Musical Theatre Stock Characters

How many stock characters from musicals appear in THE DROWSY CHAPERONE? Purchase the Original Broadway Cast Recording by clicking on the image above and find out!

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?

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