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Actually, 'Miss Saigon' not so romantic after all

After reconsidering, 'Camelot,' 'Piazza' seem better picks

The Friday before Valentine's Day, the Deseret News features staff came up with lists of our personal "most romantic things" — books, music, movies, plays, etc. That night, while attending "Twelve Angry Men" at Pioneer Theatre Company, I bumped into managing director Chris Lino, who ribbed me about not being able to pick just one, and for my choice of "Miss Saigon."

"See, I don't think that's romantic at all," he said. And I paused and said, "You know, you're right."

Embarrassed, I admitted I'd felt the pressure of a deadline … hence the hasty choices. Lino joked, "I'll expect a retraction."

So, here it is. I've pondered the grand question all week long. What ARE the most romantic musicals? And what qualifies?

What do you find romantic?

Unrequited love, like "The Phantom of the Opera"? Someone-has-to-die love, like "West Side Story," "Aida" or "Rent"?

What about the bursting from within love, like "Singin' in the Rain" or "Thoroughly Modern Millie"?

There is the look-at-all-we've-gone-through love/ I-can-see-beyond-your-faults love like "The Fantastiks" or "Guys and Dolls."

Overcoming-prejudice love, like "South Pacific" or "Hairspray"?

And then the everything-is-fine-until-the-Nazis-show-up love, like "The Sound of Music" or "Cabaret."

But, after carefully analyzing the weightiness of my task, I've come up with what I think are arguably two of the most romantic musicals:

"Camelot," by Lerner and Loewe. This musical is all about love and fills many of the above requirements (except for the Nazis). It's tender, it's heartbreaking, it's passionate. And though it tends to run on the very long side of an evening, few moments are as heart-stopping as the songs "If Ever I Would Leave You" and "I Loved You Once in Silence." Or the moment Arthur must make the most difficult decision of his life about the woman he loves.

"The Light in the Piazza," a newer work which opened on Broadway in 2005. A love story at its most pure and simple … innocent and sweet, filled with joy, romance and optimism — it's pure love. And the score is as sweeping and lush as the emotion itself.

So, Mr. Lino, I've decided there really isn't ONE most romantic musical … because there are too many different types of romance. But, now that I've given the subject due thought, next time I see you we can at least have a playful debate on the topic.

(P.S.: One last note for reader Richard — I'm not convinced that "The Music Man," my personal favorite, is the most romantic because I'm not convinced that Harold sticks around.)

e-mail: ehansen@desnews.com