5 Inspirational Female Musical Theatre Characters , In Honour of Kamala Harris
On Saturday night, Kamala Harris accepted her place in history. She became the first woman, and the first woman of colour to be elected Vice President.
Speaking from Delaware, the 56-year-old honoured the women before her who “paved the way for this moment.” As the daughter of Jamaican and Indian immigrants, she confirmed “We, the people, have the power to build a better future.”
Harris is poised to become the highest-ranking woman in the history of American government. This follows an extraordinary political career that has seen her break gender and racial barriers at different intervals; as the first Black woman attorney general of California, and the second Black woman in history to serve in the chamber.
She concluded her speech saying, “While I may be the first woman in this office, I will not be the last. Because every little girl watching tonight sees that this is a country of possibilities.”
In honour of Harris, today we tribute five of our favourite and strongest female characters in musical theatre.
1. Elphaba Thropp - Wicked
Elphaba has become an icon amongst musical theatre fans as they look to inspirational fictional characters. But, the hype is real. Throughout Wicked we watch Elphaba, who exists in a world of fantastical creatures and magic, be ostracised for her differences from the way she looks to the way that she acts.
Rejected by her family and presented as a loner, Elphaba is fiercely dedicated to her beliefs of justice and righteousness and is committed to her battle to use her powers for change. It is with quick wit, courage and sacrifice, that Elphaba recognises that she is worthy of giving and receiving love and with that she can defy gravity.
Teamed with her roommate, the fantastically intelligent and charismatic, Glinda, the two are praised for their representation of womanhood and friendship. Together they grow whilst staying true to themselves.
“Because I knew you, I have been changed for good.”
2. Elizabeth Schuyler – Hamilton
Let’s be real. We all know that ending of Hamilton is suggesting the name of the show isn’t a direct reference to Alexander but instead to his wife, Elizabeth.
Despite years of deceit, the socialite remained faithful to her husband and raising a family. What we do not see on stage is her dedication to helping Alexander draft political essays, correspond with heads of states and help to write the speeches in which he changed history.
It is once her husband died in the infamous duel with Burr that Elizabeth was able to be recognised for her continued devotion to America and lay her own legacy. Despite raising her family on tight purse-strings, for the 50 years that she outlived Alexander, she helped open New York City’s first private orphanage where she helped at least 765 children.
3. Princess Tiana – The Princess and the Frog
Princess Tiana is a woman who is independent, intelligent and imaginative. After recognising her dreams to own a restaurant she worked tirelessly to achieve it.
A great believer of honour, she credits her father’s legacy, their heritage and remains loyal to the culture of New Orleans. In her turbulent adventure, the heroine takes great leaps (pardon the frog pun) to defend and protect those around her and remains focussed and driven.
Princess Tiana is Disney’s first African American princess, and the character is based on American chef and civil rights activist, Leah Chase.
4. Tracy Turnblad – Hairspray
The 1960s could have really done with more people that shared Tracy Turnblad’s values. Our outspoken and loveable teen dreams only of dancing on the Corny Collins show. Outcasted for her weight, she meets Seaweed J. Stubbs and learns of the challenges faced by her African American peers.
Despite eventually achieving her own personal goals, she dedicates herself to bettering the platform for all. Determined to racially-integrate the show, with great optimism towards progression Tracy rallies against the inequality and leads a march alongside Seaweed, his family and community. This, whilst promoting body positivity to her recluse mother who shies away from the expectations of the 1960s.
Tracey’s fight for inclusivity and diversity is at the heart of this oversized, over-glitzed musical that features an upbeat blend of musical styles and delicious dancing.
5. Beverley Bass - Come From Away
The character of Beverley Bass is based entirely on the American aviation hero who was ordered to divert a trans-Atlantic flight during the events of 9/11. She landed her plane in Gander, Newfoundland; the town that is paid homage to in Come From Away.
She became American Airlines' first female captain aged 34. Just weeks later, she helped break ground yet again as the captain of the first all-female flight crew. Beverley is often praised for paving the way for female pilots, and for the way that she handled the terrors of 9/11 keeping her passengers, crew, and craft safe and calm during their landed period of uncertainty.