The Top 10 Mother Roles in Musical Theatre

In the lead up to Mother’s Day here’s a list of  The Top 10 Mother Roles and what we can learn from each role.


1. Diana Goodman in Next To NormalNextToNormal

A huge role for any female performer, Diana takes us through the highs and lows of mental illness. The loss of her son and her subsequent mental breakdown threatens to tear apart the family. Compounding this is Diana’s fragile relationship with daughter, Natalie, who feels somewhat invisible to her mother. Diana takes us on an emotional roller coaster ride through the highs and lows of her mental illness, delivering some incredibly powerful and thought-provoking lyrics along the way.

Diana teaches us the depth of a mother’s love.


2. Girl in Oncegirlonce

Requiring a quadruple threat performer, the role of Girl is more than just a piano-playing romantic lead. At the very core of her decision-making is the fact Girl is a mother who chooses to remain true to her husband and father of her child. Despite the audience anticipation of a blossoming romance between Girl and Guy, in the words of Once composer Glen Hansard, Girl “remains true to herself” and is the “heroine of the story”. Girl chooses responsibility and commitment over a possible new romance.

Girl teaches us that being a mother brings responsibility.






3. Mrs Johnstone in Blood Brothers

Living in poverty and barely able to cope with the children she already has, the superstitious Mrs Johnstone decides to give away one of her twins to a wealthy but infertile woman desperate for a child of her own. Mrs Johnstone’s motives and intentions are honourable, but it still results in a tragic outcome. Mrs Johnstone delivers the final emotional ballad to close out the show. which leaves the audiences wiping the tears from their eyes.

Mrs Johnstone teaches us that a mother can still have a special love for a child she hasn’t raised.



4. Kim, Miss Saigon

Laurie-Cadevida-as-Kim-holds-Tam-in-Miss-SaigonKim becomes pregnant to the US Marine she falls in love with and “marries” before he is forced to evacuate Saigon during the turbulence of the Vietnam War. Back in America, Chris is unable to find news of Kim and moves on with his life with a new wife. Kim wants the best for their young son and asks Chris to take Tam back to the US. When she discovers Chris has a new wife and they refuse to take Tam from her, In a powerful climax to the musical, Kim makes the ultimate sacrifice and gives up her life to ensure her son is cared for by his father.

Kim teaches us that mothers will go to extreme lengths to protect the future of their child.


5. Fantine, Les Misérables fantinelesmiserables

Another story of a mother who will do anything to save her child. Fantine shares how her dreams for life were crushed when she was abandoned by the father of her child and forced to raise Cosette alone. Ultimately she loses her life, but on her death bed, her final thoughts are about the well being of daughter. Although technically a supporting role, Fantine’s demise is pivotal to the story line.

Like Kim, Fantine teaches us a mother will do whatever it takes for the well being of their child.


6. Donna Sheridan, Mamma Mia mammamiaannewood

When Donna finds herself pregnant to one of three different men, she chooses to raise young Sophie alone.  Donna shares the challenge of learning to let go of a child who is growing up and becoming independent. ‘Slipping Through My Fingers’ is a potentially heart breaking song for any mother of a teenager or young adult. Unlike many other mother roles, Donna is a fun and bright character who moves from the denim overalls of ‘Mamma Mia’ to the lyric clad ‘Super Trouper’ and finally finds love.

Donna teaches us that single mums can successfully raise a child.


7. Jenny Elliot, Billy Elliot billyelliotmum

Billy’s mother is only a small role, but has one of the most emotional scenes of the show. The “Dear Billy” song will tear at the hear strings of any mother.

Jenny teaches us that a mother’s love knows no boundaries.




8. Shirley Hastings, Strictly Ballroom shirleyhastingsstrictlyballroom

Shirley Hastings has spent her life teaching dancing to her students, but none more important than her son, Scott. Scott has been raised to be a dance champion and Shirley has invested everything to ensure Scott achieves this … until Scott decides he wants to try his own ideas.

Shirley teaches us that a mother will do whatever it takes to help her child succeed in life, but ultimately a mother has to support her children to make their own choices in life.





9. Winifred Banks, Mary Poppins Mary Poppins by Disney and Cameron Mackintosh

Mrs Banks is probably not going to win any Mother Of The Year Awards for her parenting skills, but she does have some important lessons to teach her children about the role of women in society and equal rights.

While not quite a “working” mother, Winifred shows us the challenge of trying to raise a family and tend to commitments outside the home.



10. Edna Turnbladednaturnblad, Hairspray

This mother role is one for the men; the role is traditionally played by a male performer. Edna is a hard working mother who loves her family and places their needs above her own. As daughter Tracy encourages Edna to step out of the house and experience life we see Edna undergo a transformation from a reclusive housewife to a glamorous and confident woman.

Edna teaches us that mothers will work hard for the sake of their family.