Comscore

Unnecessary Characters

Gothampc
Broadway Legend
joined:5/20/03
Unnecessary Characters
Posted: 7/9/13 at 10:17pm
I'd like to discuss unnecessary characters in shows and why you think they are there.

For example, Doatsey Mae in Best Little Wh*rehouse in Texas. Did she have a bigger storyline that was cut along the way? Is there a point to her character?
If anyone ever tells you that you put too much Parmesan cheese on your pasta, stop talking to them. You don't need that kind of negativity in your life.
PTOPhan Profile Photo
PTOPhan
Featured Actor
joined:6/5/12
Unnecessary Characters
Posted: 7/9/13 at 10:36pm
Why this is the first one that popped into my head, I have no idea, but Max from the movie version of "The Sound of Music" seems to do nothing but give Captain von Trapp a chance to make an anti-Nazi speech. Max just hangs around, eating, drinking, and sounding cynical. I never saw the stage version of the show, but I think he has a bit more to do there.

You alone can make my song take flight.
GlindatheGood22  Profile Photo
GlindatheGood22
Broadway Legend
joined:7/17/07
Unnecessary Characters
Posted: 7/9/13 at 10:40pm
My best friend just played the homeless woman in A New Brain and kept complaining that her character was pointless. Not sure how true that is.

I leave the room smiling.
justoldbill Profile Photo
justoldbill
Broadway Star
joined:10/17/07
Unnecessary Characters
Posted: 7/9/13 at 10:45pm
Many times, peripheral characters are there as understudies or covers for principal characters. For instance, during the run of A LITTLE NIGHT MUSIC, the Greek actress Despo was cast in the small role of Malla. A significant name for a small role, but her JOB was covering Hermione Gingold.
As for the character of Max in THE SOUND OF MUSIC, he's the one who creates "The Trapp Family Singers", and assists in the family's escape. Not insignificant.


Well-well-well-what-do-you-think-of-that-I-have-nothing-here-to-pay-my-train-fare-with-only-large-bills-fives-and-sevens....
Updated On: 7/9/13 at 10:45 PM
darquegk Profile Photo
darquegk
Broadway Legend
joined:2/5/09
Unnecessary Characters
Posted: 7/9/13 at 10:45pm
Max in the stage version seems to be a characterization of "the good German" who didn't necessarily agree with the Nazis, or participate in their atrocities, but sort of went along with it for self preservation.

The insinuations many portrayals have included that Max is a "confirmed bachelor," i.e. homosexual, adds a level of self-preservation to such a character.
Kbradstein
Stand-by
joined:7/6/12
Unnecessary Characters
Posted: 7/9/13 at 10:58pm
There's a few in TOMMY, Hawker, the gypsy(acid queen) and Sally Simpson.

More recently I would say nikola on kinky boots
Wynbish Profile Photo
Wynbish
Broadway Legend
joined:4/27/12
Unnecessary Characters
Posted: 7/9/13 at 11:02pm
She's necessary to me, because I love her, but Meg in Brigadoon is practically unnecessary.
justoldbill Profile Photo
justoldbill
Broadway Star
joined:10/17/07
Unnecessary Characters
Posted: 7/9/13 at 11:08pm
BRIGADOON without Meg is OKLAHOMA! without Ado Annie or CAROUSEL without Carrie Pipperidge. Even Sondheim doesn't write shows so relentlessly humorless.

Well-well-well-what-do-you-think-of-that-I-have-nothing-here-to-pay-my-train-fare-with-only-large-bills-fives-and-sevens....
Updated On: 7/9/13 at 11:08 PM
Wynbish Profile Photo
Wynbish
Broadway Legend
joined:4/27/12
Unnecessary Characters
Posted: 7/9/13 at 11:13pm
Ado Annie and Carrie have more of a storyline than Meg. And then, there's the girl (Maggie?) who loved Harry Beaton and did the funeral dance. Meg brings a lot of humor and fun to Brigadoon, which is why I love her, but she doesn't have a story or really add to the existing story, apart from a roll in the hay
GavestonPS Profile Photo
GavestonPS
Broadway Legend
joined:6/10/12
Unnecessary Characters
Posted: 7/9/13 at 11:15pm
I think Wynbish's point is that Meg is unnecessary in the Aristotelian sense: she contributes nothing to the action or plot. And I think he's right in that sense, even though all of us would miss Meg as comic relief.

Ado Annie/Will and Carrie/Mr. Snow have fully developed subplots that mirror and also contrast with the main plots of their shows. The former are the comic Curly/Laurie and the latter are the "respectable" couple to be contrasted with Julie's love of the "bad boy".

That Meg and Jeff never achieve the same status is just one of the faults I find in the BRIGADOON book (despite the glorious score).

(ETA Wynbish obviously didn't need my help to explain his answer. But I'm leaving my post because I approach it from a slightly different direction.)

