The British theatre industry is a fundamental aspect of this country’s culture. Dating back to the 10th century, theatre productions have maintained their popularity with budding audiences; in fact, in just a single year, approximately 15 million people visited at least one of London’s theatres. The popularity of musicals can be attributed to their extravagant characters, whimsical music, gripping storylines and magnificent theatrical costumes. In this article, we will explore what makes our top six most iconic theatre characters so memorable.
Joseph – Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat
Based on the Bible’s book of Genesis, the story follows Joseph, a generous young man dressed in a multi-coloured Dreamcoat. A gift from his father, the Dreamcoat, causes jealousy among Joseph’s 12 brothers, who sell him into slavery as revenge. The production features a combination of musical theatre classics and iconic pop songs to deliver a performance that the entire family can enjoy.
Elphaba – Wicked
Elphaba Thropp – also known as the Wicked Witch of the West – plays the protagonist in the popular theatre production Wicked. However, Elphaba wasn’t always a beloved character; we first saw her play the antagonist in the 1990 children’s novel The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. In contrast, Wicked helps us understand that Elphaba is tragically misunderstood. In fact, her choice of striking black outfits and pointy hats ostracises her from her peers. Despite this, she continues to fight for her beliefs making her one of our favourite musical theatre characters.
Nala – The Lion King
The fiercely loyal lioness Nala is beautifully connected to protagonist Simba during the entire production of The Lion King. During the performance, we have the pleasure of following Nala’s character evolution, in which she grows into a strong and intelligent role model for young girls around the world. Her assertive personality is only exasperated by her marvellous theatre costume. The striking headpiece, colourful body paint and extravagant robes are hard to forget!
Tracey Turnblad – Hairspray
In 1960s Baltimore, quirky teen Tracy Turnblad dreams of dancing on television. After making new friends, Tracey transforms her life and uses her newfound confidence to advocate for racial integration in the media. Hairspray’s beautiful message of acceptance is accompanied by great humour and marvellous costumes that fit the 1960s setting. Tracey herself showcases various outfits throughout the performance, the most iconic being a bright blue sparkling dress paired with a matching headband and yellow belt.
The Phantom – The Phantom of the Opera
I’m sure it comes as little surprise that the Phantom is one of our favourite musical theatre characters of all time. The production tells the tale of a disfigured musical genius who torments the Paris Opera House. Later, he becomes mesmerised by the beauty of a budding soprano, luring her in as his protégé. The production is so popular that the enigmatic figure wearing elaborate black clothing and an uncanny half-mask has appeared approximately 13,900 times since the show began in the 1980s.
Lola – Kinky Boots
Kinky Boots tells the tale of Charlie Price, a young English man who inherits a struggling family-owned shoe business. In his attempt to save his late father’s company, he discovers Lola, a flamboyant drag queen. During the performance, the audience is entertained with singing, dancing and comedy. All of which portrays the intricate development of Lola and Charlie’s friendship. The costumes also help to represent character personalities, with Lola’s most iconic outfit being an eye-catching red dress paired with some outrageous thigh-high boots.