46 Broadway Actors Share Their Most Romantic Stage Roles

Special Features   46 Broadway Actors Share Their Most Romantic Stage Roles
 
Lea Salonga, Norm Lewis, Betty Buckley, André De Shields, Chita Rivera, Kelli O'Hara, Shereen Pimentel, and more recall their most memorable love-filled theatre outings.
46 Most Romantic Stage Roles_HR

As theatre fans eagerly await the reopening of theatres around the country, we reached out to a host of multitalented Broadway artists to discover the most romantic role they had ever played on stage and what made the experience memorable.

Read the diverse responses from 46 actors this Valentine's Day below.

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Max von Essen and Nick Adams Joan Marcus

Nick Adams
The most romantic role I’ve ever played was Whizzer in the U.S. tour of Lincoln Center Theater’s Broadway production of Falsettos. To be able to play a romantic gay male lead, in all its complexities in a groundbreaking queer piece of theatre all across this country and opposite one of my best friends, was one of the most memorable experiences of my lifetime.

Josh Breckenridge
The most romantic role I’ve played on stage has got to be the role of Dr. Jon Fielding opposite Wesley Taylor as Michael “Mouse” Tolliver in ACT’s world-premiere production of Armistead Maupin’s Tales of the City. Michael and Jon’s love story is one of the first literary examples of a beautiful same-sex relationship between two men. I cannot count the amount of Maupin fans that came up to me at the stage door professing their adoration of these young lovers' story and how much it positively affected them as a gay youth. I was honored to be a part of the debut musical based off of the first couple books of Armistead’s cherished and colossal book series. In the summer of 2011, after many readings in years passed, the first audiences witnessed these stories jump from the page to stage. I found this role and onstage relationship so romantic because although the two have their dramatic ups and downs, their love for each other is a shining light that demands acceptance; challenged by the show and books' darkest topic, homophobia. What’s more romantic than love preserving against all odds?

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John Barrowman and Betty Buckley Donald Cooper

Betty Buckley
In thinking about the most romantic roles I've played, I've remembered several, and, on examination, I have realized that my most romantic roles, curiously, all share a thwarted theme. In Triumph of Love, I played Hesione, a spinster who fell in love with the character beautifully played by Ms. Susan Egan. Susan played a young princess disguised as a boy who seduced everyone, F. Murray Abraham and Chris Siebert and me. So, Hesione was an older woman in love with a much younger man, who was really a young woman. In The Mystery of Edwin Drood, I played young Edwin, who was in love with Rosabud, exquisitely played by Ms. Patti Cohenour. So, I played a British Music Hall male impersonator—a girl who played a boy in love with a girl. And, in Sunset Boulevard I played Norma Desmond, who was in love with Joe Gillis, played by Misters John Barrowman in London and Alan Campbell and Bryan Batt on Broadway. Joe Gillis, of course, was in love with Betty Schaefer. In films I have played women in love with men who don't love them back, like Dixie Scott in Tender Mercies, who still carried the torch for Max, her ex-husband masterfully played by the great Robert Duvall. All of these roles give a girl singer/story teller grounds for big passion. So that's good! I guess, on television, I've had some more traditional relationships like Abby, who loved Tom Bradford charmingly played by Dick Van Patten in Eight Is Enough. And best of all, I played opposite my biggest movie star crush, Gene Hackman, in Wyatt Earp, and I worked with him again in Another Woman. Well, we were in the same scene, so I got to look at him and talk to him and study him all day. And joy of joy, he told me he owned and loved my CDs. I love him best of all! Oh, I forgot...I also got to play opposite Harrison Ford in Frantic. That was pretty great—springtime in Paris with Indiana Jones! What can I say? I was the kidnapped wife, and he spent the movie trying to find me. Pretty sweet. I don't know, I've played some pretty great characters over these years, and I really love the ones who are still longing and needing and troubled as to the illusive how of achieving the love they dream about. Happy Valentine's Day!

Stephen Carlile
The most romantic part I have ever played on stage is Freddy Eynsford-Hill in My Fair Lady. I did the 50th anniversary U.K. tour. Fifteen years later I’m still singing "On the Street Where You Live" to my wife Emily. We will make Valentine's Day special this year—even though we won’t be traveling very far from the street where we live!

