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15 Of the Most Iconic Musical Theatre Mom Roles

15 Of the Most Iconic Musical Theatre Mom Roles

Mother’s Day is just around the corner and in anticipation of that, I thought I’d spend a little time exploring more of my current type and research musical theatre mom roles that I could someday play. The last time I was onstage, I was morphing out of the ingenue type and then I had two kids and got over it for awhile. Kid2 is about 21 months old now and with her newfound independence, I find myself with just a little bit more time to devote to my old friend, musical theatre.

This list of musical theatre mom roles on Broadway is far from exhaustive, highlighting just 15 of almost 100 “motherly” characters (that I have found so far) spanning the last 30 years.

The motivations and themes for the following characters range from (upon my own analysis) mental illness, postpartum depression, self-sacrifice, anxiety, and always, at the heart of every mother, deep and endless love.

Hopefully this list helps you if you are transitioning types or just need some material to connect with after having kids. Cuz well…if you know, you know.

(Just so you are aware, there are some spoilers in some of these descriptions)


The Baker’s Wife from INTO THE WOODS

One of the most complex characters in all of musical theatre, The Baker’s Wife is a “bucket list” role for many actresses, myself included. She is desperate for a child, and later, desperate for some excitement in her life – a sentiment that many mothers (myself included) can absolutely relate to.


Bloody Mary from SOUTH PACIFIC

South Pacific is probably my favorite musical from the Golden Age of Broadway. It was my first professional show (and my FIRST actual show!) and it holds a dear place in my heart. I’ve come to realize that Bloody Mary is a darker character than I had originally thought. Hustling the Seabees on the beaches, she sells everything from grass skirts to “schlunken heads” to her own daughter, though not without good cause. 


Diana from NEXT TO NORMAL

Having experienced the immeasurable loss of a child, Diana’s journey through her subsequent mental illness is one that I am terrified to take. Reacquainting myself with her story made my heart nearly stop, especially when realizing that the child that died had an illness the doctors didn’t catch.


Donna from MAMMA MIA!

Business owner and former professional singer (sounds familiar…), Donna has admirably chosen to raise her daughter Sophie alone. As Sophie’s wedding approaches, Donna faces the heartbreaking challenge of letting go. 


Edna Turnblad from HAIRSPRAY

Traditionally played by a male actor, Edna’s lack of social interaction has contributed to her anxiety. She hardly ever leaves the house and constantly projects her worries onto her daughter. #totallyrelatableduringapandemic


Fantine from LES MISERABLES

Who among us didn’t want to be Eponine in Les Mis growing up? Well, that ship has sailed faaaaaaar too long ago for me, but I’m hanging on to one day playing Fantine. As I write this, we are in the throes of a pandemic and thinking of a mother who sends her child to live elsewhere for her well being while she dies alone from A RESPIRATORY DISEASE is giving me too much anxiety right now. Might be too soon, for me.


Heidi Hansen from DEAR EVAN HANSEN

Anyone who has ever had a parent choose work over “being there” for their child can relate to Evan’s feelings towards Heidi. She tries so hard to connect with her son, but falls short. Latchkey kids from the 80’s and 90’s feel this so hard, but as a parent I feel more forgiving towards my own upbringing. It still sucks, but I get it.


Kim from MISS SAIGON

Oh, my dear heart, my dream role. One I got to play just twice. If there is any role that will test an actor’s stamina, it is this one. With the emotional wreckage this role leaves you with, I am terrified to think of how it would have been like to play this role after becoming a mother. My friend Lora played this role not long after her son was born and she said she had nightmares that mirrored the show!


Lily from THE SECRET GARDEN

I loved this book growing up, and the musical is just SO lovely. Lily’s beloved garden is locked after she dies in an accident while she was pregnant, though her child survived but is disabled and rejected by his father because he looks just like her, obviously (why, uggghh!!!). Lily watches over her son and husband from the great beyond and sings two of the most gorgeous melodies I have ever heard.


