While cleaning out and backing up my hard drive today, I came across the following little list of stock characters from musicals:
- Three happy-go-lucky sailors on shore leave. Or three soldiers on a three-day pass. Anyway there’s always three of them.
- The wisecracking belter who doesn’t have much to do with the plot, and doesn’t interact much with the other characters, but gets lots to sing, including a big mock-gospel number in act 2.
- The fast-talking playboy hero (who settles down with the strong-willed heroine who “tames” him).
- The sad-faced little middle-aged guy who gets pushed around by everybody and talked into wacky schemes by said
hero. Think William Gaxton and Victor Moore.
- The heroine’s middle-aged chaperone, who has a comic romance with the hero’s middle-aged friend.
- The heroine’s two (usually two) wisecracking friends, both slightly more worldly-wise than she is.
Google helped me to find out that I probably originally read that on a group called rec.arts.theatre.musicals, that it was written by somone named Jaime J. Weinman, and helped me to find a number of other suggestions from a host of folks who contributed to that group back in the day (2002):
- The big-voiced black woman with an excess of attitude. (Mimi Paragon)
- The ingenue to who becomes a soubrette. (Mimi Paragon)
- The cad with a heart of gold. (Mimi Paragon)
- The skirt who is doing him dirt. (Kaffitimi)
- The king of an underworld ring. (KAR)
- The fragile old lady who belts out a life-affirming ditty. (Parterrebox)
- The Latina spitfire. (Parterrebox)
- The tempestuous foreign-accented diva. (Parterrebox)
- The fireplug ensemble dancer who does a gymnastic solo break. (Parterrebox)
- The baritone lady growler second lead. (Parterrebox)
- Every variation of foreigners cliché: the authoritarian German, the lustful Frenchman, the snotty English, the drunk Irish, etc. (Gérard Morvan)
- The wisecracking second banana. (Bushwacker)
- The tart with a heart. (David Thompson)
- Juvenile lead who takes over a tough city with some small town innocent clarity. And who dances rings around highly-trained Broadway pros. (Jason Travis and Steve Newport)
An interesting list, no? Of course, it’s more applicable to a certain kinds of musical theatre than others and some are anomalies rather than true stock characters, but it was a paritularly interesting list to read not that musical theatre has become much more meta-theatrical than it was ten years ago.
Anyone have any others to add?