Updated On: 7/9/13 at 11:15 PM
justoldbill Profile Photo
justoldbill
Broadway Star
joined:10/17/07
Unnecessary Characters
Posted: 7/9/13 at 11:17pm
Without the comedy of Meg to off-set Jeff's cynicism, the show would trod slowly through the mud.
Well-well-well-what-do-you-think-of-that-I-have-nothing-here-to-pay-my-train-fare-with-only-large-bills-fives-and-sevens....
Gorlois Profile Photo
Gorlois
Stand-by
joined:5/18/13
Unnecessary Characters
Posted: 7/9/13 at 11:19pm
I played Rev Dr Harper in "Arsenic & Old Lace" a few years ago, and once when the director was discussing possible cuts with our cast, several moreorless suggested the complete elimination of my character. That didn't happen, but I'm not sure it would have hurt the play at all if it had.
Wynbish Profile Photo
Wynbish
Broadway Legend
joined:4/27/12
Unnecessary Characters
Posted: 7/9/13 at 11:21pm
Which is a big problem with the Brigadoon, period. It has so many stories in it, and not a one of them is enticing enough to go without comedy or light enough to have its own. It's so busy that a great, needed character gets practically nothing but two gold songs between bagpipe dirges and cloyingly sweet tunes.

Updated On: 7/9/13 at 11:21 PM
GavestonPS Profile Photo
GavestonPS
Broadway Legend
joined:6/10/12
Unnecessary Characters
Posted: 7/9/13 at 11:23pm
Without the comedy of Meg to off-set Jeff's cynicism, the show would trod slowly through the mud.

I think Jeff's cynicism is intended to be funny as well.

You're right, but a more able librettist would have made Meg both funny AND an agent in the main plot or a credible subplot (see Hammerstein). (This isn't to damn Lerner in perpetuity. BRIGADOON was an early work.)

----

@Wynbish: so busy and yet so inactive. But as I said, I never get tired of the score.
Updated On: 7/9/13 at 11:23 PM
Wynbish Profile Photo
Wynbish
Broadway Legend
joined:4/27/12
Unnecessary Characters
Posted: 7/9/13 at 11:32pm
Me neither. The cloyingly sweet Come to Me, Bend to Me is possibly my favorite melody in all of musical theatre, apart from Porter's "It's All Right with Me"
Broadway Legend
joined:12/31/69
Unnecessary Characters
Posted: 7/10/13 at 04:46pm
Joe from Show Boat. He has a classic song, but he does little else after scene one.
Jayar2 Profile Photo
Jayar2
Chorus Member
joined:4/18/13
Unnecessary Characters
Posted: 7/10/13 at 04:54pm
Uncle Winston in A Catered Affair. UGH!
artscallion Profile Photo
artscallion
Broadway Legend
joined:5/15/07
Unnecessary Characters
Posted: 7/10/13 at 04:56pm
Peron's Mistress in Evita. There have been entire threads on whether or not this particular character is necessary. I've heard all the arguments but just don't see it. Let the character exist, if you have to, but to give her a song is just not warranted.
Art has a double face, of expression and illusion.
bwayphreak234 Profile Photo
bwayphreak234
Broadway Legend
joined:7/4/10
Unnecessary Characters
Posted: 7/10/13 at 05:09pm
Chip in Beauty and the Beast.
"There’s nothing quite like the power and the passion of Broadway music. "
Miss Piggy2 Profile Photo
Miss Piggy2
Swing
joined:3/14/13
Unnecessary Characters
Posted: 7/10/13 at 05:10pm
The Fodors (or the Frommers) in Crazy for You...
I actually did a production where they were cut completely...
SporkGoddess Profile Photo
SporkGoddess
Broadway Legend
joined:7/27/05
Unnecessary Characters
Posted: 7/10/13 at 05:26pm
Uncle Winston in A Catered Affair. UGH!

That was the first one that I thought of!


Jimmy, what are you doing here in the middle of the night? It's almost 9 PM!
Updated On: 7/10/13 at 05:26 PM
TheGingerBreadMan Profile Photo
TheGingerBreadMan
Broadway Star
joined:12/7/12
Unnecessary Characters
Posted: 7/10/13 at 05:35pm
The nanny goat thing in WICKED. She has one line in the opening number and then she's done. I understand that it is an ensemble track played by someone who does multiple other roles, but honestly, those masks are expensive and it's just a waste. Having the Witch's father as the only one there during the birth would be just fine.
Matt Rogers Profile Photo
Matt Rogers
Broadway Star
joined:10/4/04
Unnecessary Characters
Posted: 7/10/13 at 05:39pm
Every single character in Title of Show is unnecessary.
GavestonPS Profile Photo
GavestonPS
Broadway Legend
joined:6/10/12
Unnecessary Characters
Posted: 7/10/13 at 06:09pm
Joe from Show Boat. He has a classic song, but he does little else after scene one.

You are absolutely correct in terms of the plot. And yet I've never seen a production of SHOW BOAT that didn't lumber like an overloaded cargo plane unable to get off the runway. Until. Joe. sings. THAT SONG!

And then the show takes off and soars.

It's an example that defies all the "rules" of what is "necessary". (Great example, nonetheless.)
OperaBwayLover Profile Photo
OperaBwayLover
Broadway Star
joined:5/17/07
Unnecessary Characters
Posted: 7/10/13 at 06:14pm
When I saw Flashdance in February, I couldn't understand the purpose for having a secondary couple (whose names escape me). They contributed nothing to the overall story and weren't funny, though it was clear they were supposed to be the comic relief.
GavestonPS Profile Photo
GavestonPS
Broadway Legend
joined:6/10/12
Unnecessary Characters
Posted: 7/10/13 at 06:15pm
Is Bonnie necessary in APPLAUSE, except to give the lead's voice a rest between "Who's that Girl?" and "Hurry Back"?

I'm not even sure Duane moves the plot. I think he's just there so the show will seem hip and modern (for its day).

1
Page:

 
Advertisement Advertisement Advertisement Advertisement