Mama Rose from GYPSY

The ultimate stage mom. Super ultimate. She allegedly killed several people, and attempted to murder her future son-in-law for getting in the way of her plans for her daughter June. Why isn’t there a true crime documentary on her? I WOULD WATCH THAT.


Margaret White from CARRIE

Terrifyingly religious, controlling, and mentally unstable, truly a horrific woman, co-dependent and horribly abusive to her daughter Carrie who was conceived from marital rape. Disgusting and pitiful and so much awfulness rolled up into one person. What a gratifying feat it would be to find any likability in this character.


Mrs. Johnstone from BLOOD BROTHERS

The idea of separating twins is absolutely gutting. It hurts so hard to dwell on the circumstances that would drive a mother to do it, but I understand. To guarantee a life of privilege for at least one of your children coupled with a financial windfall to support the rest of your family… what a wretched, yet necessary choice to have to make.


The Witch from INTO THE WOODS

One of the golden roles on my list, The Witch is more than just an evil woman who curses people and kidnaps children. Much like the rest of us, her front is self-serving and vain but we learn that she too, has difficulty watching her child grow up and become a person of her own.


Winifred Banks from MARY POPPINS

A former actress (talk about relatable, hello), Winifred battles the insecurities that she isn’t “enough” of a wife or mother due to her husband’s comparison of her to his nanny, Miss Andrew, whom he believes raised him perfectly. Well, perfect doesn’t exist, George!! No wonder your wife is depressed all the time, you dick.


Sarah from RAGTIME

There is so much to explore with Sarah. It is an opportunity for any actress to explore the deepest darkness that would lead a mother to bury their child in a garden. Despite what Tom Cruise says, post partum psychosis is a very real, and very serious mental illness that can lead to the worst possible outcomes. This is a role I will never have a chance to play, and all the more power to the women who have it in their bucket list.


IMPORTANT: If you think you may be suffering from any form of postpartum depression, postpartum psychosis, or if you need support, please call the Postpartum International hotline at 1-800-944-4773.


This list will grow over time! In the meanwhile, let me know in the comments if there are any musical theatre mother roles you’d like to see included!

Who is your musical theater mother dream role and why? I’d love to know!


This list highlights 15 of the most iconic musical theatre mom roles on Broadway. Hopefully it helps you find material to connect with after having kids.
Stop Hate Watching

Stop Hate Watching

Photo by Florian Weichelt on Unsplash

Stop hate watching.

We’ve all done it. We all do it. And the worst part is…we air that shit out on social media. There are articles in defense of it, but this blog post isn’t one of them.

Musicals are going live, or “live,” whatever you want to call it. But all of a sudden, the nasty musical theatre vultures come out and start criticizing a performance before it begins.

Don’t act like you’ve never truly royally fucked up a performance. You probably have, which makes you think that you have carte blanche to rip into someone else, because hey, we’ve all gone through it. Or, hey, they’re famous, they should know what they’re doing. They’re famous, they should expect criticism.

Yeah yeah yeah, it’s an opinion. It’s your opinion. How many actors does it take to screw in a lightbulb, bla bla bla, shut up. Just. Shut. Up.

You know what I do when I find myself hate watching? I remember the time I threw up onstage during a dance number. I remember the time I jumped my cue to recorded music leaving me with MORE music to fake my way through. I remember the time I literally exited the wrong way and a crew member had to come get me because I got stuck in the stairwell to the balcony. I remember the time I literally forgot the words and made up my own lyrics while the musical director just stood their with his finger to his lip trying to figure out what the hell I was doing.

Hate watching is shitty behavior. It’s gross, it makes me feel gross, and makes me wonder if my peers ever talked about my performances that way. I try not to go down that rabbit hole because I’ll just find the anxiety that pulled me offstage years ago.

It tears down. It doesn’t lift up. And for an industry full of people claiming to support each other, I find that “support” very difficult to believe sometimes.

To be clear, it’s not just watching it and not liking a performance. It’s literally enjoying talking shit about it. It’s hosting a party and on the e-vite include the line “let’s see how badly they screw this up!” I received one of those, once. **declined**

Even the incomparable Leslie Uggams screws up on live TV.

