In celebration of Valentine’s Day, here are some of our very favorite love songs from the musical theater canon. Enjoy!
‘Some Enchanted Evening’ from South Pacific
This Rodgers & Hammerstein classic embodies the essence of love at first sight. Its lush melody and romantic lyrics perfectly capture the magic of falling in love. ‘Some Enchanted Evening’ earns its spot for its enduring popularity and its ability to evoke the wonder of romance.
‘Tonight’ from West Side Story
In this poignant duet, Tony and Maria express their love despite the tensions surrounding them. Leonard Bernstein’s sweeping score and Stephen Sondheim’s heartfelt lyrics make this a Broadway classic. The song was originally written as a solo for Tony, but Sondheim and Bernstein later decided to turn it into a duet to heighten the emotional impact of the scene. ‘Tonight’ is noted for its emotional intensity and its status as a quintessential Broadway love ballad.
‘You Matter to Me’ from Waitress
In Sara Bareilles’s musical adaptation of Waitress, Jenna finds solace from her abusive marriage with love interest Dr. Pomatter. With the tender lyrics of ‘You Matter to Me,’ the two affirm their love for each other and relish in finding a partner to requite their affection. It’s a beautiful moment of vulnerability and calm amid a tumultuous journey for our protagonist.
‘I Could Have Danced All Night’ from My Fair Lady
Eliza Doolittle’s joyous declaration of love and newfound freedom is captured beautifully in this Lerner and Loewe masterpiece. It is theatrical lore that Julie Andrews, who originated the role of Eliza on Broadway, recorded the song in one take, despite having a cold at the time. The recording went on to become a bestseller and a treasured classic.
‘As Long As You’re Mine’ from Wicked
This haunting duet between Elphaba and Fiyero in the smash hit Wicked represents the intensity and passion of forbidden love. Stephen Schwartz’s evocative lyrics and soaring melody make it unforgettable for its contemporary appeal and its portrayal of love amidst adversity. Idina Menzel and Norbert Leo Butz, as Broadway’s original Elphaba and Fiyero, respectively, enter the canon of musical theatre love songs with this number.
‘Changing My Major’ from Fun Home
In Jeanine Tesori and Lisa Kron’s adaptation of the Alison Bechdel memoir graphic novel, Alison’s sexual awakening is depicted with this euphoric tune. She bashfully declares her fascination with Joan, as Tesori’s anthemic melody and Kron’s authentic lyrics beautifully convey the rush of emotions, and the freedom of her self-discovery. It’s both a song about love of another, and also about self-love and finding courage in your own identity. Alison’s vulnerability and newfound understanding of both herself and her feelings for Joan make it a powerful and relatable number.
‘Seasons of Love’ from Rent
This iconic anthem celebrates love in all its forms, urging us to measure our lives in the love that surrounds us. Jonathan Larson’s poignant lyrics and memorable melody have made it an enduring favorite for all theatre kids. Larson is said to have written ‘Seasons of Love’ in just one night, capturing the essence of the show’s themes in a burst of creativity. The act two opener is listed for its universal message and its significance in the modern Broadway repertoire.
‘So in Love’ from Kiss Me, Kate
Cole Porter’s sultry jazz waltz is a declaration of passion and desire. Its sophisticated lyrics and lush melody make it a standout in the Great American Songbook. ‘So in Love’ was famously covered by jazz legend Ella Fitzgerald, whose rendition became a jazz standard in its own right. This song is remembered for its timeless elegance and its portrayal of love’s intoxicating allure.
‘I Don’t Know How to Love Him’ from Jesus Christ Superstar
Mary Magdalene’s soul-searching ballad in the Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice rock opera is a poignant exploration of love and devotion. Its questioning melody and introspective lyrics resonate deeply across generations since the musical’s 1971 debut. Yvonne Elliman, who originated the role of Mary Magdalene on Broadway, was initially reluctant to sing the song due to its religious themes, but was convinced when Webber performed it for her in his flat. She ultimately delivered a captivating performance that became a highlight of the show, with its emotional depth and its unique perspective on love.