BY: ELIZABETH DURAND STREISAND / ILLUSTRATION BY:SAMIA FAKIH
Relationships are hard. And perhaps nowhere are the challenges of relationships better illustrated than on Broadway. There are relationships that could really benefit from some boundaries. Friendships that border on obsession. And romances that are doomed from the outset. Here’s our top five shows that capture the modern meaning of “it’s complicated.”
Tina Turner and Ike, from Tina: The Tina Turner Musical
Tina Turner is nothing short of a living legend, but despite the fact that she has sold 180 million records worldwide and has 11 Grammy Awards to her name, her stormy relationship with Ike is one of the first facts that comes to mind at the mention of her name. To be fair, that’s partly because she rose to fame in the 1960s alongside her then-husband Ike. However, they separated in 1976 and she largely forged her own path after that, finally revealing in her autobiography that she had endured domestic abuse at his hands. Tina: The Tina Turner Musical shines the spotlight on her career while acknowledging the troubled times that help to make her the star she is today.
Orpheus and Euydice, from Hadestown
The Tony-winning Broadway musical Hadestown is a love story that follows the path of so many others. Boy meets girl. Boy falls in love with girl. Girl wanders off (well, something like that) and boy loses girl. This time, however, the girl wanders into Hadestown, an industrial city in the underworld. Naturally Orpheus embarks on a journey to save her – you probably know the rest from your high school English courses (if you did the required reading, that is), but it’s safe to say that this show captures the fever-pitch of new love and the challenges that can stand in its way.
Cady Heron and Regina George, from Mean Girls
Not all complicated relationships are romantic, just ask high schooler Cady Heron. In Tina Fey’s opus, Mean Girls, Cady pretend-befriends Regina George, the blond, vicious leader of The Plastics. But the closer Cady gets to Regina “for research” the closer she gets to Regina for real – until Cady’s true feelings for Regina are no longer clear, even to Cady herself. While not everyone has buddied up with someone in the hopes of taking that person down, it’s safe to say that most of us have been in relationships that we struggled to define. If you didn’t think Mean Girls was deep, think again. (Also, this show is great for a date! Just saying.)
Christine Daae and Phantom, from The Phantom of the Opera
Once in a while someone comes into your life who teaches you and nurtures you, and you feel overwhelmingly indebted to them as a result. No one understands this sentiment better than Christine Daae, the female star of The Phantom of the Opera. An up-and-coming opera singer, Christine gets invaluable lessons from a secretive tutor, the Phantom of the Opera. Their relationship turns sour, however, when it becomes clear that Phantom’s interest in her goes beyond her singing and the guy has some serious boundary issues.
Princess Diana and Prince Charles, from Diana
If you think things are wild with the British royal family these days (insert the latest gossip about Meghan Markle and Prince Harry here), you should go back and see how it was when Princess Diana was married to Prince Charles. She was all of 20 years old. He was 12 years her senior and was probably in love with someone else at the time. What could go wrong? The new musical, succinctly titled Diana, looks at the remarkable life of the late People’s Princess – a young woman who didn’t fit in with The Firm from the outset but who wasn’t able to fully break away. “It’s complicated” might be the understatement of the century.
These + all shows on Broadway are in play at Broadway Roulette!
A version of this story first appeared in W42St magazine. Sign up for their weekly newsletter here!