Howard McGillin and Victoria Clark in <i>Gigi</i>
Howard McGillin and Victoria Clark in Gigi Photo by Joan Marcus

Victoria Clark
My favorite romantic role of late was Mamita in Gigi, where I had the fun of falling in love (again) with Howard McGillin’s stunning Honoré. Staring into his eyes and singing the yearning and understated "I Remember It Well," while wearing a magnificent Catherine Zuber costume!! Well, it doesn’t get much sexier than that!

E. Clayton Cornelious
The most romantic would have to be the role of Eddie in Sister Act. It was on the first national tour directed by Jerry Zaks (2012). Well, Sister Act marked my eighth tour, and it was also my very first leading role on a Broadway national tour. I appreciated the show, 'cause I finally didn’t have to dance but I also had the opportunity of kissing three beautifully different Deloris Van Cartiers: Ta’Rea Campbell, Rashidra Scott, and Alysha Deslorieux, all stars of the Broadway stage!

Robert Cuccioli
Emile de Becque, South Pacific, Drury Lane Theatre (Chicago). It was an overall remarkable and rewarding experience. I turned 60! I finally got to play a role I always wanted to play and sing some of the most beautiful music written for the stage. It was a beautiful gift and came at the right time in my life for me to play it.

André De Shields, Noshir Dalal, and cast of Classical Theatre of Harlem&#39;s <i>Caligula</i>
André De Shields, Noshir Dalal, and cast of Classical Theatre of Harlem's Caligula Mike Messer

André De Shields
The most romantic role I've played on stage is Caligula—yes, that Caligula, the first Roman Emperor to have been assassinated. He also was exceedingly affectionate to his horse Incitatus, and attempted to include the thoroughbred as a member of the Senate. Caligula was fatally dispatched before he could achieve that unprecedented act of imperial power. The Classical Theatre of Harlem production featured a love scene between the two, sufficiently provocative to have inspired audience members to purchase tickets to future performances during the intermission. Directed by Alfred Preisser in 2005, the play was memorable for several sensational reasons, not the least of which was having my hair chemically stripped to white, and then died to platinum blond. Do blonds have more fun? You better believe it!

Melissa Errico
The most romantic role I ever played was when I portrayed Venus, the goddess of love, in the Encores! production of One Touch of Venus. (It is impolite to ask a goddess what year that was.) The goddess is a statue who is brought to life by a kiss, and pursues that kiss—what could be more romantic? Particularly when the man who kissed her is a diminutive little barber, and he is quite shocked to be chased around by a statuesque, not to say stacked, statue. The lyrics by Ogden Nash and the book by S.J. Perelman set off the alluring and sophisticated music of Kurt Weill, and included songs I’ve made staples ever since: “That’s Him” and “I’m a Stranger Here Myself.” (I got to do the first full recording of the score! Its poster still dominates my living room.) I loved the combination of sensuality and wit, sex and absurd humor—and, above all, I loved knowing that a goddess is really only longing for what mortals already have. What’s better than a night of lovemaking and laughter? Each makes the other better. On stage or off.

Randy Graff
When you think Golde in Fiddler on the Roof you don't think romantic, but singing "Do You Love Me?" opposite Alfred Molina in the 2004 Broadway revival remains the most romantic scene I've ever played on stage. Avoiding any sentimentality, the moment where the two of us discovered we did indeed love each other was quietly tender and funny and surprising every night. Oh, and having a huge crush on your leading man doesn't hurt either. I fell in love with Fred every performance. Even on matinee days.

