In your opinion, what are some of the more thankless roles in plays/musicals?

broadwayguy91
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definition of thankless:

not likely to be appreciated or rewarded; unappreciated

 

Some of my examples include:

Raoul from POTO

Nessarose from Wicked

Henry from Next to Normal

 

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Emma from Jekyll & Hyde.

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The angry dads; for example, Kevin in In the Heights or Reverand Moore in Footloose.  They're the least sympathetic characters and get the songs that are most likely to be skipped on cast recordings.

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broadwayguy91
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KathyNYC2 said: "Earl in Waitress.

 

"

can't believe I forgot about that. yes, definitely a thankless role 

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henrikegerman
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Schprintze

Bielke

"And Peggy"

The Thankless Sisters


 

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Cosette

 

"It does me no injury for my neighbour to say there are 20 gods or no god. It neither picks my pocket, nor breaks my leg." -- Thomas Jefferson
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Cosette was the first one that came to mind for me. 

All of the roles in Wicked besides the two witches (and Madame Morrible if you get an actress that has some fun with it) are pretty thankless.  No one has ever walked out of Wicked saying, "Wow that Boq really stole the show!"

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Ellen in Miss Saigon was the first one I thought of.  The character has her song constantly changed and is hated for not being Kim.

 

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After seeing this season's She Loves Me, I couldn't help feeling bad for any actor who plays Mr. Maraczek. He gets one lackluster song at the top of the show, spends the rest of act one being mad at our likable leading man, and then spends most of act two offstage in a hospital bed.

 

It might've just been Kristin's surprisingly dull performance, but Fran in Promises, Promises seems like a boring time for any actress. She spends most of the show sad and dower while the other characters are the complete opposite.

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Fran is a great role.  Cheno was a) wrong for it, and b) bad in it.

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George's wife in the second act of SUNDAY IN THE PARK WITH GEORGE. So thankless, in fact, that I had to look the name up: it's Elaine.

"You travel alone because other people are only there to remind you how much that hook hurts that we all bit down on. Wait for that one day we can bite free and get back out there in space where we belong, sail back over water, over skies, into space, the hook finally out of our mouths and we wander back out there in space spawning to other planets never to return hurrah to earth and we'll look back and can't even see these lives here anymore. Only the taste of blood to remind us we ever existed. The earth is small. We're gone. We're dead. We're safe." -John Guare, Landscape of the Body
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The third points of love triangles can be fun in some shows and thankless in others. Some thankless examples:

  • Bud (the cuckolded husband) in The Bridges of Madison County.
  • Pitkin (the cuckolded husband) in On the Town. 
  • Richard Blake played two sleazy boyfriends in a row as Glen in The Wedding Singer and Warner in Legally Blonde. 
  • Dorothy in Thoroughly Modern Millie

 

 
Ingenues in male centric stories tend to suffer as well. See

  • Anne in La Cage aux Folles
  • Catherine in Pippin
  • Whoever Sierra Bogess plays in School of Rock 
  • Jerry's cranky ex-wife in The Full Monty

 

 
Charlie is a pretty thankless leading role in Kinky Boots. He gets a lot of stage time but spends act one moping and act two berating the lovable Lola. 

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Updated On: 9/6/16 at 11:39 AM
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@MrsSallyAdams - I disagree that Mrs. Mullins is a thankless role in School of Rock. Sierra Boggess isn't playing her anymore, but I saw School of Rock last night and she was definitely much appreciated by the audience - she's the main love interest, people loved her singing (I heard a few kids trying to imitate her operatic singing going out the door, which was adorable), And people loved her solo and especially once she starts winding down. If anyone is a thankless role in School of Rock, it's the best friend's naggy wife, where the biggest cheer of the night is when she's told to shut up by said best friend.

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Link in Hairspray. The character is just upstaged by an ensemble of very colorful roles.

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I think Nicola in Kinky Boots is more thankless than Charlie. She's pretty much just the "annoying bitchy girlfriend".

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I think Lauren is more thankless than Nicola or Charlie. She's very forgettable. Even her name is boring and forgettable (I had to look it up to remember it). Face it, everyone but Lola is thankless.

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I think Nicola in Kinky Boots is more thankless than Charlie. She's pretty much just the "annoying bitchy girlfriend".

The character should never have made it to the stage version.

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I agree about Cosette. You wouldn't believe the number of times I've heard young girls saying that's their dream role. Makes me wanna slap them and say "what's wrong with you? There's nothing to do in that role. You must be a lousy actress if that's what you think your unattainable dream role is."

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Tag said: "I think Nicola in Kinky Boots is more thankless than Charlie. She's pretty much just the "annoying bitchy girlfriend".

The character should never have made it to the stage version.
"

Looks like I might be in minority here, but I actually find Nicola quite interesting. Might just be my love for Lena Hall who played Nicola in the OBC, but her portions in the opening song give me life. I also relate with her (completely materialistic) obsession for shoes more than Mr Price's reverent, almost saccharine, approach. I think a good actress makes Nicola quite essential to the story. I have seen 3 Nicolas, and only once did I think her character was forgettable, because the actress seemed to agree with board members here that she didn't matter to the show.

 

And Lauren is SO not thankless. "History Of Wrong Guys" is the comic highlight of the show. And you don't get a Tony nomination (Ashford) for playing a thankless part.

 

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Carl-Magnus in A Little Night Music is one that comes to mind.

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I was listening to SWEENEY TODD the other night and thinking "poor Pirelli, who even remembers him an hour and a half later when the curtain finally comes down?". Particularly with half of his one number cut.

But I don't agree about Bud in BRIDGES OF MADISON COUNTY. Maybe it was the actor in the national tour, but I thought he was surprisingly strong in what is essentially a two-character story. He sings three interesting and tuneful songs and gets two of the most poignant lines in the show:

"And to me she is like something from a dream,
And to her I'm like the guy who keeps the lights turned on."

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Two wives from me

Mrs Barrie from Finding Neverland and Mrs. Wormwood in Matilda.

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Cosette is the first one that came to mind to me too.

 

Also: Sandy in the stage version of Grease (much stronger role in the movie) and Hope in Anything Goes, 

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broadwayguy91 said: "definition of thankless:

not likely to be appreciated or rewarded; unappreciated

Some of my examples include:

Raoul from POTO

Nessarose from Wicked

Henry from Next to Normal


"

Funny, I've never thought of Henry from next to normal as a thankless role, maybe because I love the show and I've seen some great Henrys, but now that you've mentioned it I can really see why you'd say that. And regarding Catherine in Pippin, I couldn't disagree more: when I saw the 2013 revival I was blown away by Rachel's performance and left the show loving her and the role. I was very surprised that she didn't get a Tony nom, specially because I thought Andrea would win (as she did) but I left the show more in awe of Rachel's performance than of Andrea's. Andrea was great too, but I think she had the direction and the coreography on her side, while Rachel didn't.

Anyway, I think the doctors in next to normal are thankless roles too.

Updated On: 9/6/16 at 06:58 PM