But they get paid to be perfect! Yeah, too bad, no one is. No matter how much you pay them.

Call me a wet blanket but I’d rather be a wet blanket than an asshole.

Halle Bailey is the Ariel I Never Knew I Needed

Halle Bailey is the Ariel I Never Knew I Needed

Photo by Nsey Benajah on Unsplash

Tonight I sang “Part of Your World” to my infant daughter and for the first time, I didn’t feel like I was singing a song I wasn’t supposed to. And I told her that if they remake the movie in 25 years, maybe she will get to be Ariel. And the best part of all that was it felt truly deep in my heart 100% POSSIBLE.

College was weird. I had a couple acting professors who I really connected with, one in community college and one after I transferred to university. Nobody else, really. I felt cornered in college because of my race. I was never given a song to sing with a boy, always 3 girls and one of them was the other non-white student in the class. And we sang a song about being whores. Material I didn’t want to sing was forced on me because I was Asian.

I was always asked to perform Asian monologues. WHY THO? I’m an American. I was born and raised here. Why couldn’t I perform any of the countless monologues about anything else but what I looked like or where my parents came from?

Halle Bailey cast as Ariel hit me in the heart. I loved The Little Mermaid growing up. Ariel was my favorite Disney princess until Pocahontas came along (because I kind of looked like her). And of course in the back of my mind, I always thought I could never be the pretty lead. Maybe I could be the friend.

Right now, it doesn’t feel like “Maybe you can go to the Philippines and become an actor.” No. She…WE can stay right here.

Exploring Another Love…

Exploring Another Love…

Photo by Fallon Michael on Unsplash

I am an official art school drop out. And I can’t go back and get my degree because the school I went to went out of business, but not before I managed to complete one out of two required years. Oh but that year was grueling. So many sleepless nights and that was the year I gave up coffee. Really. THAT was the year. I think I still have the mark from when my forehead slammed on my keyboard when I fell asleep in class. My schedule was crazy back then. Full time school, part time work, rehearsing for a show, AND in a relationship. It’s no wonder that halfway through that year I got SO SICK that my voice disappeared. I remember laying on the couch feeling so miserable and tired that I thought to myself…if I died right now at least I’d get some sleep.

Anyway, I have always loved digital art. My dad had an old Amiga computer and I made my very first campaign posters in 5th grade on it when I ran for Chief of Safeties (I lost). I can’t even remember the name of the program, but it was so fun making those signs. That dream collapsed after that first year in college, but like drawing, I’m slowly finding my way back to all the things I used to love. And I finally decided to put that half year of art school to good use and try to get some of that investment back by creating some printable quotes on Etsy! I only have 6 pieces up, but I’ll continue to add more. Gotta put the random thoughts and colors swirling around in my head somewhere, right?

Keys To The Animal Room

My next project is a staged reading of Peta Murray’s Keys to the Animal Room at The Beacon Theatre. Directed by Christine Vittorini, it takes a hard look at domestic violence and how the signs of abuse so often go ignored. I play the role of the battered wife, Julie. After our first read thru last night, we talked about how interesting it was that there are so few scripted works by American writers that tackle this delicate subject. As an actor, it is my job to delve wholly into the character and the circumstances surrounding her. It was so hard to let myself go there because the subject matter is so dark, so scary…having no personal experience in physical abuse, I feel like I have a responsibility to those who have suffered and are still suffering.

Performances are scheduled for one weekend only. For more information, go HERE.

Behind the Scenes of The Pawffice!


Pet360 Free Shipping The web series I worked on earlier this summer with Pet360 went LIVE today! Check out ALL the episodes of “The Pawffice” HERE! Here is one of our blooper reels! The other actors Joie and Brett were great to work with, but the most professional actor of all was little Noodle. He walked into the office and sat down in front of our director Tim as if to say “I’m ready for my closeup!” Louis (the dog eating the lunch) was a hoot! He patrols the office of Pet360, making sure everyone is where they should be. I asked him to fetch me a coffee on his next round, but he said he couldn’t run personal errands while he was on duty. Busy busy!

Watch all episodes of The Pawffice now!

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