Sierra Boggess, Nick Spangler, Montego Glover and David Burtka
Sierra Boggess, Nick Spangler, Montego Glover and David Burtka

Montego Glover
The most romantic role I’ve ever played onstage would have to be Annie Shepard in It Shoulda Been You on Broadway. The experience was memorable for so many reasons. Here are three of them! One. Annie Shepard was the first time as an actress I got to express romantic love for a woman onstage. I’ve spent many, many years and many, many shows falling madly in love with handsome men. This time it was a gorgeous, intelligent woman. And although I’m straight, the beautiful truth (which I already knew), but got to express in a different way through art, was “Love is Love.” Two. During our run of Shoulda, SCOTUS handed down its decision making same-sex marriages legal in the United States. There I was doing a play set on a wedding day, about a woman who loves another woman with all her heart and wants to marry her. And, by the end of the play, they are engaged and planning to do just that...and now it was really possible in life. Celebrating that news at the theatre was nothing short of special. And three. We had more actual proposals than I can count take place on the deck of It Shoulda Been You at the Brooks Atkinson Theatre after our bows! Guests who asked if they could pop the question and share it with all of us (company, crew, creatives) and their fellow theatregoers for the night. So romantic!

Joel Grey and Ann Reinking in<i> Chicago</i>
Joel Grey and Ann Reinking in Chicago

Joel Grey
Amos Hart, Chicago 1996, Broadway with Ann Reinking as Roxie… Well, it was an unconventional romance in that he was in it for the long haul. He thought she was perfect, and that was enough for him. No matter how she treated him, he was always in love with her. And although he knew his limits, he knew he was Mr. Cellophane—nothing could keep him from the love of his life. I’m not exactly giving advice to the lovelorn here, but...

Justin Guarini
Bobby in Company at the Bucks County Playhouse 2015. I loved playing Bobby because I so deeply identified with his journey of going from an idealistic “boy-man” who believed love should be perfect...to recognizing that being a man in love is impossible without the imperfections and raw vulnerability that true love creates in our lives.

Julie Halston
The most romantic role I ever played onstage was myself! In 1992 I was performing at The Actors' Playhouse down in the Village in a one-woman show I wrote entitled Julie Halston's Lifetime of Comedy. Shockingly, this little show about my life got really nice reviews, and it helped launch me not only as an actress but also as a comedienne. One of the "bits" that I performed (and still perform!) is the reading of the New York Times wedding announcements. Well, one night I opened up my prop book with what I assumed was the wedding announcements that I would read that night, and instead it was a big colorful sheet of paper that said, "Julie, will you marry me?" I didn't know if this was a joke or what?? I was completely thrown—my stage manager Lisa and the man I was dating, 1010 WINS news anchor Ralph Howard, had cooked up this plan to stop the show at this point, and he would come on stage and propose. Because Ralph was press, he alerted his friends at CBS, and they were in the back of the theatre with a camera and sound equipment. I had no idea!! Somehow the audience seemed to be in on it as well, and a few women started screaming with glee. I was totally gobsmacked, and as Ralph got down on one knee and presented me with a ring, I just started crying, and the audience started cheering! It took awhile to get back to the show, but no one seemed to care; they were all delighted to be part of something special. I, of course, was on cloud nine, and the next day the whole story came out in the papers and on the 11 o'clock news! Ralph and I were married soon after, and we were together for 27 years until his passing in 2018. I will obviously never forget it!

Laura Benanti and Shuler Hensley in <i>The Most Happy Fella</i>
Laura Benanti and Shuler Hensley in The Most Happy Fella Joan Marcus

Shuler Hensley
The most romantic role and experience would have to be Tony in The Most Happy Fella at NY City Center Encores! in 2014. Singing that gorgeous music in that amazing venue with a stellar cast and full-sized orchestra made it a phenomenal experience. The fact that Laura Benanti was my leading lady ... made it unforgettable!

Ann Harada
I’ve never played a romantic role in New York, except maybe when Christmas Eve and Brian got married, but we were really only there to further the actual romantic plot of Princeton and Kate, so I don’t count it. I’ve been in exactly two shows I think in my entire career where I had a love interest as part of the plot. Both regional theatre and both about a million years ago. At Portland Stage Company in 1996 I played Zerbinette in Scapin, ending up with Leandre (Mark Fish), directed by Bart Sher; and at Paper Mill in 1990 I was in Mikado Inc. as Pitti-Sing, and I married Mr. Pish-Tush (Jason Ma) at the end. Both shows featured a wedding dress change at the curtain call. That’s how you know you’re in a romantic relationship! I loved doing both shows so much, and at least in the case of Mikado Inc., I still count people from that cast among my closest friends. Oh wait! I was in Mamma Mia! at the Muny in 2016, and I was Rosie, so I did end up with Bill. I chased him around the church. Was it romantic? I don’t know. All those couples are so weird. Mike McGowan was extremely attractive, however.

