Similar, but this time longest-running. I’ll put the number of how they rank in long-running musicals, even if it seems nonconsecutive, because I have not seen some of the actual 10.
1. The Phantom of the Opera by Andrew Lloyd Webber. Christ, no. Phantom is considered one of the most romantic musicals ever. There are romantic elements to the story, and several romances are present, but functional? Not hardly. Part of the reason that Phantom was my freshman year of high school, aside from the fact that that’s when the movie came out, is the metaphorical parallels we drew between our lives and the creepy-ass relationships in Phantom. Also, two of my friends once successfully rewrote “Music of the Night” as “Creeper of the Night,” and it was still basically canon. This is a musical about stalking and kidnapping. And then about Raoul, who is widely disliked for the same reasons that Riley Finn is widely disliked. He’s a good, stable guy, but he’s just not that interesting sometimes. And his and Christine’s love is fraught with white knight b.s., which is just not good in other ways. I love the musical for many sentimental and also “oh gods Meg is adorable even if she is not actually in it much” reasons, but the nonfunctional romances are not really why.
3. Les Miserables by Claude-Michel Schonberg. Basically already discussed.
4. Chicago by John Kander, Fred Ebb, and Bob Fosse. Ha. This is a musical about extramarital affairs and murder. That says it all.
5. A Chorus Line by James Kirkwood, Jr., Nicholas Dante, Edward Kleban, and Marvin Hamlisch. Really doesn’t have romance in it. There’s the teensy Zach/Cassie thing, which is barely a plot point, and Kristine and Al are married, though it doesn’t matter either. Not really.
6. The Lion King by Elton John, Tim Rice, Hans Zimmer, and some other people. I don’t even feel comfortable saying this is relevant. Simba and Nala are in lion-love I guess? Presumably Mufasa and Sarabi were in lion-love before his untimely death? The erotic aerial tree ballet in “Can You Feel the Love Tonight” is creepy, but that’s not the plot’s fault.
8. Beauty and the Beast by Alan Menken, Howard Ashman, Tim Rice, and Linda Woolverton. Discussed last week.
9. Rent by Jonathan Larson. I’m just going to take this one relationship by relationship. But I think that, while dramatic, while sometimes crappy, while sometimes not functional because relationships aren’t always, really, a lot of these romances are acceptable. None of them are creepy or overtly, consistently bad. Roger/Mimi, well, they flirt, they’re all lovey, Mimi has problems and Roger has problems and they don’t really know how to be in a relationship sometimes, but they try, and they fail, and then it’s the end and she’s almost dead and they have a big fancy near-death love song. Maureen/Joanne, I don’t even care, I support this forever. Maureen is kind of an awful girlfriend a lot of the time, yes. But I think that Joanne is good for Maureen, and Maureen is good for Joanne when she’s not making mistakes, and they work together, and I think that together they grow and belong together, yes. Angel/Collins, well, this is widely accepted as the most romantic!!! ever!!! and I can’t really dispute this. They are fully functional. It works. I am a sap about Rent, yes.
10. Mamma Mia! by Catherine Johnson and, uhm, ABBA. I’ve only seen the movie, and that only once, but, uhm. Not entirely functional, considering the entire plot premise, but it could be worse. Maybe. Much as it pains me to admit.
12. Wicked by Stephen Schwartz. Fiyero/G(a)linda is not functional, because it is a not-fun game of pretend. Fiyero/Elphaba is… debatably functional. Not entirely problematic, but I’ve read the book, it clouds my judgment of everything that happens in Act II.
13. 42nd Street by Michael Stewart, Mark Bramble, Al Dubin, and Harry Warren. This is a cliche fairy tale kind of love that comes from nowhere, and I can’t take it seriously.