that she has a crush on him. However, for the most part, Pearl seems to view Rusty as more of a friend than anything. Greaseball comes along and its made pretty clear that Dinah, Pearl’s friend is in love with him and that she and Greaseball are in some sort of relationship. It is clear, though that Dinah takes the relationship much more seriously than Greaseball. Eventually it becomes clear that Greaseball has some sort of interest in Pearl and this breaks Dinah’s heart. Rusty doesn’t really react to this new relationship in one way or another however Pearl does contemplate whether or not Greaseball’s the right guy for her in the song “Make Up My Heart.” All of the lyrics make the audien think that Rusty is the obvious choice. But it is easy to maintain patience with Pearl as she really means no harm and seeing as she has not made an commitment to either Rusty or Greaseball, it is easy to not get frustrated with the situation. After the race, however, Pearl realizes that she does love Rusty after all and that he’s the only one for her Dinah too gets her closure as she and Greaseball reconcile. Overall, I will say that I do really like this love triangle. It was a huge part if my childhood and perhaps that is why it still remains dear to my heart. It most certainly isn’t the most perfect love triangle but I think that it is quite sweet!

CHARLES x LUCIE x SYDNEY from A TALE OF TWO CITIES

So, this picture is deceiving (to say the least). Unfortunately enough for Sydney, he never truly gets to “see his dreams come true.” At least… not in the sense that he was originally thinking. I’ll admit that while I love and feel bad for Sydney, I would never change a thing about this love triangle. While Sydney ultimately dies so that Lucie and Charles can be happy (and safe), Sydney still does get a happy ending in a way. Charles Dickens famously gave Sydney the last words: “It is a far, far better thing I do than I have ever done. It is a far, far better rest I go to than I have ever known.” And the last words of the musical are: “If life were ever quite this sweet, I can’t recall.” This love triangle just is perfect the way it is and I love it!

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So… love triangles! Do you love them or hate them? Which ones are your favorites? Vielen Dank und tschüss!

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3 thoughts on “Love Triangles… Love ‘Em or Hate ‘Em? | Musical Theatre Discussion

  1. Glinda, Elphaba, and Fiyero: my favorite love triangle and the most complicated one I know of due to the plot twist that happens in the midst of them. They were the first one I ever connected to. This one not only has two best friends, but the plot twist makes this so memorable. I love all three characters.

    Marius, Cosette, and Eponine. love them as well. They sure helped me understand love triangles better due to Eponine. I thought I understand unrequited love, but Eponine showed me I was wrong and because her story actually revolves around unrequited love, I was able to finally understand the heartbreak and pain that comes with unrequited love in the first place. Eponine is a huge reason why I love this love triangle.

    Raoul, Christine, and the Phantom: I love them as well, but not as much as the other two. I still don’t why I love this love triangle. Raoul and Christine are a wonderful couple. Phantom is a character who does not respond well to unrequited love unlike Elphaba, Glinda, and Eponine

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    1. Phantom’s love triangle is one that I’m unsure as to why I like it as well. Sometimes I’m not particularly sure if I’m entirely fond of it either, weirdly enough! But mostly I think that it’s a love triangle I get frustrated with because so many things like the sequel and the fan base kind of ruin it for me in a sense with all of its blatant Raoul hate.

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