Carly Hughes
That would probably be Aida. I played her at a regional theatre in Florida. Donna Drake was our director, and she really carved out the story of the love between Aida and Radames—to make sure the audience really saw that it was their love that motivated them and it was their love that would stand the test of time. It’s such a beautiful role to sing and act.

Robyn Hurder
In 2016 I got to play Norma Cassidy in Victor/Victoria at Ogunquit Playhouse. Getting to perform “Paris Makes Me Horny” was not only the most fun number I’ve ever performed, it’s the most hilariously desperate, tragically romantic moment I’ve had on stage. A very close second is playing Lois Lane in Kiss Me, Kate opposite my husband Clyde Alves as Bill Calhoun at Shakespeare Theatre Company and The 5th Avenue Theatre. “Why Can’t You Behave?” was pretty darn romantic if I do say so myself. Sweetly seducing my husband to a Cole Porter tune onstage was very enjoyable.

Marc Kudisch
Okay. I’m not really known for playing romantic roles... quite the opposite really, but I would say it’s a tie—Trevor Graydon in Thoroughly Modern Millie (Marquis Theatre). He’s all romance. Just caught in the wrong story... and "Ah Sweet Mystery of Life"/"I’m Falling In Love With Someone", with Angie Christian, had to be one of my all-time favorite duets to perform ever. My other favorite romantic duet, Jeff Moss in Bells Are Ringing, co-starring with the wonderful Faith Prince, singing "Just in Time"... a vaudevillian love song at its best. With the best.

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Judy Kuhn and Boyd Gaines in She Loves Me Martha Swope/©NYPL for the Performing Arts

Judy Kuhn
Without a doubt the most romantic role (and show) I have done is She Loves Me. Amalia is a hopeless romantic! I did the first Broadway revival in 1993 at the Roundabout. Everything about it was special. The production was beautiful, perfectly cast. Boyd Gaines, who played George, and I had such wonderful on (and off) stage relationship. Also, for me personally to do a romantic comedy after so many tragic roles was such a gift. The audience was on their feet every night. It was such a pleasure to bring them so much joy. I have to say, when posed this question, I did think of Fosca, though that is not generally thought of as a romantic role. But who is more devoted to the idea of love than she!

Anika Larsen
Hands down the most romantic moment I’ve ever had onstage is singing “Walking in the Rain” with Jarrod Spector in Beautiful, which we opened in 2014. First of all, the red dress designed by Alejo Vietti that I got to wear was romance itself. And the song is one of my favorite Mann/Weil songs. In the play, Barry Mann starts singing it to Cynthia Weil to make up with her, and then she joins him at the piano, sings with him, and all is forgiven. Then she sits in his lap, kisses him, and pulls him offstage to dot-dot-dot. I wish for everyone reading this that they could have Jarrod Spector serenade them at some point in their lives. I mean, if Jarrod’s wife, the gorgeous and talented Kelli Barrett, gets sung to like this every time they have a fight, then I bet she picks fake fights at least twice a week.

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Telly Leung and Courtney Reed Matthew Murphy

Telly Leung
The most romantic role I've ever played on stage has to be Aladdin. The show is a classic "boy meets girl" story—or in the case of Aladdin—"street rat meets princess" story. It's a "tale as old as time" (to quote another Howard Ashman lyric), and to get to sing those sweeping melodies by Alan Menken with all my wonderful leading ladies—Courtney Reed, Arielle Jacobs, Heather Makalani, Tia Altinay, Lauryn Ciardullo, Katie Terza, Isabelle McCalla—was a true gift. All of those leading ladies were brilliant scene partners who brought their own unique and individual sense of love and strength in their portrayal of that role. It was pure joy to fall in love with them eight times a week.

