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Mother Knows Best! Rounding Up 10 of Broadway's Most Iconic Moms

"Send a dozen to your mother. Tomorrow's Mother's Day. You can never replace her with another. No mafter what they say!"

The archetypal mother is a figure that appears without fail in literature, films, music, and, of course, drama. She crosses cultural divides by embodying good and evil, generosity and selfishness, nurturing and stoicism all at once. And like a great musical number, she is often the propeller of the plot.

In honor of Mother's Day, we've rounded up 10 of Broadway's most iconic moms!

Rose from GYPSY

Ready or not, here comes Mama! Rose is the quintessential stage mother, battling the hardships of life in show business to make her daughters stars (and live her dreams through them in the process). Perhaps the most iconic, flawed Broadway mother on this list, Rose faces her demons in the show-stopping "Rose's Turn," when she admits that she did it all for herself, and in the end, "What did it get me?"

The Witch from INTO THE WOODS

While not technically Rapunzel's mother, The Witch sees her role in the girl's life as legitimate. She cares deeply (if misguidedly) for Rapunzel, and all of the atrocities she commits against her adopted daughter - locking her in a tower, blinding her prince, and banishing her - to her, were simply because she was "trying to be a good mother" and protect her from the world.


Diana struggling to treat her bipolar disorder, hurting from the son she lost, and still trying to be a good mother and wife, makes her one of musical theatre's most complex and imperfect moms.


Fantine is the ultimate tragic figure, willing to sacrifice everything, even her own life, for her daughter, Cosette. Her last lullaby as she is dying is heartbreaking: "There's a darkness which comes without a warning/But I will sing you lullabies and wake you in the morning."

Madame Armfeldt from A LITTLE NIGHT MUSIC

Disappointment is, unfortunately, part of being a parent. You raise your children with certain expectations and often they don't turn out the way you'd hoped. But Madame Armfeldt, who disapproves of her daughter Desiree's glamorous lifestyle, gets a chance to reflect on her own decisions and foster a new friendship with her granddaughter Fredrika.

Edna Turnblad from HAIRSPRAY

Edna is a one-of-a-kind, kind-hearted and hilarious mom to Tracy, even when she's complaining about the music on The Corny Colins Show and trying to keep Tracy sheltered from the unkind world. In the end, she realizes it's important to follow your dreams.

Edith 'Big Edie' Bouvier Beale from GREY GARDENS

Big Edie's real-life dramatic streak takes a more active role in Frankel, Korie and Wright's musical adaptation of the famous 1975 documentary about Big and Little Edie at their crumbling Hamptons estate. The bickering, quirky mother-daughter pair are the perfect fodder for Broadway.

Margaret White from CARRIE THE MUSICAL

In the musical adaptation of Stephen King's novel, Margaret exudes an intensity that would make her any daughter's worst nightmare. Although her actions are driven by her desire to protect Carrie, Margaret's religious fanaticism is at the root of Carrie's ultimate supernatural breakdown.

Margaret Johnson from THE LIGHT IN THE PIAZZA

Even when her own hopes for her daughter's future fall by the wayside, Margaret's devotion to Clara leads her to support Clara's newfound romance on their summer adventure in Italy.


Sharp-tongued and steadfast, Golde wants what's best for her five daughters in a fast-changing world, where love is "the new style," and the traditions she grew up with are at odds with her daughters' choices.

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From This Author - Jessica Khan

A Midwest native and Louisville-based journalist, Jessica is a long-time believer in the collaborative power of the performing arts. She has worked as a News Desk Editor for BroadwayWorld since 201... (read more about this author)