Wonder of wonders! Wedding season is just around the corner, spring has sprung, and love is in the air. While there are many Spring Awakening puns we could splash in here, we’ll spare you and cut to the chase: theatre has produced some amazing love songs, some that even your non-theatre friends have probably heard through various covers.
While many may reference “Sunrise, Sunset,” theatre enthusiasts around the world know that there are many upon many songs from Broadway that are perfect for you and your loved one to share that special moment with. If you’re shouting from the rooftops that your significant other is a Bendel bonnet, a Shakespeare sonnet, or Mickey Mouse…chances are love songs from the theatre resonate with you, and that’s a playing field that we know, understand, and love right alongside with you.
“One Hand, One Heart?” Of course, one of West Side Story’s tear inducing, imagined wedding for Tony and Maria is essentially short and sweet vows set to lyrics, a quick Google search shows that many couples do use this song at their weddings. What else is out there? We’ve compiled your best Broadway songs for summer love.
1. “Helpless” (Hamilton)
Ok, so Eliza and Alexander Hamilton don’t turn out as the happiest ending, but doesn’t the chorus and the piano notation in this song just shout wedding ceremony or reception? For any theatre buff or Hamilton fan, the words “I look into your eyes and the sky’s the limit” basically write the vows themselves. The suggestion to get “a little place in Harlem and we’ll figure it out” exemplifies the hope and love of any newlywed couple. The ‘Here Comes the Bride’ riff at around 3:45 doesn’t hurt, either.
2. “Being Alive” (Company)
It’s no wonder this finale is listed in many of Broadway’s top love song playlists, and though the meaning and mastery of it may be disputed among critics, we all get the feels for someone who sits in our chair and ruins our sleep. Using it in its entirety may require some rewording (don’t tell Sondheim), which is just perfect for those who opt for a live musician at their ceremony or dance.
For a song that comes at Bobby’s acceptance of wanting to love and be loved, the song is a heart wrenching and sobering reminder of why that perfect somebody balances us out and, well, makes us feel alive. If you get through this one with a dry eye…might we suggest getting your tear ducts examined?
3. “Marry Me a Little” (Company/Marry Me a Little)?
A piece that, like “Being Alive,” had many applauding Raul Esparza’s rendition of in the 2006 revival of Company, the song had been cut from the show and later included in the Sondheim musical of the same name, Marry Me a Little in 1980 before formally being added to the end of Company’s Act 1 in the 1990s.
While the song has a faster tempo, the sentiment and energy behind the lyrics drive the message home. Straight and to the point!
4. “Funny Valentine” (Babes in Arms)
Written for Rodgers and Hart’s 1937 musical, Babes in Arms, the song has become a stellar jazz standard, and you can’t lose by going with Ella Fitzgerald’s recording of the piece.
The musical depicts the character of Billie lamenting over Val (aka Valentine) and some of his odd characteristics, ultimately professing her love for all of his quirks and his smile. The song ends with the conclusion that “each day is Valentine’s Day.” You heard ‘em!
5. “Not While I’m Around” (Sweeney Todd)
As Barbara Streisand said before her performance of the song in the 90s, “It’s always nice to have someone looking out for you, no matter how old you are.” While the scene has a sinister undertone in the musical, the tenderness in the lyrics and yearning to care and protect someone ring loud and clear for any loved one…not to mention the beautiful string and horns section in the Broadway recordings. With a similar ambiance to Sondheim’s other piece, “No One is Alone” (Into the Woods), the song captures exactly what that piece and many of his other signature compositions do: someone is there for you. What better way to underline that love and devotion than with a ballad?
6. “They Say It’s Wonderful” (Annie Get Your Gun)
Just like the previous track, this is another one knocked out of the park by Bernadette Peters, but you could always go to the Ethel Merman version if that’s what you’re craving.
An optimistic love song written by Irving Berlin in 1946, and covered by everyone from Coltrane to Kirsten Dunst (yes, Spider-Man 3), the song has become a throwback reminiscent to vintage dresses and golden sunsets, despite being cut from the cloth of a wild west show known for “Anything You Can Do.” Cowgirls can be romantics! Though I can’t recall who said it.
7. “Til There Was You” (The Music Man)
Non-theater fans may be familiar with this song through The Beatles, Peggy Lee, or Anita Bryant, but it was written for the 1957 musical and quickly became a hit. The song hit the Billboard 100 and was covered by the fab four in 1963, only amplifying its popularity. Rumor has it that McCartney didn’t even know the song was from The Music Man when their rendition was recorded, so here’s a toast to the musical that brought everyone a love song that has spanned genres and the globe through its various covers.