Musicals Thread (Supporting Roles)

Welcome! The purpose of this thread is to talk about all things related to the wonderful world of musical theatre. Each week I will post a thread with a topic/question for everyone to respond to. This is also a great place to mention any new musicals you’ve discovered and/or general recommendations for other musical fans. Heard/seen any good shows lately? Have any theatre news to share? Tell us about it!

A great musical needs great support. The leading characters might get most of the attention, but I really love a good supporting performance. This week I want to give these supporting roles the attention, and so I’d like to hear about your favorite supporting characters/performances. I’ll be using this opportunity to highlight a musical that I have become completely obsessed with for the last two months thanks to our fellow commenter, Jason P. That’s right, I’m here to rave about The Light Princess! If you missed when Jason P wrote about this show, here is the plot summary from the original post:

The story mainly focuses on Althea, a princess from the desert kingdom of Lagobel. While still a child, Althea’s mother died and the entire kingdom was overcome with grief and sorrow, except for Althea. Althea rejected the grief and upon doing so, she lost her gravity and started floating. This upsets Althea’s father, the king, and he banishes Althea to a tower with the orphan Piper. Althea spends her time lost in stories. Then her brother is assassinated by a rival kingdom and the King comes to Althea telling her that she will be queen and she needs to lead the army. Althea rejects this, she has no desire to be royalty (and she would probably do away with the whole monarchy thing if she could) and runs away with Piper. They discover a hidden lake and end up meeting Digby, the prince of the rival kingdom. Althea and Digby fall in love. There’s more conflict with Althea’s father. Possible war between the two kingdoms.

After being introduced to this musical I listened to it many, many times. And I bought the book so I could read all of the lyrics and stage directions because I’m an obsessive type of person who needed to know exactly what was happening in every scene. I wanted to know all of the plot points because I spend a lot of time reading/writing/teaching about revisionist myths/fairy tales, which is exactly what this musical is. Tori Amos and Samuel Adamson manipulated the original fairy tale to create something new, beautiful, heart wrenching, and empowering. I really love this musical and honestly cannot thank Jason P enough for introducing it to me. But anyway, you came here to read about a supporting character…and the one I’d like to highlight today is the orphan Piper! Amy Booth-Steele’s performance on the cast recording is incredible, and I’m sure that her performance on the stage was just as stirring. Piper is responsible for, along with Digby’s brother, narrating the story, but more importantly she is a constant source of encouragement and love for Althea—supporting her in every conceivable way. Piper believes that Althea is Queen material when no one else does, including Althea herself. When Althea has lost hope and become resigned to her fate Piper snaps her out of her, and when Althea’s life is in danger she doesn’t hesitate to speak out against the King to reveal the horrible things he has done to his daughter. She’s an incredible character and Amy Booth-Steele’s voice brings her to life. I’m really starting to ramble here, so I’ll bring this to a close by sharing one of my favorite Piper moments from the show. Here she confronts King Darius declares that he has no right to rule after what he has done to Althea. This song also showcases one of the other incredible supporting performances from the show (Clive Rowe as King Darius), so that’s a nice bonus:

I get chills every time this song starts with Piper’s declaration, “Because she’s a girl, because she is light, you think you can deny her what’s right.” And then it just gets better from there. Alright, that’s enough from me this week, what are some of your favorite supporting characters/performances?

Oh, and I’m sorry for not posting last week! I was super busy and completely forgot to post something.