Audra McDonald and Norm Lewis in <i>The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess</i>, 2012
Audra McDonald and Norm Lewis in The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess, 2012 Michael J. Lutch

Norm Lewis
Oh gosh, that's difficult! But, if I have to narrow it down, two come to mind. I would have to say the first is Porgy in The Gershwins' Porgy and Bess. The character of Porgy had not known love before meeting Bess. They worked to better themselves for each other; hence, when she leaves, he makes it his quest to go and find her. That's the beauty of love. When you work towards that goal with a special partner, one who sees you through the highs and lows, and you work to keep it intact. There was a lot of love and protection between Audra and I, and we worked together to tell their respective stories. And, I mean...you get to make out with Audra McDonald! The second is when I played Nick opposite LaChanze's Pam in the Paper Mill Playhouse production of Baby. We played a couple struggling to have a child and throughout the show we find that our love grows stronger through the challenges of trying to build a family. This is something many couples experience, and what I love about that show was that it highlighted a couple of that nature and showed that love can endure even through some of the most emotionally taxing times. And, I mean...you get to make out with LaChanze!

Taylor Louderman
While there’s a little bit of love in every role I’ve played, none have been super romantic. I guess Bring It On with its typical B plot love story warms my heart. Jason Gotay and I hit it off as Randall and Campbell: He falls for my vulnerable and courageous dance moves (spoiler alert: it wasn’t actually me in the leprechaun suit), we go on a picnic date, he helps me learn a lesson, and then a long-awaited smooch at the end of the show. We played these characters on tour and Broadway 2011–2012. It was memorable because it was our Broadway debut. I was fresh out of my sophomore year of college leading a show and between that and the musical, itself, being so high energy, the moments with Jason helped ground me (no pun intended). He has such a sweet, calming, and caring presence. One of my favorite numbers was “Enjoy the Trip” (thanks Tom Kitt and Amanda Green). I’d sit down and just listen to him sing; it was the only time I was truly able to, literally, enjoy the trip of my dream coming true. ...I also won’t forget the high-pitched squeals and swoons from the audience (teenagers) when our characters kissed. I think I speak for both of us when I say, we did a lot of growing up during that show, and, I think, started learning how to love ourselves while supporting one another. (P.S. Congrats to Jason and Michael Hartung (fellow UofM alum) on their recent engagement!)

Andrea Marcovicci
January 1989, San Francisco, ACT, The Geary Theatre. I was playing St. Joan. Maybe that doesn’t sound romantic, but I was falling madly in love with my leading man, so as I was burning at the stake show after show, the flames of a new romance were heating up the foggy San Francisco nights! My Dunois became my husband and father of our baby girl, so here’s to lighting up Valentine’s Day!

Bianca Marroquin
My most romantic role on stage would have to be Maria in Sound of Music. Love made Maria and the Captain go through transformations and made changes in their lives to be together. I thought I would only get to experience that kind of love through playing Maria. But little did I know that was actually a premonition or practice to what happened to me in real life 15 years later. I am now married to the love of my life and I’m stepmom to four beautiful girls. True love does exist. It may not come in the package you’re expecting, but it will show up, ready or not!

Luba Mason
My first leading role on Broadway was as the romantic/tragic character of Lucy Harris in Jekyll & Hyde. I took over the role from Linda Eder and played opposite Robert Cuccioli as Jekyll/Hyde, and I’ll never forget ending Act One eight times a week singing the dreamy love song “Someone Like You” to the wildly appreciative audience! Not only did the role challenge my acting chops but also my singing—a score that was one of the toughest at that time. This show fulfilled my childhood dream of starring on Broadway.

Michael McElroy and Justin Johnston in <i>Rent</i>
Michael McElroy and Justin Johnston in Rent Photo by Joan Marcus

Michael McElroy
My most romantic role was Tom Collins in Rent. What a joy to step into this character and tell that story! A NYU professor (foreshadowing, maybe?), pied piper, activist, and greatest of friends to his friends. Collins was the one who was always in control, so what a surprise to be swept off my feet eight times a week by the gentle whirlwind which is Angel. Every night I was blessed to meet, fall in love, and ultimately lose my true love. There are few and far between examples of two men of color in a healthy passionate relationship. We’re starting to see it more and more but not enough. It was a joy to go on that journey every night, not only as I fell in love with Angel but feeling the audience fall in love and root for the two of us. It’s one of the things I love about theatre. The audience gets to meet people that they might not ever meet and move past biases and prejudices to find common humanity proving that love is universal. I was honored to tell that story.

