Recently, during intermission of CYT’s wonderful production of “Cinderella,” my family and I were talking about title roles. Kaylin Mercer was stunning and delightful in the title role of that show, assisted in no small part by an extremely charming prince, Davis Harrison (I always find it particularly heartening when a dynamic young male performer gets a chance to shine.) Beyond Kaylin’s great performance, the conversation was spurred by our realization that Cooper has been fortunate to have the opportunity to play the title character in three shows – “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” (alternately known as “Willy Wonka, Jr.” so there is potentially a dispute there), “Oliver,” and the just opening “The Who’s Tommy.”
This got us wondering just how many shows we could think of where there even IS a title role. We decided that some shows – “Beauty and the Beast,” “The Lion King” and “Phantom of the Opera,” for instance – didn’t really count because, for instance, in “B ‘n B” the character’s name is Belle, not Beauty. So how many shows are there with a character’s name in the title? We came up with “Billy Elliot,” “Annie,” “Peter Pan,” “Really Rosie,” “Sunday in the Park with George,” “Mrs. Bob Cratchit’s Wild Christmas Binge,” “Jack and the Beanstock,” “Shrek,” and “Mary Poppins.” As you can see, the bulk of these tend toward the child-oriented. I’m sure there are dozens of grown-up shows that I’m not thinking of but, overall, I was surprised that we couldn’t come up with more.
One new addition to this particular canon would be the current Broadway production, “Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson,” which sounds like a winner to me. If I was going to NYC anytime soon (sigh…), it’s the show I would want to see, with “The Glass Menagerie” being a possibility, too. I would NOT care to see “The Addams Family.” I love Bebe but really? Honestly, I had the same reaction to “Shrek.” I just didn’t see the value-add of putting that story on stage.
Of course, folks might argue that putting “The Who’s Tommy” on stage wasn’t a value-add either. Check it out at Theatre VCU and let me know what you think.