As long as there has been musical theatre, there have been heroes and heroines. They have become the basis of the art form and it has caused for some of the best characters to be introduced into this crazy business we call show. Musical theatre has always been a great way for inspiring roles and character traits into its audience. By being exposed to the wonderful heroes and heroines of the stage over and over again, we as an audience have something to aspire to be. There are so many things we can learn from their stories, whether this is to value inner beauty over appearance or that good can triumph over evil. Going even further, the heroes and heroines of the stage attempt to challenge the stereotype of what it means to be heroic, breaking away from the norm and becoming more relatable. We hope you enjoy our top heroes and heroines of musical theatre!
Elle Woods – Legally Blonde
What’s not to love about this heroine, she proves that if you put your mind to something it can be achieved, even if it goes a different route than what you originally planned. Many ladies can relate to Elle, and her fight to win back someone’s love but mainly she shows ‘That being true to yourself, never goes out of style…’ and fights to prove that even blondes can achieve great things. Played by iconic actresses such as Sheridan Smith, Carly Stenson, and Broadways Laura Bell Bundy, she has to be everyone’s favourite blonde on the musical stage.
Aladdin – Aladdin
It couldn’t be a post about heroes without having some form of Disney in there. Aladdin, currently at the amazing Prince Edward Theatre, has a great heroic story. As a musical, it incorporates amazing music, great stage magic, fun and an extraordinary plot to send a message that being yourself can be heroic. The fact that Aladdin and Jasmine’s love blooms after she realises that he isn’t truly a prince, sends this strong powerful message that you should always be yourself. It is a memorable story and truly enchanting. He is a brave young man who must go through many obstacles in order to save Jasmine and his friends.
Fanny Brice – Funny Girl
Recently performed at the Savoy Theatre, the West End was introduced to Fanny Brice. Performed originally on Broadway by the amazing Barbara Streisand, it was Sheridan Smith and Natasha Barnes who showed her to London. She is by far The Greatest Star but is also a devoted wife, and mother who stands by her man through his gambling years. Strong, witty, a personality you can remember. Another character point with Fanny is her focus on her looks. Now I don’t mean that she was vain, quite the opposite actually as Fanny didn’t think she was a looker, which she comments on throughout ‘The groom was prettier than the bride…’ It’s amazing to see in this day and age, Fanny teaches us that looks aren’t everything and again you just have to believe in yourself to get what you want – even your name in lights.
Billy – Billy Elliot the Musical.
Billy is a hero to many, and a hero for many reasons. Billy grows up in a mostly male, working class home in Northern England, but inspires to be a dancer, hoping to break away from what is expected of him due to his gender. Billy is a hero because through a troubled childhood, he manages to find dancing, which allows him to cope with the loss of his mother, escape from the terror of his father and survive through a time of turmoil. He is completely relentless throughout the entire show, determined to audition for the Royal Ballet School. Billy accepts his gay friend, prefers ballet to boxing, he wants to pursue a different career to mining, really going against what is expected of him as a young northern boy, making him truly heroic.
Kim – Miss Saigon
A girl who falls in love with an American soldier during the Vietnam War must remain strong when separated. She becomes a mother to his child, but finds she must do something devastating in an emotional finale. Kim is defiantly one of the most powerful and strong roles on the West End, who without a doubt goes through all emotions possible throughout Miss Saigon. Her devotion and dream of a better life, (I still, I still believe…) for her son drives her forward and even when she is betrayed she does what is right for him, even if that means she cannot be part of it. We have all been in the audience with tears in our eyes to Kim’s story, we see her become a women, be loyal to her husband, and never gives up hope. Played recently by Eva Maria Noblezada in the West End, she is following this show to the Broadway lights, and rightly so as her portrayal of Kim was and is amazing and we are lucky to be able to watch her over and over again on our TV screens with the live recording!
Arthur Kipps – Half a Sixpence
Arthur Kipps, an orphan who lives and works as an apprentice for the cruel draper Mr. Shalford, strives for greatness. After learning that he inherits a huge fortune, he is forced to join the ranks of the upper class, becoming engaged to the wealthy Helen Walsingham. Arthur teaches us that you can never loose sight of who you are. Helen tries to completely change the simple man he once was, hoping for her brother to take control of his money.
Despite this, Kipps meets his childhood sweetheart, Ann, and he yearns for a simpler life. Ann is at first made unhappy by this new sense of grandeur to the man she fell in love with, but through the loss of most of his money he is able to a live a simple and happy life. Kipps isn’t your conventional hero, in the sense that he doesn’t fight dragons or save the day but he is heroic in the sense that his rise in the world brings little change to his character. Although he tried valiantly to change that, he is able to learn that life can be fulfilled as long as you up hold your moral values, and he teaches us that the path to happiness is not the simple equation of wealth that he originally imagines.
Maria – Sound of Music
Maria begins as a flighty young girl, very likeable and sweet. She is called to adventure and her character is truly tested in the household of Captain von Trapp. Maria, despite being sceptical at first, faces the challenges rather than avoiding them, remaining kind hearted and reasonable when looking after the children. Even when she leaves, with the help of the Reverend Mother, she embraces her problems and strives to fix things. Whether they are small or big, she overcomes then. Even when the Nazis come to Austria, she remains courageous for the children, determined for everyone to be kept safe. Maria is based on a real life heroine, and we can learn so much from her history.
Lola – Kinky Boots
Now with this role it could be argued he is both a hero and a heroine, but one thing is for sure Lola has the strength of any man along with respect and love for himself. Many can look up to Lola (or Simon), as he rises above the bullies, stands up for himself, and be who he wants to be. Lola teaches others in the show, like Charlie, to be strong, and fight for what he believes in, helping him save his dads shoe factory. He helps Don to not to judge others on looks and that there can be equality between women and men. He is a role model for everyone, and one you can’t but would love to have as a friend to lean on, and rely on being there for you. Could also fight for you too! Played by award winning Matt Henry currently on the West End, Lola is a character we can’t forget about!
Matilda – Matilda the Musical
It is clear to see that anyone of any age can be a heroine, Matilda being one of Roald Dahl’s finest. Currently performing at the Cambridge Theatre, it has taken the West End by storm. Through the musical she remains independent, brave and resourceful, realising that she can take control of her own story, discovering that she can forge her own fate, deciding to challenge the authority of her parents and evil headmistress. Matilda teaches us that our biology is not our destiny. Even if your parents are awfully loud and do not understand you, you can always find refuge. For Matilda, books are one. But she finds amazing friendship in the likes of Miss Honey and Lavender, who steer our girl Matilda on.
Jean Valjean – Les Miserables
A wronged prisoner, who is struggling to find his feet following his parole, decides that he needs to gain a better life. He breaks said parole and goes on to succeed even though he is in hiding. Becoming Mayor, and an adopted father to Cosette, we respect him for wanting to right his wrongs throughout Les Mis. A misjudged man who just wants to do well for others, he gives Cosette the best life he could have following the death of her mother, and even brings Marius to her after fighting along his side in the revolutions. Not many fathers would do that, and for that be brings the audiences respect! He is a strong and you could say most well-known character on the West End stage played by iconic theatre stars such as Alfie Boe, Hugh Jackman (film), and Ramin Karimloo (Broadway).
These are just a fair few of our favourite heroes and heroines in musical theatre. With so many shows that have played and are playing on West End, it is hard to choose just a fair few of all the amazing roles that are lucky enough to share their stories to audiences. To some these may not have made your top 10 list, so please tell us if you agree, or who you would have in your top hero or heroine list?
Thanks for reading!
Charlie & Katie