Judy McLane
I was thrilled to play the role of Aldonza in Man of La Mancha at the Paper Mill Playhouse, opposite the terrific Philip Hernandez. You don’t typically think of Aldonza as a romantic role, but for me it felt that way. Don Quixote, in his romantic, idealized view of reality, sees the beauty and goodness in Aldonza/Dulcinea, even when she can’t see it for herself. I’ve played other “romantic” roles over the years, but the depth of self love and acceptance that Aldonza finds though Don Quixote is profound. I mean, isn’t that what love is all about?

Julia Murney
I think the most romantic role I've played is one I only got to play a fraction of: Fanny Brice in Funny Girl. I was in the benefit concert for the Actors Fund where there was a different Fanny in every scene, and I was lucky on several counts: 1) I got to sing "People," which is the moment in which she 2) starts to fall for Nicky Arnstein. 3) It's a pure moment where she isn't stressed about success or all the dark stuff that comes later in the show, and Nicky was played by 4) Peter Gallagher. It was a wildly nerve-racking night to only have one shot to sing that song for that sold-out house in the company of that extraordinary company, but all I had to do was stare into those dreamy Gallagher eyes and all was good—for in that very romantic moment, Nicky propositions her, plants a good kiss on her, and leaves Fanny to realize that letting herself fall into someone else might not be so bad, after all. So she belts really high. Like you do.

Shoba Narayan
As Natasha (in The Great Comet on Broadway), there was nothing more fun than diving into the youthful spirit of loving without abandon—the kind of teenage love that is a magnet for mistakes! There’s the sinister, all-consuming, unrequited love of Nessarose (in Wicked on Broadway). The kind love that drives you so nutty, you hold your loved one hostage. But if I had to pick one, it would have to be Eliza Hamilton. There’s nothing more beautiful than the unfaltering love she shows throughout the show, that somehow survives multiple heartbreaks and still finds strength to carry a loved one’s legacy. Playing that role every night on tour was a master class in unconditional love.

Steven Pasquale and Kelli O&#39;Hara in <i>The Bridges of Madison County</i>
Steven Pasquale and Kelli O'Hara in The Bridges of Madison County Joan Marcus

Kelli O'Hara
Of course, I will say Clara in The Light in the Piazza. I mean, of course I will say Francesca in The Bridges of Madison County. Wait. There goes the struggle between the girl who will always be inside me and the woman I have become. And now, with gratitude, I exclaim, “I have them both!!!” How lucky (and romantic) am I.

Tiler Peck
The most romantic role I have played is Juliet in the tragic love story Romeo and Juliet. In 2018, my last performance of Juliet that season at the New York City Ballet happened to fall on Valentine’s Day! I don’t think there is anything more romantic than getting to fall in love onstage knowing that the feeling of love is in the air with all couples in the audience watching.

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Isaac Powell and Shereen Pimentel in West Side Story Jan Versweyveld

Shereen Pimentel
Maria in the new Broadway revival of West Side Story (haha—I know, but truly what's more romantic than this). Broadway Theatre, opening February 20, 2020. What made this experience most memorable for me is that I got to fall in love on stage every night. In life society has come up with steps that they believe we are supposed to follow in a relationship/when falling in love, but with this I got to break the norm and truly follow the heart of Maria. I remember genuinely laughing every night from all the fun we would have.

