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8 Romantic Comedies That Would Make Great Broadway Musicals

Category Broadway

|by Mark Robinson |

From ‘When Harry Met Sally’ to ’10 Things I Hate About You’

Romantic comedy seems to be the order of the 2018-2019 theatrical season. New musicals like Pretty Woman and Clueless will play alongside favorites like Waitress and classic revivals like Kiss Me, Kate! – all celebrating that crazy, laugh-inducing prospect of love. Both of the aforementioned shows started out as hit films, so we at thought it would be fun to make a list of other film romantic comedies that we would like to see find their way to the Broadway stage. Here are a few that we thought might be augmented by the addition of song in bringing their stories to life.

Andy Karl and Samantha Barks in ‘Pretty Woman’ on Broadway (Photo: Matthew Murphy)

Andy Karl and Samantha Barks in ‘Pretty Woman’ on Broadway (Photo: Matthew Murphy)

When Harry Met Sally

The compelling friendship that blossoms into romance between two diametrically opposed forces would be an ideal choice for musical adaptation. The 1989 romantic comedy film When Harry Met Sally is the perfect recipe for laughs and amour, with the two title characters, at odds from the moment they meet and share a cross-country road trip, through their twelve-years of ups, downs and incessant arguing, to finally admitting their love for each other. The Billy Crystal and Meg Ryan film has become a staple of the rom-com genre, and could work as an intimate, character-driven musical.

In & Out

Not every journey of romance ends where we think it will. Howard is a high school English teacher living in small town America. It is just days away from his wedding to his insecure co-worker Emily, who has transformed herself physically for the event, but remains emotionally fragile. When one of their former students wins the Academy Award for playing a gay character in a hit film, he thanks Howard for being his inspiration for the role, essentially outing Howard to the entire world. The trouble is, Howard isn’t gay…or is he? The 1997 film In & Out is all about how we come to terms with who we are and who we love.

Love Actually

Christmas may have come and gone, but there is always next year (or, indeed, any year) to make a musical out of the British romantic comedy Love Actually. Set in London at Christmas time, the film follows ten different stories, each exploring a different theme of love. As the story progresses, we soon find out that these stories are interconnected, and that many of the characters from these seemingly separate tales know one another. Love Actually brings together two of our favorite things: the holidays and romance.

10 Things I Hate About You

A musical version of William Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew was adapted into a clever Broadway show in 1948 in the form of Kiss Me, Kate! That classic is about to get a revival this spring at the Roundabout Theatre Company. However, The Taming of the Shrew has been the inspiration for myriad plays and films, and one of them sets the action in a high school where an eccentric cool kid is hired to “tame” an independent and tempestuous young woman so that her sister will be allowed to go to the prom. The 1999 rom-com 10 Things I Hate About You moves Shakespeare’s challenging comedy into a contemporary setting with a modern sensibility, where perhaps the taming goes both ways.

Four Weddings and a Funeral

This title alone promises intriguing possibilities in regards to set design, costumes, score and – of course – romance. Four Weddings and a Funeral, a Best Picture nominee when it was released in 1994, tells the story of Charles (Hugh Grant) and Carrie (Andie MacDowell) who meet when their circle of friends come together for a wedding. Over three more weddings (and, obviously, a funeral) the two eventually fall in love. In true rom-com form, there are complications along the way that keep the two from immediately coming together, including other dalliances that do not work out. In the end, the two do NOT get married, but agree to a relationship of lifelong commitment without tying the knot.

Mambo Italiano

The 2003 Canadian film comedy Mambo Italiano concerns the son of Italian immigrants who had hoped to come to the United States, but accidentally ended up in Canada. The young Angelo surprises his family when he moves out of the house to get married, ultimately revealing to his traditional family that he is gay. Nino, his best friend from childhood and also his boyfriend, is a policeman and not as eager to come out of the closet. Mambo Italiano is a hilarious comedy of errors combined with a touching message about embracing love with both arms and all of your heart.

The Lady Eve

A romantic comedy that has surprisingly never been adapted for the musical stage is the Preston Sturges 1941 film classic The Lady Eve. Set on board an ocean liner, an unlikely romance buds between the con artist Jean Harrington (Barbara Stanwyck) and the naïve wealthy introvert Charles Pike (Henry Fonda). Sure, things go sour for a while when Charles learns of the scheme to fleece him for his money after he marries Jean, but it is too late. Both of them have fallen in love with each other and inevitably find a way back into each other’s arms.

Say Anything

No list of rom-com’s in consideration for the musical stage would be worth its salt without the inclusion of the 1989 film Say Anything. Upon graduating from high school, the optimistic but underachieving Lloyd Dobler (John Cusack) and class valedictorian and class beauty Diane (Ione Skye) embark on an unlikely romance. Though they spend an unforgettable summer together, the couple are from different worlds, and Diane’s father does everything he can to separate them. Say Anything is a romantic comedy with dramatic overtones that suggests that opposites can attract and that we often find love in the most surprising and unexpected places, if we are willing to put in the work.

Mark Robinson is the author of the two-volume encyclopedia The World of Musicals, The Disney Song Encyclopedia, and The Encyclopedia of Television Theme Songs. He maintains a theater and entertainment blog at

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