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The top 20 musical characters of all time – as voted for by you

Audiences have spoken!

Some of the winning musical characters
© Dan Wooller for WhatsOnStage

We recently asked you to name your favourite stage characters – and the results are in!

We split the list into two groups – the top ten musical characters and the best dramatic characters from plays. Earlier today we unveiled the top ten play characters, and now it's time for musicals.

Who has proved the most "Popular"? Who was sitting "Pretty" in the top ten? Who was waving from the 11th spot? Check below.


20 – 11

20. Mary Poppins – Mary Poppins
19. Juliet – & Juliet
18. Mama Rose – Gypsy
17. Effie White – Dreamgirls
16. Elle Woods – Legally Blonde
15. Eliza Schuyler-Hamilton – Hamilton
14. Lola – Kinky Boots
13. Donna Sheridan – Mamma Mia!
12. Edna – Hairspray
11. Evan Hansen – Dear Evan Hansen


The top ten

10. Bobby / Bobbie – Company

No matter if it's the man Bobby or woman Bobbie (the latter brought to life brilliantly in Marianne Elliott's recent revival), Furth and Sondheim's figure has struck a major chord with voters. The 35 year-old bachelor has a belter of an eleven o'clock number in the form of "Being Alive".


Rosalie Craig (Bobbie) during the curtain call for Company
© All images are copyright Dan Wooller, 2018


9. Maria – West Side Story

Sitting "pretty' in at number nine is Maria, the leading lady from West Side Story (and yes, we did have to check that people weren't voting for The Sound of Music!). With a new musical film on its way, we expect Maria's popularity to only surge over the coming months.


8. Jenna – Waitress

Waitress has been a runaway musical hit since Sara Bareilles first brought it to the stage, and has amassed fans across the world. Jenna, a waitress in a diner dreaming of bigger things, is a relatable, funny and stoic figure that can chime with any audience member.


7. Jamie – Everybody's Talking About Jamie

He's got the moves to make you smile and he's safely in at number seven! An ongoing West End hit and soon-to-be film star, Jamie New has won the hearts and minds of audiences across the UK.


6. Alexander Hamilton – Hamilton

Seeing the next two figures jostling for sixth and fifth feels oddly apt, considering they both do the same thing in hit musical Hamilton (as well as real-life!). For Burr to pip the ill-fated founding father to fifth place is an interesting reveal though, especially when Alexander has more stage time – though does do some morally reprehensible things, including cheating on his wife, revealing his affair publicly in a document, and then encouraging his son to go and duel.


Obioma Ugoala (George Washington), Rachelle Ann Go (Eliza Hamilton) and Jamael Westman (Alexander Hamilton) during the curtain call for Hamilton
© Dan Wooller for WhatsOnStage


5. Aaron Burr – Hamilton

Burr is no saint either, as Hamilton himself can attest. But the character (originated by Leslie Odom Jr on Broadway and in the West End by Giles Terera), who guides us through much of the plot of Hamilton, is a loveable man just trying to do what's best in a turbulent, unpredictable world, and pays the price for his opportunism.


4. Norma Desmond – Sunset Boulevard

The first of two Andrew Lloyd Webber characters on this list is Norma Desmond, haunted by history as her life on the silver screen slowly slips away. With tunes like "As If We Never Said Goodbye", it's great to see Desmond resonate with audiences.


3. Jean Valjean – Les Misérables

This top three is fairly predictable, but coming in with a bronze medal is Jean Valjean from the stage stalwart Les Misérables. He steals hearts as well as loaves of bread on a nightly basis and, while one of the most challenging sings for a performer, reflects the true redemptive nature of even the most put-upon man.

Jon Robyns (Jean Valjean) during the curtain call for Les Misérables
© All images are copyright Dan Wooller, 2020


2. The Phantom – The Phantom of the Opera

We can all empathise with mask-wearing a bit more these days, but even without Covid we expected The Phantom to sit near the top of this list. The enigmatic figure from the long-running show doesn't make the top spot however...



1. Elphaba – Wicked

She has defied gravity and 19 other characters on this list to clinch the top spot! Elphaba is one of the most iconic figures on the stage and continues to draw massive audiences to both the West End and Broadway. It's no surprise to see her top this list.


London Miriam Margolyes (Madame Morrible), Nigel Planer (The Wonderful Wizard of Oz), Helen Dallimore (Glinda), Idina Menzel (Elphaba) and Adam Garcia (Fiyero) at the curtain call of Wicked, held at the Apolloa Victoria Theatre, London, England on 27th September 2006
© All images are copyright Dan Wooller, 2006


See the top 20 characters from plays

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