Destinee Rea
In 2018, I got to play the beloved Sarah from the show Ragtime at the Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival. Sarah and Coalhouse's love climaxes as they sit in front of their new Model-T holding a baby boy—the beneficiary to their legacy of love and pursuit of freedom. I discovered that this moment was more than the passion of locking eyes and desiring one another physically, it was the representation of Black love. A love that believes it has the power to rehumanize and bring value to the Black body that once was not deemed worthy of love, pleasure, and value through romance. A love that believes it can conquer and reverse the traumas placed on the Black body through its covenant pursuit of one’s heart; and through this pursuit a wholeness can be accomplished that not only changes the way one individual breathes in air, but inspires entire communities of people to believe they can ride on the "Wheels of a Dream." Fun fact: My Coalhouse Walker Jr. was played by Nkrumah Gatling (Miss Saigon, Hair), who I met in high school at Broadway Theatre Project. I saw him sing one time and declared I would go to college wherever he went. Many years later, two alum from Sam Houston State University were playing love interests on stage. Fun fun fact: The actress who played Mother, Brandi Burkhardt, also happened to be at Broadway Theatre Project that year workshopping Frank Wildhorn’s Wonderland. Nkrumah was the Cheshire Cat.

Daniel Reichard
My first professional leading role back in 2001 was Charlie Dalrymple in the Goodspeed Opera House’s stunning production of Brigadoon. In actuality, the role involves very little speaking, but it is a memorable one because Charlie has two of the best songs in the musical’s iconic score—“I’ll Go Home with Bonnie Jean” and “Come to Me, Bend to Me.” Charlie’s entire purpose in the show is to convey unabashed, rapturous, joyous romanticism. For two-and-a-half hours, eight shows a week, I would be madly in love with Nili Bassman’s Jean and sing my heart out. What a joy it was.

Jelani Remy
Happy Valentine's Day! I have gotten to have a few lovey-dovey moments on stage: from singing "Just My Imagination" in Ain't Too Proud to "Can You Feel the Love Tonight" in The Lion King. This is hard, but I have to say the most romantic role I played on stage was performing "Spanish Harlem" with Dionne D. Figgins in Smokey Joe's Cafe. I chose this because in Smokey we played ourselves. We were Jelani and Dionne. We created a bond and a chemistry while singing and dancing a passionate love tango from Josh Bergasse. We told a story that we created with a connection that grew like the rose I was singing about.

Chita Rivera and Dick Van Dyke in Bye Bye Birdie.
Chita Rivera and Dick Van Dyke in Bye Bye Birdie. Friedman-Abeles / The New York Public Library

Chita Rivera
The most romantic role I have ever played was Rosie in Bye Bye Birdie. It played on Broadway at the Martin Beck Theatre in 1960. It was exciting because I played a sexy, sultry, no-nonsense woman who wanted to marry her longtime boyfriend. With a fun-loving book by Michael Stewart, I sang a brilliant score written by Charles Strouse and Lee Adams and was directed and choreographed by the romantic Hollywood genius Gower Champion. And, to top it all, who couldn’t fall in love with Dick Van Dyke? It is a joyous musical full of life. Oh... And, by the way, she gets her man in the end.

Jon Rua
I would say Alexander Hamilton on Broadway. Having three romantic love interests certainly makes it the most romantic role. Not enough words can describe what made the overall experience so memorable. In short, it was thrilling.

Daphne Rubin-Vega
Of course, Mimi Marquez! Obvious and not-so-obvious reasons... I was in love with my character, my squad, and all of life. That was 100%-gratitude-fueled love. However, Conchita....!, my character in Anna in the Tropics (Nilo Cruz, Pulitzer Prize-winning, all-Latino play, 2003–2004, directed by Emily Mann at the Royale Theatre). Conchita was soo romantically involved with the lector, it brought out an unapologetic sexuality in her that was super innocent and, therefore, way more romantically charged.

Miss_Saigon_Broadway_1991_HR
Lea Salonga Michael Le Poer Trench/Joan Marcus

Lea Salonga
I think Kim still takes the prize for the most romantic role I’ve ever played. The music written for this character as well as her story arc facilitates the romance and makes the audience keep rooting for her until the very end. I played the role over a period of 10 years, from 1989–90 in the West End, 1991–92 and 1999 on Broadway, and in Manila in 2000. It was memorable primarily because it was my first real romantic leading lady role, and I got to play opposite one of the most caring, attentive, and respectful leading men I’ve ever worked with: Simon Bowman. Because I was so young, naive, and sheltered, he went the extra mile in making sure I wouldn’t be traumatized by any of what we had to do onstage. I felt so taken care of and will always appreciate him for it.

James Snyder
The most romantic role I've played was Josh in If/Then on Broadway. One of my favorite memories was my first table read, when it was just Idina [Menzel] and I going through the script with the director Michael Greif. I didn't know what to expect. Here I was with someone I had admired so much and for so long, and she welcomed me in without hesitation; it was not hard to fall in love with Idina/Liz/Beth. In fact, the whole cast was one big loving family. Snack time @If/then4eva!

Austin Scott and Kimber Elaybe Sprawl in <i>Girl From The North Country</i>
Austin Scott and Kimber Elaybe Sprawl in Girl From The North Country Matthew Murphy

Kimber Elayne Sprawl
The most romantic role for me is the one I will resume in Girl From the North Country. It's the most romantic because it's the realest. Real romance, which I have come to know personally, is seeing someone in a light that no one else can see and embracing every bit of them. It is about trust and sacrifice. I think this is what Marianne and Joe grow to have.

Astrid Van Wieren
I don’t often play romantic roles. I played Baal in Baal a rock-n-roll play by Rose Cullis almost 20 years ago—lover of many—an epic, iconic rock star/god with a lot of swagger and game brought down by her love of one girl, Sophie: so damaged and so open. Baal writes a song in anger to hurt her. But ultimately, writes a song about her mad love for her. The core creative team is revisiting this character in a sort of sequel. It’s been exciting during this pandemic to channel creative energies into a fresh story. A casual Zoom reading of an early draft held the bud of promise. And After/Baal marks a return for me to writing songs. What could be a more romantic gesture than writing your lover a song? Even one that might be a little dark and twisted? Also, I’ve had the great pleasure to play both Vicki and Georgie in two wonderful productions of The Full Monty—which I think is one of the most beautiful musicals ever written! Two different kinds of romance: Vicki, who is worshiped by Harold, has that kick-ass song, “Life With Harold.” Harold expresses his love in lavishing her with things. But Vicki truly loves Harold, not what he’s able to buy her! Their romance is a great lesson during this pandemic to treat your partner with attention, affection, and time—more than anything that’s what one remembers, not a hallway full of Amazon packages! And, sweet Georgie—I knew my acting partner Alan (Dave), was a huge World Wrestling fan. So for our bedroom scene, I asked if I could wear a big WWE T-shirt. In the Sudbury Goodwill thrift store, I found an awesome T-shirt emblazoned with The Rock. We had a really short rehearsal period, so it was a fun way to establish an inside joke/story and create some immediate shared history. He loved it! So for Valentine’s Day, give time not stuff, remember the things they love, and when in doubt just write them a song. #relationshipgoals

Max von Essen and Christy Altomare
Max von Essen and Christy Altomare Matthew Murphy

Max von Essen
As I sat and thought about a lot of the roles I’ve played, I realized I haven’t played too many typical romantics. Yet my mind keeps returning to Gleb in Anastasia, which I played on Broadway in 2017–2018. Here he is, this conflicted man, sworn to duty, law and order, desperately trying to be the man his father would have expected. He encounters Anya, claiming to be the Grand Duchess Anastasia, and from their first meeting he’s torn, starts to fall for her, envious of her strength and boldness in trying to fill in the story of her life. Once she escapes St. Petersburg, he’s tasked with hunting her down and killing her if need be. He travels across a continent, has her in her grasp and then suddenly gives up. He just can’t do it. He can’t take her, can’t keep her from her life and the man she’s fallen in love with. He returns home, says there never was an Anastasia and that the case is closed. He risks his own life and career to allow her her own love and freedom. Man, what’s more romantic than that?

John Lloyd Young
My most romantic role ever was Anthony in Sweeney Todd. “Johanna”—what a song, what a scene! It’s like Romeo under the balcony. But I learned something very important playing an idealistic young romantic ingenue—I would rather have played the killer! Life lessons.

READ: Grateful: 37 Broadway Actors Share Who They Were Thankful for in 2020

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